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  Liquified Universe 4.1.00
by Sterling McGarvey
Photos by Mike Thompson

Venue: North Atlanta Trade Center - Atlanta, GA
Presented by: Liquid Groove

Fuzzy BunnySaturday, April 1. Usually, April Fool's Day is a day of trickery and pranks. However, if Liquified Universe were some sort of sick joke, it was one of the worst examples of tomfoolery I've ever witnessed. If it was a serious venture, like I expected it to be, then it was certainly one of the boldest ventures that the Atlanta scene has taken. With a lineup boasting of some of the UK's greatest Trance and Drum n' Bass DJs, Liquified Universe reunited Atlanta with world-class DJs, many of whom hadn't played in Atlanta in years. The party COMPLETELY sold out the day before the event. The North Atlanta Trade Center was 9,000 people strong.

Headlined by a 6-hour tag team set by Sasha and John Digweed, LU was possibly the biggest party I've ever attended. Sasha and Digweed had not played together in Atlanta since 1996. Rabbit in the Moon had not performed in Atlanta since 1997. Garth hadn't played in Atlanta since LG's Psi-Fidelic Frequencies at Loretta's in May 1998. Grooverider and Fabio hadn't spun since September 1998, at Pleazure's Riddle of the Sphinx party. Needless to say, this was a party that had a lot of hype to live up to. Did it deliver? That's largely a matter of opinion. In my opinion, the party was a bold venture that was largely successful. Not perfect, but certainly not a flat-out failure, either.

Glitter BunnyI arrived at 11:45 PM, so unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see some of Atlanta's great locals DJs in a XXXL venue. When I arrived, Monk had at least a thousand (yes, a thousand) kids jamming to his hard house set. I hadn't seen Monk play in nearly two years, not since Liquified Planet of June 1998. Last time I saw him spin; he played a break-y/hard house remix of an old school 2 Live Crew track. This time, he played yet another hard house remix of an old school 2 Live song. While misogynistic and demeaning, it was a lot of fun hearing a song I haven't heard since I was 11 years old. As a finale, Monk completely switched styles and threw on Biz Markie's "Just a Friend." The crowd in the main room lit up like a Christmas tree as they sang along to the slow beat. Then, he slowly brought in the instrumental from KRS-One's "A Friend." As the fat piano loop played and played, he cut in a helicopter build, which only meant one thing: It was time for all the jungle heads to unite and get down!

John DigweedIn the second arena, ATL's hardest working man on turntables, J-Luv had a massive group of kids eating out of the palm of his hand as I joined the masses of onlookers around the turntables as he worked his mojo on all the party kids out there. Everyone was bouncing off the walls in the second room by the time Garth stepped up to the plate. Representing San Francisco's legendary Wicked Crew, Garth broke out his crate of funky, groovy tracks and got everyone's asses in motion. After a few minutes in the second room, I headed out into the main room, where Rabbit in the Moon were starting up their live PA. Having never seen RITM before, I was incredibly impressed. Bunny must've changed costumes more than Madonna has changed her public image. He morphed from Flame-Throwing Mecha-Bunny™ to Samurai Bunny™ (I found the idea of the supposed Japanese guy slaying the Chinese dragon to be rather skewed myself) to Mirror Suit Bunny™. Also, RITM gave away more freebies than any other DJ or PA than I've ever seen. After hoisting many a 130-lb. girl on my shoulders, I decided that the sweltering heat (I should have brought raw meat into the crowd; it would have been well done in 15 minutes) was enough and I already had handfuls of free stuff that I caught (it pays to be tall), so I headed back to Garth's set. The crowd was noticeably less than when I left for RITM, perhaps because many of them were packed solidly like human cargo out in the main room, rendering them unable to check out the set. However, Garth was still slamming down the funky beats, and many a person was grooving to his track selections. After returning to the main room and meeting some people, I lost my attention to RITM as I met numerous Lunar people that I had to reintroduce myself to later.

JewelsAnd then, just as quickly as my attention faded from RITM, I heard the unmistakable sounds of progressive house emanating from the main area. Sasha and John Digweed were on. Since I'm not a major trance-head, I worked my way to the second room, where hard beats met uplifting, vibey jazz under the workings of Grooverider and Fabio. The ATL massive was working up a major sweat to these tracks. The crowds of onlookers were also incredibly noticeable. Few people could get a really good look at the two drum n' bass legends at work unless they were incredibly up close. After I was too tired to handle any more D n' B, I headed back to the main room. The crowd was noticeably thinner than it was during RITM. I did the majority of my partying in the main room for a big chunk of the remainder of the party. When I returned to the drum n' bass arena, Fabio was tearing it up. Grooverider seemed a bit unhappy. I kept waiting for Sasha and Digweed to take me somewhere I'd never been. Unfortunately, I just stayed where I was: cramped near the stage. Digweed did a great deal of the spinning, in my opinion. Finally, by the near end of the set, I was too tired to appreciate their grandiose beat drop. I headed toward the Jim Masters side of the party. The second room only had a handful of people at this point, but you'd better believe that Jim had 'em all rockin'!! Hey, he's not part of Ultimate B.A.S.E. for nothing!!! Jim did a fantastic job for the short amount of time that he spun. By the time I returned back to the main room, the applause for Sasha and Digweed had begun. Liquified Universe was over.

All in all, while I was disappointed in Sasha and Digweed, the vibe of the party was fantastic! It wasn't the best party I've been to; it wasn't the worst, but it was damn sure the BIGGEST!!!! Mad props go out to Devin and Damian for pulling off such a high profile and grand scale party with style! It's great to see that Atlanta can handle a large-scale party without the hitches that many other cities can get. Now, let's see how well the next Liquified Universe goes; I, for one, am very much looking forward to it!

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