I’ve been bringing my Dad to shows since the first wave of “EDM” back in early 2011-2012. Our tastes have definitely evolved since then but I still have fond memories of seeing Deadmau5, Porter Robinson (pre-Worlds), and Zedd with him back when they were all relatively new. I’m still working him up to his first festival so I thought the Dirtybird BBQ would be a good start. So I brought him along to make fun of ravers with me while listening to some great tech house.
The first Dirtybird BBQ in Chicago in recent memory, the San Francisco crew took over a large parking lot outside of Union Park on one of the hottest Saturday afternoons of the summer. The event’s kickoff coincided with the finale of the Chicago Air & Water Show with the Navy’s Blue Angels screaming overhead as Shiba San began to warm up the crowd. An odd yet fitting juxtaposition between the aggressive and sleek F/A-18s and the deep basslines of “Planet Floor” and the hit “OKAY.”
As Kill Frenzy hopped on the decks, Dad and I thought it best to hop in line for some free BBQ (which already stretched the entire length of the venue) before all the food was gone. Spinning a mixture of disco, house, and his unique brand of booty tech, Kill Frenzy kept things lively throughout the afternoon. As we waited in line my Dad sarcasticly marveled that there was no hair dying stations so he could get some neon colored highlights and then proceeded to point out a guy getting busted by security for trying to sell, what I presume was, molly. Head BBQ chef Grill$on, who could easily be mistaken for Claude Von Stroke from a distance, has become as much of a fixture at these events as Von Stroke & Crew was making presence known taking selfies and occasionally popping up in the DJ booth. As we neared the front of the line, he shouted over the crowd that “we’re out of buns, pass it down.” A little disappointed we messily tried to scarf down complimentary bun-less hot dogs and burgers as J. Philip did an impromptu back-to-back set with Kill Frenzy before taking over.
My Dad gravitated towards the large mechanical yellow shark where we gleefully watched drunk ravers struggle to get on the machine in the first place. We also took some selfies (see photo below) for posterity and it was at this point I came to find out my Dad had been live-Facebooking the entire show all day with photos and witty comments attatched to his posts. Determined not be outdone by my father’s social media savy I taught my Dad how to do “squad poses” (see photo below) which is easily the best decision I made all day. My Dad, being The Beatles fan that he is, began to liken some of J. Philip’s heavy-techno sound to Paul McCartney and his bass work. J. Philip easily became my Dad’s favorite set of the day and I’m inclined to agree with him. There is something mesmerizing about a techno set with its relentless 4/4 and sparse soundscapes. You focus on the subtle variations in each track while losing track of time and before you know it an hour has gone by without paying attention. A couple stand out tracks from her set included Precussions’ (a.k.a. Four Tet’s) “KHILI” and a dreamy acid rework of Jamie xx’s “The Rest is Noise.” Luckily for us J. Philip’s set didn’t end when it was supposed to and stretched for an extra half-hour because of a missing in Justin Martin.
In what became the epic saga of the day, that played out over Twitter and Snapchat, Justin Martin’s plane to Chicago was rerouted to Milwaukee because of storm leaving him stranded two hours away from the BBQ. Claude Von Stroke, who’s presence had been made clearly known as he popped up into the DJ booth during everyone’s sets, moved his time slot up to cover much to the audiences delight. Starting off with a little footwork before moving into his signature big badass bassline house originals getting the crowd riled up with tracks like “Make A Cake,” “Barrump,” and “Eye I Eye.” A guy leaned over to ask if I “gloved” which is exactly when my soul left my body and I died of embarrassment. I leaned over to my Dad to ask him if my dancing was embarrassing him. He said no but he wasn’t feeling Claude’s set as much as J. Philip’s. It didn’t “make [him] move as much,” and once again I have to agree with him. Don’t get me wrong, it was a perfectly fine set but I have my suspicions that Claude’s done better.
Luckily enough we got an unexpected headliner out of the fashionably late Justin Martin, who had by some mysterious force of nature made it just in time to fill in some of Claude’s old set time. To say Justin Martin slayed the one-hour set he was given is an understatement. Blending in some breakbeat, piano house, pop, deep house, tech, and even a trap breakdown, as my Dad made sure to point out to me so I knew that “he knew what trap was.” Songs like the acid VIP of “Function” and “Don’t Go (VIP)” absolutely demolished, reinvigorating a crowd that had been constantly going since 2:00pm. My Dad probably summed it up best when he leaned over to me, huge grin on his face, to tell me that he could “feel the bass vibrating in his baseball cap.”
Unfortunately the moment of pure ecstasy that was Justin Martin felt like such a great way to cap off the day that special guest DJ Premier’s unappreciated old school hip-hop set felt like an after thought. The crowd quickly thinned out as most people passed up on the opportunity to see a legend spin. Those who did stay were treated to a bevy of Hip-Hop classics and some truly impressive scratch routines from the day’s only vinyl DJ.
I love bringing my Dad to events like this cause it allows me to see things in a whole new light. Typically I’d miss the guy dancing in the crowd on his bro’s shoulders with wooden spoons but when my Dad points it out to me its insanely hilarious and memorable. Now my Dad is pretty open minded when it comes to different types of music but I do understand not everyone’s dad may be as open as mine, but I do highly recommend bringing your Dad to a rave anyway. It’s a riot! (and y’know family bonding and stuff…)