SF Weekly's All Shook Down Fest
featuring Crystal Castles, Mistah F.A.B., Maus Haus, and more
August 6, 2011
[See Part I of our ASD Fest roundup, featuring Battlehooch, Richie Cunning, and Con Brio]
Better than: Your usual epilepsy triggers.
A soupy, vaguely unsettling fog occupied the main ballroom of the Regency Ballroom around midnight Saturday. The orange house lights clicked off and left the former movie house in humid blackness. Then, somewhere in the dim mist, Crystal Castles summoned up the sonic assault of "Doe Deer," and the dark was suddenly stabbed through by piercing white strobes. Frontwoman Alice Glass appeared writhing at the front of the stage like some freakish apparition silhouetted against a blinding curtain of light, then darkness, then light. As the band moved into "Baptism," Glass' limb-flailing reached a new intensity, and the audience took off moving madly along to the beat with her.
It was easily the most anticipated single moment of this year's All Shook Down music festival -- and also the one most likely to induce epilepsy. But if Crystal Castles' blinding explosion made for the night's climax, many other local artists spent a long time getting the energy ready to combust.
For much of the evening, the Sutter Stage downstairs was the site of a titilating beat-and-rhyme-filled party. Oakland's Seasunz and Earth Amplified kicked it off with eco-friendly hip-hop -- just two MCs, a live drummer, and a sampler. The sound was sadly muddied by the drums' reverberations around the room, but the positive vibes were intact -- even if there weren't many there to witness them.
Then local DJ J-Boogie took over the area with his Dubtronic Science group, which adds live brass, vocals, and percussion to his party-starting mix of Latin and hip-hop beats. Maybe it was because Battlehooch finally finished playing upstairs, but this combustible mix drew some of the biggest numbers to the downstairs stage all night, setting off a joyous sway-fest. J Boogie himself presided over the decks in the back, distilling classic rhythms that took on a new life buoyed by congas and the horn players. The group's MC -- the talented Aima Paule -- showed off amazing skill at rhyming over just about any kind of beat that dropped, whether a classic soul break or a thick reggaeton thump. With a sizeable throng, the downstairs finally felt like a thriving party.
From there it was back upstairs to the Main Stage for Maus Haus. We were thrilled to see that the band had brought some of its brain-melting video projections to go along with its brain-melting music, filling out the cavernous ballroom with an otherwordly assemblage of synth lines, unforeseen detours, and tricky beats. Conditioned by previous stage occupants Battlehooch for more than a little weirdness, the crowd seemed to be enjoying Maus Haus -- and the band members seemed to be putting everything they had into the show. A few synth lines sent legit shudders through the walls. "Rigid Breakfast" hit like the opening shocker of a robo-horror movie, maybe surprising a few crowd members with its stilted collage of rhythms and instrumental parts. "I have a feeling that we like you more than you like ..." frontman Jason Kick started, and then trailed off. "I dunno how to finish that sentence."