Ultrabunny and Mark Farina
Friday, Aug. 14
DJ Mark Farina @ Grasshopper Underground
There was a moment in the late '90s when I was spending a lot of time in my room. I was in eighth grade, so I was about probably 13, and it made a lot of sense. The Japanese have a real phenomenon with the whole not leaving your room thing, and refer to it as hikikomori, or literally, "pulling inward," and that was me all day — making collages out of magazine cutouts, talking on the phone (landline), practicing eyeliner, and listening to music nonstop, without pause. Forgive the nostalgia, but that moment in time never fails to remind me that my generation was the last generation to collectively understand what it was like to be a hormonal teenager without the Internet. And whatever your opinion on that may be, I can confidently credit that experience with shaping my relationship with music — how I discovered it, listened to it, learned about it — the list goes on. Mark Farina figures into this because during that time, I was listening to a lot of trip-hop, like Portishead, Massive Attack, Air, etc. The graffiti writers, the skater boys, and those 411 skate videos would put me up on DJ Shadow's Preemeptive Strike, DJ Krush, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Mark Farina's Mushroom Jazz. Farina has been doing his thing since the '80s, but when I heard he was still touring and will be playing at Ferndale's Grasshopper Underground, I revisited his stuff and had a total acid flashback experience to my hermetic middle school days. Scent may technically trigger the most vivid memories, but sound must be a close runner-up. The Mushroom Jazz series, a compilation of house tracks mixed by Farina, is now eight volumes deep, and definitively sums up the genre that Farina innovated and named himself. The sound has one foot in early '90s East Coast hip-hop and the other foot in U.K. acid jazz. He loves Young Disciples, Brand New Heavies, and Galliano, for example. The result sounds like a mid-tempo blend of deep house and jazz, with obvious roots in the early San Francisco and Chicago house scenes of which Farina was an integral part. On a side note, I've always wondered if DJ Krush was an influence on Farina too, because the underground hip-hop scene in Japan paralleled that era, and was flourishing around the same time. While Farina's music conjures up a lot of solitary memories for me, his live sets are seriously not to be missed. Yes, the man has great taste and a flawless approach to sampling and mixing, but I think it's more his timing than anything that makes him one of the best live electronica DJs. He's not afraid to let the beat slow, or let a loop simmer for a bit, and has an uncanny intuition about what the crowd wants from moment to moment. It's what live house music should feel like — like your body has no choice but to dance. Doors open at 9 p.m.; 22757 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-298-0330; thegrasshopperunderground.com; cover is free before 10 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 18
Ultrabunny, Beekeepers, Spaceband
@ PJ's Jager House
In the tradition of Flipper, Void, the Butthole Surfers, and Bass Drum of Death, the Connecticut-based Ultrabunny is here to hurt you. They formed in 2002 after their previous artcore act, the both beloved and hated (though probably mostly hated) Bunny Brains (formed in 1988) imploded. This is music that slaps you in the face and makes you sweat. As they put it themselves, "Ultrabunny distills extreme glam/psych/noise/post-punk/no-wave/'70s rock into a performance that rivals the sound and fury of every record in yr local vinyl record store played simultaneously."
The band will play Detroit just a few days after performing at a Devo-curated festival in Cleveland, so they will likely be riding on the crest of a wave of a natural high, since Devo is their collective favorite band, as they are gentlemen of taste. Bring earplugs, please. Don't be rude, either, and show up in time for Spaceband and Beekeepers.
Starts at 9 p.m.; 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; www.pjslagerhouse.com; $6.