DJ Quik, the Gaslamp Killer, and more hit the Do-Over
The first rule of the Do-Over is that you don't talk about the Do-Over. At least, if you know who the secret guests are ahead of time. After seven summers, the party has become an almost ecclesiastical ritual -- each Sunday so crowded that the swarms leave you at risk of being permanently stained by Sangria. Hell, this week, even Spike Lee showed up.
That's the price you pay for a free weekly that has hosted the likes of Madlib, Flying Lotus, DJ AM, A-Trak and practically every DJ worth a damn. Founded by Jamie Strong, Chris Haycock and Aloe Blacc, the event is now at Hollywood's Cabana Club -- its third venue -- following stints regularly exceeding capacity at Crane's Hollywood Tavern and briefly, at Silverlake's El Cid.
Indeed, the afternoon's performers included the Gaslamp Killer, a premiere turntablist and producers who had commanded top dollar the previous night at Hard Summer. And rightfully so. Gaslamp Killer has spent the last year detonating dance floors and terrorizing men, women and children. If you haven't seen Will Bensussen spin at the Low End Theory or at random spot dates around town, you're missing out on the most demented and dynamic DJ barely taking time to breathe, a B-boy dancing like an electrocution, pantoming and controlling the crowd like a dusted Gustavo Dudamel. All charisma and a fro like a Jewish Oscar Gamble.
GLK's set included DJ Shadow, Ghostface Killah, Black Sabbath and Wendy Rene's "After Laughter (Comes Tears)." It spanned an hour and a half, extended time since the previously scheduled secret guest, Flying Lotus, got held up at customs on his way back from Mexico. That would have been plenty for most of the giddy, stumbling crowd, but most didn't know that L.A. hip-hop icon DJ Quik was the next surprise guest.
Rocking the stage in braids and a blue Adidas T-shirt, Quik flexed the skills that he's honed since well before he was peddling his bootleg "Red" tape on the streets of Compton. Before he ever picked up the microphone or made a beat, the artist born David Blake was rocking lunchtime jam sessions on the 1's and 2's. Raised in the old school model of calling out the song's name and adding a nugget of knowledge with the selection, Quik regaled the crowd with Stevie Wonder ("I appreciate Stevie Wonder for helping out the West)," Collage ("discovered up the street from here by the Whispers"), and the general greatness of '70s music ("they knew how to put it down to get girls to dance").
The set began with Quik dredging up other deep vinyl cuts, including Isaac Hayes' "Hung Up on My Baby" (sampled by him on 2nd II None's "If You Want It") and Eddie Hazel's cover of "California Dreaming." Gradually, he moved into hip-hop, pulling out T.I.'s "What You Know" and his own material, the Fixxer's "Can U Werk Wit Dat," even rapping along with the latter.
It was quintessential Quik, full of left-handed eccentricity and eclectic taste. The Fixxers flowed into the Eurythmics. He pulled out "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and let it bleed into something that resembled Baltimore club music. Then came Lil Wayne's "A Milli," Quik's own "Down, Down, Down," and Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun (if the Homies Can't Have None)." By that point, the crowd turned into a 1,000-plus person singalong.
A side of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" fell victim to turntable problems, to which Quik hollered, "This is some [stuff] Serrato can't fix. You're either a real DJ or not. R.I.P., M.J." Which led to perhaps the night's highlight -- Quik flowing over his most well-remembered cut, "Tonite."
There were other great moments too -- AMG's " ... Betta Have My Money," "Gin N' Juice," Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgetting," morphing into "Regulate." But as it has done for the last 20 years, it was "Tonite" that captured the feeling of a great Southern California summer weekends: 40s in freezers, strong smoke, hangovers the next morning and the ability to summon the strength to do it again.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: DJ Quik. Credit: Estevan Oriol