- This holiday season, the Future Times crew had plenty to celebrate. The label appeared on various best of lists, with its standout 2015 release, Jack J's Thirstin', hitting number two on our top tracks poll. Still, there's a sense that Future Times is more appreciated abroad than in its birthplace, Washington D.C., a city with transient student and political populations. For the label's semi-regular holiday party, core DJ/production duo Beautiful Swimmers and Jack J took over the capital's main dance club, the U Street Music Hall, providing an occasion to take stock of the banner year.
The streets around the club were quiet on the 23rd, with many would-be revellers having already headed home for the holidays. The 500-capacity space was about two-thirds full when I arrived, a solid accomplishment for a lineup that was still fairly underground. The Swimmers' Ari Goldman works at PPU-related online record shop Earcave, and his vinyl collection reflects his vocation, while this year has seen his partner and Future Times boss, Andrew Field-Pickering (AKA Max D), further explore jungle and IDM fixations. The duo and Jack J casually traded tracks all night, with Sterling Warren deftly handling MC duties to add to the celebratory vibe.
The crowd consisted mostly of friends, fellow producers and music nerds, nearly all of whom were moving when Ari Goldman dropped The Believers' piano streamroller "Who Dares To Believe In Me." Field-Pickering and Goldman are among the most physically emotive DJs out there, the former banging the wall behind the stage while Goldman came with the air piano and sax in between meticulous mixes. When Jack J stepped up, he played woozy house with highlife and disco edits, flying Future Times' basketball T-shirt in another display of team spirit. The last 90 minutes saw all three going back-to-back, with Field-Pickering's inevitable breakbeat onslaught leading to one of the night's most thrilling mixes—after he dropped Pangaea's toast-heavy "Stimulant Dub," Jack J worked in Joe's perfectly fitting "R.E.J. Bit."
Even a 2 AM curfew proved too much for a good number of attendees, and the crowd was noticeably lighter by 1 AM. Perhaps with Christmas just around the corner, they felt the need to part ways with their Future Times family to head home to their actual mom and dad. (It's worth noting that Field-Pickering's own father was in attendance.) Sami Yenigun, co-founder of rising D.C. label 1432 R, told me that Future Times events create a rare intimacy at U-Street. As the night went on and the crowd grew smaller, the DJs stoked this feeling with increasingly personal selections: drum & bass bled into dancehall, dancehall bled into Masters At Work's Janet Jackson remix. It all reflected the label's omnivorous and charming approach, which has allowed it to build a community around itself.