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Bust a Groove

Spankrock, Current Gallery, April 9

Christopher Myers

By Bret McCabe | Posted 4/13/2005

Spark-plug MC and recent Ninja Tune/Big Dada signee Spankrock was all set to get the party started Saturday night. His three-DJ team—xxxChange (the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based beat-crafter Alex Epton), C. Rockswell (Baltimore DJ Chris Devlin), and some other dude—laid out a constantly shifting sprinter’s pace bounce of house becoming funk becoming hip-hop becoming Baltimore club becoming electro, and rubber-band-man dancing-machine MC Spankrock (Philadelphia’s Naeem Juwan) possessed the sort of quick-draw but clearly enunciating delivery to keep up with the Tommy-gun blasts. And just as the crew started to turn up the heat, just as Spankrock started to prove that he don’t need to slow down club’s frenetic rush to stay on, in front, and between the beats and breaks, the cops showed up and shut the whole thing down barely 20 minutes into the set.

Bummer, but not having a liquor license, charging $5 at the door, offering free beer, and police officers catching underage drinkers will bring everything to a screeching halt.

The Current Gallery was turned into a chill hanging spot for the night, with two opening bands setting up around the club, the DJs set up front with their backs to the storefront’s windows, and Spankrock treating the floor as his personal dance stage-cum-stomping ground. Sadly, PA problems prevented anything from getting going until around midnight, forcing those two bands to mash their sets into one hour, and waiting around turned into stepping away from the milling-about boredom for a spell. Local electronics and live drums quartet noise bomb Wzt Hearts let out a Borbetomagus-sized volume level of eardrum abuse, especially in such a compact space. With Shaun Flynn octopus-pounding on the kit and the three electronics blokes emitting and processing a passively hostile, monolithic wave of fuzz that you could practically feel pressing on your skin, you had to wonder if the trio was just trying to scare everybody out.

Perhaps such would have been better than the buzzkill of being made to feel like a teenager for trying to get some Spankrock on. Clad in movement-friendly slacks, a snappy dress shirt and sport coat ensemble with both sleeves Miami Viced to the elbows, and a fedora set at a rakish slant, Spankrock came across like indieground’s Diplo-approved Usher, with the voice, moves, and confidence to match. One witty adrenaline rush featured Spankrock repeating the name “Rick Rubin” until it became a cheeky dance-floor mantra for kitchen-sink genre crossbreeding. In another he found a way to rhyme between the slashing chug of a cavalcade of drum-machine latticework, floating over the lines like a Ping-Pong ball held suspended by a vertical hair dryer. He prolly had a lot more in his bag, but he barely got through four songs before cops showed up, cut the DJs, and asked to see the liquor license and person in charge.

While it’d be easy to hate the police for shutting down the fun, all’s we can says is, Dudes, this event was set up a block from the Inner Harbor and practically across the street from weekend-warrior party hot spot Trust. Police are just camped out down here on a Saturday night. So while we like the DIY good time as much as the next nightlife lover, next time just, you know, be a grownup and get your shit in line.

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