It’s going down in Pittsburgh tomorrow nite! This is gonna be a pretty awesome evening, with some of my favorite deejays playing on a killer four corner soundsystem at a venue with a nice sized dancefloor. ISM contributors Frank Glazer aka Count Zer0, Jwan Allen, and myself are joined by special guest and good friend Chris O’Connor aka C02 for 5 hours of tag-team all-vinyl goodness. Big ups to the guys at Humanaut for making this happen. There’s even more big shit on the way from these guys and us in 2012, you’ll definitely be hearing about it here, on my Facebook, and on my Twitter. I predict Pittsburgh is going to be taking it up a notch or two this year, above even the craziness that was 2011. This is the time to get down here if you wanna witness some ill shit!
I’m not usually one to reminisce very much, primarily because I like to keep planning more and more new shit for the future. But this gig in particular makes me very happy, and it makes me think back. House and techno culture in Pittsburgh were primarily based in the 90s rave scene, and all these deejays playing tomorrow night can say that their journeys as deejays begin in or before that time. The days of Hypervinyl Records in Oakland being a central meeting place as well as the spot to get all the best music coming out loom large in that history. To this day a large number of my best friends are people that I met there. This was the heyday of dance music in Pittsburgh, and we were involved in it by playing records, throwing parties, working in record shops, etc.
Then the rave scene crashed and died in the early 00s. Things got very small for house and techno in particular, moving into spaces like Havana, Pub IG, Ray’s Bar and Grill, Level, etc. Hypervinyl closed and was replaced by shops like Milk Records and 720 Records. I can remember us being amongst the maybe 50 people who saw Metro Area deejay in Pittsburgh in 2004, or the 40 or so who saw Brett Dancer play here in 2005. Even the “big” events like Bugz in the Attic or Norm Talley were nowhere near what had once been. Friday night parties at the Warhol Museum were a godsend, bringing in good music and supporting the local deejays. Through this time, we were still playing records, working in record shops, throwing parties, basically living the life. Things REALLY took a dip in the later 00s as the usually consistent Havana closed, record shops began playing a less important role as deejays picked up CDs or laptops, and many of the older crowd moved on in life or moved away from the city. We soldiered on, doing our ever smaller parties at venues like Shadow Lounge and Remedy, the huge stacks of records behind the turntables only increasing in size and diversity. I started ISM partially to stay connected to what was going on outside of the city at that time. Our annual trips to DEMF became an opportunity for us to cram an entire year’s worth of partying into one crazy weekend, because that was the only place we could get to see the kind of music we loved and lived.
Now, things are clearly on the upswing. Parties are bigger, there are lots of new faces in the crowd (most of whom were probably children in the time we started doing our thing!), lots of new people taking up deejaying and promoting more serious music, and it is all happening on its own as opposed to being part of the rave culture. It took a long time to build this into what it is, and a lot of work from a lot of people. Massive props to those who are doing all the work now to make all this happen! But I want to take this time to give it up to those who have stuck with this music through thick and thin, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, etc. So many have fallen by the wayside due to moving away, giving up, dying, or a bunch of other reasons. The number who are still around and deejaying is very small. The number who are still around buying new records constantly and continuing to do it the way we started out is even smaller. We keep searching out the freshest new music because it is what we have done for a long time. We were just teenagers when we started, and now we are adults. It’s been a long, weird journey! But we know no other way of doing things. It isn’t retro for us; we’re not trying to be hip by playing vinyl.
What we’re going to do on Saturday night is a culmination of the decade and a half each of us has spent with dance music. You’ll hear house and techno of course, but also electro, disco, broken beat, and more. We’re bringing out three turntables and two mixers, and we’re going to tagteam all night long. We’ve been playing records together so much and for long enough that we know huge chunks of each others’ considerable record collections. We’re gonna take those records and see what we can make happen with them! Just like we’ve been doing…
Big ups to all those who are still around from back in the day, I’m not naming names because I don’t want to leave anyone out. You know who you are. Big ups to all those new cats getting it done today, again I’m not naming names but your efforts and passion are awesome. The meshing of the two is most important, I hope to see it continue and Pittsburgh will be all the better for it. Together we will all finally see things pop off the way we have always wanted it to!