Lingering Freedom

Internationals, locals, students, and tourists all ended up in the same spot for an funky throw down at Smartbar last night, where internationally acclaimed DJ Derrick Carter reigned supreme at the podium.

“I’ve been looking in the dictionary for a word to describe you…”

Watching Derrick Carter do his thing at the mixing deck with a handful of DJs standing in a row behind him is like looking at a bunch of Victor Frankensteins gaze down at their followers getting freaky on the dance floor. The grinding bass brings everyone to life for the very first time. First you’re in an old-school video game, then you’re hacking your way through a jungle with rabid animals at your feet. Next, you’re marching in an open field with a drum line and the crowd’s energy is keeping you going. All of a sudden, you’re in a jazz club with trumpets and saxophones blaring left and right, loud and soft, and finally back to center. The remnants of each fade linger, and your body needs to feel the beat again. Once you’re in the groove, good luck getting out.

There is no one word to describe Carter’s collection–it is that vast and impressive. Maybe music is supposed to do more than make people move their bodies, though. MLK’s voice in the “I Have a Dream” dub reminded me of the ongoing civil rights movement, revamped for a different generation. There was a time when people went to speakeasies to be themselves without societal pressures. Nowadays, house shows bring together some of the most liberal thinkers around, from doctorates of English to South side firefighters, proving that music is blind to how much money you have in your wallet.

Despite all the buzz, Derrick Carter remains down to earth. I met him briefly before the show and realized that he’s a regular guy who just happens to make amazing, “angular music,” to quote Bernie, a sociology professor visiting from Oxford. His music may be ethereal, but Carter seems real. And the reality is, the realer the DJ, the rawer the beats.

Review of Derrick Carter @ Smartbar March 9th 2013
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