Review: Spank Rock, Death Set, Devlin & Darko -- the 2010 Baltimore Bass Connection Xmas Party
From Midnight Sun alum Sam Sessa:
There's a reason they call it the Baltimore Bass Connection.
Wednesday night at U Street Music Hall, the low end was loud enough to flatten the hairs on the back of your neck. (My ears are still ringing.) Indie rappers Spank Rock, deviant punks the Death Set and Baltimore Club DJs Devlin and Darko had the underground club banging for several hours straight.
The Baltimore Bass Connection's Xmas Celebration, which comes to Sonar tonight, has become a yuletide tradition in these parts. Spank Rock's Naeem Juwan (pictured), a Baltimore native and the event's enigmatic ringleader, has turned the Sonar show into one of the year's most anticipated throwdowns. Hundreds of 20-somethings squeezed into the U Street Music Hall for the DC show -- a sneak preview of what's in store for tonight -- organized by
Brightest Young Things the BBC.
While the Death Set and Spank Rock both brought the house down, some questionable lineup choices sapped the night's momentum.
There was absolutely no reason why Death Set should have gone on around 11 p.m. -- before Ninjasonik and Spank Rock. Death Set's vicious, screwy songs are like two-minute lightening storms, and in response, the audience even started moshing (as much as hipsters can mosh, that is).
Death Set, a trio from Australia that's now Brooklyn-based, played over backing tracks of themselves, which seemed oddly un-punk. No matter; their set whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Then we had to wait another two and a half hours for Spank Rock.
Granted, Ninjasonik put on a solid set ("Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant" was as hilarious and bumping as ever), and DJs Devlin and Darko didn't disappoint, but the show lost some steam in the hours before Spank Rock's set. On a side note, Juwan, who was supposed to be hosting the gig with Emily Rabbit, was absent most of the night.
Spank Rock took the stage after 1:30 a.m. and delivered a red-hot set of cuts from their head-turning debut as well as a few newer tracks. Juwan, the MC, knows how to work a crowd, and DJs Devlin and Darko kept the beats coming. So far, none of Spank Rock's newer material can top the first album.
"Rick Rubin" was a stomper, and "Backyard Betty" was raunchy in all the right ways, though at times, Juwan's vocals were drowned out by the suffocating bass. Juwan even brought out Midnight Sun favorite Rye Rye for a tune, and pulled up enough girls from the crowd to get lost on stage. Any ill feelings about the lineup were instantly forgotten.
All apologies, Santa, but that's a Christmas celebration I can get behind.
(Cell phone photo by Sam Sessa)