Music Sounds Better with You

A wrap-up of the RFT's DJ spin-off

spin-off winner

The dance parties A to Z attended in college tended to be of the lame dorm-room variety, ones fueled by vodka in plastic bottles, generic OJ and whatever MP3 playlist said dorm inhabitants could assemble. (As we attended college during the teenpop "golden age" and had many theater friends, Backstreet Boys, Britney and tinny Europop were staples — natch, tolerated due to the aforementioned vodka.)

Of course, on occasion we also pried open our wallet and forked over the cash so we could shake our booty in clubs, whether it was sweating to Paul van Dyk's heavenly techno, rocking the fishnets and eyeliner at goth/new-wave night or even (gasp!) dancing to rock bands who possessed a swing in their backbeat (Dismemberment Plan and !!!, I'm looking at you.)

The point of this shameless navel-gazing is to make the point that, hey, sometimes you just need to let loose and surrender to the beat. Area DJs certainly rose to this occasion when the RFT announced its DJ spin-off contest, with the grand prize of a trip to Miami to spin at the Ultra Music Fest during the annual Winter Music Conference. Our apartment and office felt bare without strobe lights, fog machines and a bar, as we dove into the pile of mixes we received: ones filled with serene trance; reggae-fied hip-hop; old-school jams and breakbeats; tasty nuggets from Bpitch Control Records; uptempo house; in-your-face drum 'n' bass and more.

It was difficult narrowing down the field to just four finalists, but the contestants — Sinamin, DJ Karizma, Adrian Fox and Flex Boogie — proved themselves worthy at the final spin-off (save for Boogie, who was unfortunately out of town and couldn't compete). Taking place at the Clubhouse (3502 Papin Street; 314-664-8414) last Thursday, an appreciative crowd cheered on the three DJs manning the wheels of steel like the pros they are.

Last year's winner, Kid Delicious, provided the pre-set and between-DJ entertainment (as well as much-welcomed technical support) with her finely tuned progressive house, a set that lead seamlessly into Karizma's time on the decks. Sporting a snazzy red dress and matching heels, the petite 21-year-old's set was pure class all the way.

Full of sinewy grooves ideal for a jubilant rave and fluid electro-jams, her mix's ebbs and flows were expertly crafted and built to an ideal peak about a half-hour in, a testament to Karizma's skills. (A snippet of the Twin Peaks theme and a remix of Gary Jules' "Mad World" from the Donnie Darko soundtrack were dubbed by one judge as "crazy delicious.")

Adrian Fox — who, like Karizma, was clearly enjoying his time in the spotlight and was getting into his grooves — came next and spun a versatile set filled with upbeat techno, jungly house, deep soul and diva-screams that felt dance-y enough for a debauched night out but mellow enough to be background at a classy restaurant. (Even RFT style maven D-Sly was spotted shaking his hips.)

Sinamin ended the night with an appropriately party-hearty set that pleased club-goers without sacrificing creativity or, well, fun. Fierce drum 'n' bass attacks sprinkled throughout bled into primo hip-hop jams, including a DMX reset ("Up In Here"), Naughty by Nature's timeless "O.P.P." and two (!) Busta Rhymes twisted-funk singles.

The winner of the night was Adrian Fox. Congratulations, Adrian!

Speaking of dancing, A to Z recommends you hit the Upstairs Lounge (3131 South Grand Boulevard; 314-249-6228) to see Minneapolis' Revolver Modele on Monday, March 13 — at least if you're into music that sounds like early Oingo Boingo grooving at dark-wave night with Iggy Pop and the Chameleons. In fact, there's so much going on this week we could barely fit half of it into the section (thanks, SXSW!). Not-to-miss shows include Garrison Starr at Off Broadway (Monday, March 13), the Ponys at the Hi-Pointe (also March 13) and Lucinda Williams at the Pageant (Wednesday, March 15).

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