Nov 02, 2010, 07:54AM

Baltimore Club Hits the Road

Say Wut at Artistika in Greensboro, NC.

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A club show outside Baltimore is hardly an anomaly these days, but Say Wut's Thursday night set at the nightclub Artistika in Greensboro, North Carolina, was pretty far removed from a typical in-crowd dance party. Organized by a few Guilford College students who undoubtedly scour the Internet for fascinating micro-genres and about-to-bubble-over dance scenes and bring them to the tiny-ass college town, this was essentially an off-campus dance night turned into something far more remarkable.

Say Wut's sound is close to the stuttering, retro-futurism that dance music in general's going for right now and he's probably influenced more of it than most realize. So, when he arrived on stage after an opening DJ who did the whole Diplo shtick (fluttering dubstep, Rio Baile Funk, lots of Philly club from DJ Sega), an audience not all that familiar with the Baltimore innovator was very much attuned to his rubbery horns and frantic, decidedly not-grimy drums whether they knew it or not. Still, when “Set It Off” began, louder and brassier than the stuff that came before, the crowd shuffled, not exactly sure of what to do with such a lurching, moaning track.

Wisely, Say Wut brought along two exuberant dancers, which gave the hesitant audience some understanding of how all this was supposed to go down. Be-Z and The Renaissance Man balanced the free-for-all, wilding-out done by Paradox amateurs on any given Friday night with a tinge of choreographed professionalism--and it worked. By the end of the set, the Renaissance Man was grabbing energized members of the crowd and playfully shoving them to the center of the floor. A girl pounced onto the stage and danced lewdly; her skirt hiked up around her stomach. The whole thing was really close to the communal chaos of a show in Baltimore.

Credit is due to the awesomely open-minded crowd but to Say Wut as well: He found a proper balance between unadulterated club and something a bit more digestible for a room of club n00bs. Leaning heavily on selections from his summer mixtape Streets Of Baltimore 2.0 but rearranging the tracks (teasing “I'm The Ish” for even longer) and throwing a few curveballs (Blaqstarr's “Get My Gun,” DJ Pierre's “Let Me Get That”), Say Wut eschewed the spastic build-up of most club mixing for a sustained intensity, finding space in the high-BPM craziness for a good and proper groove. He even took to the microphone on “Go Off Wit It” and injected the set with a few moments of crowd-pleasing storytelling ("We're gonna take you to the Paradox! The Paradox is the club in Baltimore...") that helped explain club a little more and gave the crowd the feeling that they were witnessing something one of a kind. Which they were: How often is Baltimore club coming to Greensboro, North Carolina?


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