Getting people to go out on a Wednesday night is difficult. I had quite the time of it myself, losing my group to homework or movie plans or other more traditional mid-week activities. Fortunately, the promise of J. Phlip’s “acid booty-tech bass” piqued the interest of enough friends that I didn’t have to go alone, and the kind of bitter exhaustion that can come after a long night offered me a groggy but happy pat on the back Thursday morning instead, like my body was thanking my mind for choosing music. “How was Necto?” my friends would ask. “Great,” I said.
Hopefully, the following is a more eloquent way of saying that it really was great. J. Phlip sold tickets and she made people dance, so obviously that’s great. But try as I might, I can’t seem to pinpoint that thing that makes people so excited about her music. Maybe it’s the coolness factor inherent in her deep, bass-heavy tech-house style. Maybe it’s the way she puts just the right amount of effort in, reading the crowd but staying true to her own musical desires — at least that’s what I imagined was running through her head as she bobbed up and down, punching the beats with her body. Maybe it’s the fact that her official Facebook page puts her in the genre of acid booty-tech bass.
I have yet to find examples of the artist herself describing the genre — perhaps because “genre” is such a hugely contested buzzword these days. Wednesday night proved that J. Phlip’s style is really something that should be experienced to fully comprehend, but it’s something like this: I know a lovely restaurant manager who is very concerned with aesthetic, specifically lighting. Whenever it comes time to brighten or dim he jokes, “Do it slow. We don’t want them to panic.” In a sense, that’s kind of what J. Phlip’s set was like. Not slow in that it didn’t progress enough; on the contrary, her set was beautifully paced. But it was decidedly anti-panic, allowing the crowd to relax happily into her smooth, steady rhythm, whether that be by jumping around or sitting and bobbing your head a bit.
Mind you this was not your average (read: boring) college crowd. It was a crowd in which a girl’s sweater trailed gracefully behind her as she circled the pole, so carefree she could have been on a playground. A crowd where a different girl with a cool mandala-style tattoo centered around her left elbow took full advantage of the space and jumped around literally nonstop. A crowd where two boys cared more about making out with the fire of a thousand suns than they did about space. A crowd where I saw my old career center counselor get down to freakin’ acid booty-tech bass. Damn.
A 21-year-old engineering student, Jessica Philippe produced a mix that won her a trip to LA and the chance to tour with DJ Colette and Reid Speed. She met her goal of graduating and, after her first single “RumbleRumble” made waves at the 2008 Miami Winter Music Conference, was signed to Dirtybird. Something of a vinyl fiend, she recently wrote a thought piece on grate digging for Dancing Astronaut that echoes the passion and fearlessness of her music. Reading it — especially in conversation with her performance — had me tapping into the coolest part of connecting to an artist, whether through words or beats.
Talking about her first time in San Francisco to the crowd, she described a solo cab ride, to what she later discovered was a sketchy part of town, where she experienced a life-changing warehouse performance that has stayed with her to this day. Acknowledging the boldness of her adventure, she goes on to say, “But that’s what we do. That’s what we live for. You would do it too.” And she’s right; I have done it, I’ll do it again, I imagine she will too. And should the time come that both J. Phlip and I end up in the same mysterious, random warehouse party, well, that truly will be the coolest thing ever.