Real Grooves Volume 9 feat John Tejada, Tokyo

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  • “Sweat (on the walls)”
    In what appears to be becoming a surefire sign of a good party on the Tokyo scene, promoters Real Grooves recently hosted another party at the venerable Club Yellow, this time featuring genre-hopping producer, DJ and musician, John Tejada in two of his guises. Tokyo-based DJs John Connell and AKR warmed the crowd up very nicely with a solid set of minimal techno. People moved onto the dancefloor, and heads began to nod. The stage was set. Everyone was ready for a party. The lights came up on the live stage revealing John Tejada behind a drum kit and Japanese guitarist Takeshi Nishimoto in their I’m Not a Gun guise. Together, the duo launched into an hour-long live set of laid-back post-rock, Tejada handling the drums with ease while Nishimoto noodled away on his guitar. Tejada ably proved that he cannot be pigeonholed, while the crowd at Yellow seemed curious and interested in the shift from music that was electronic to (mostly) organic. It’s something I’d like to see more of: different, yet not contradictory styles of music at the same event, thereby serving to highlight the differences between them, and giving something for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps most importantly, it would provide clear breaks between each set, allowing the crowd to enjoy and digest each act individually, instead of having the entire night’s music blur together, as often happens at club based events. It is also, however, something that is quite difficult to pull off without alienating sections of the audience. It was certainly a bold move of Tejada to do this, and to his credit he held the crowd’s interest (or at least curiosity) for the full hour. However, the set was a little too laid-back, lacking in drive and hooks, ultimately succumbing to the “inoffensive aural wallpaper syndrome” that much post-rock falls victim to. Tejada then took a break for an hour or so while Tokyo based DJ Dave Twomey started the beats again. After this, was the moment everyone had been waiting for. Tejada stepped behind the decks. And then the party really began. Tejada tore into a four-and-a-half-hour DJ set that dug deep into the dancefloor, and then ripped it apart. Again proving that he cannot be pigeonholed, Tejada skipped across a number of styles during the set, from solid minimal techno, to the melodic Border Community sound, to rocking acid, yet brought it all together into one cohesive whole. Vital in anchoring the entire set were the incredible basslines; the structure of the music was rock solid. Even when Tejada dipped towards an almost neotrance type style, it was not airy-fairy, head-in-the-clouds music; this was a set with its foundations sunk deep into the ground. As Tejada opened his set with solid minimal techno the crowd responded eagerly. The party everyone wanted had arrived. For the first hour or so the dancefloor was jam-packed and churning as the crowd screamed and shrieked with every kick and peak. This built into a frenzy about an hour in when Tejada played Sleeparchive’s wonderfully deep remix of Monolake’s “Plumbicon” followed by Ame’s killer track “Rej”. After this peak Tejada eased off a little, swinging into melodic Border Community styled sounds, which helped calm the crowd and lighten the dancefloor somewhat as many clubbers took a break. This detour into lighter territory then took another turn, as acid lines began to creep into the tracks. Before too long Tejada was tearing into a series of rocking acid lines, all underscored by the rock solid basslines that remained constant throughout the set. The dancefloor filled again, with the crowd slightly less frenzied now, settling into the deep grooves of the music. Tejada had settled and found the groove too, deftly navigating the acid lines that came together to culminate on his own track “Mono on Mono”, and then dived deep below the surface to explore solid bass lines and rhythms for the final hour and a half. It was those basslines, compelling, driving, and deep, that kept everyone nailed to the dancefloor, right up until the very end, even though tired and sweaty. Tejada had indeed brought the party everyone wanted. Sweat on the walls, indeed.