Rocks Off has spent more time at Numbers than is probably wise to admit, and through those hazy, vodka-clouded years we have always thoroughly enjoyed the main dance floor DJ sets of DJ Mina, DJ Nick Night, and all the other darkwave masters of spin who ensure the pale gyrations at the monthly Underworld events.
As we've gotten older, and more and more deaf, we've started spending an increasing amount of time in Lloyd's side bar, or in the upstairs lounge. We like the main floor's music, but Kompressor does not dance, so no loss there.
It's sitting off to the side that we've become really enamored with The Dead Bang, a group that started a kind of pirate DJ set upstairs at Underworld about six years ago. Rather than the music designed only to dance to, Ms. Fluzee and the other Dead Bang DJs play post-punk, death-rock, EBM and eccentric '80s tracks.
"Don't get me wrong, we do play some crowd-pleasers here and there, but the main focus of the Dead Bang has always been to play the other stuff or, should I say, the 'side hits' of bands," says Ms. Fluzee.
With so much riding on the reaction of the dance floor crowd's reaction, it's sometimes a relief to just sit and let people with deep knowledge of the non-hits take you through a musical journey regardless of a track's catchiness. The rule on most dance floors is get them moving, get them thirsty, repeat. With Dead Bang the rule seems to be, "You've got to hear this!"
In addition to the regular DJs, Dead Bang invites a range of like-minded guest spinners, including Bret Harmeyer, who will DJ the 12 Annual Gothic Beauty Pageant this Saturday. Harmeyer is primarily known for his disturbing, but undeniably brilliant artwork, but, like most Houston goths, has dabbled as a DJ.
"While I don't exactly have a huge amount of experience with DJing the main floor, I would certainly agree that in a non-dance floor setting you have a lot more freedom to create atmospheres or introduce people to music they may not have encountered," said Harmeyer.
It's been sometime since we last hard a set from Harmeyer, but we can vaguely recall - vodka, remember? - him weaving a masterful tapestry of dark, atmospheric music that set the perfect mood for the goth crowd.
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Overall, the DJs involved with Dead Bang enjoy the freedom of being removed from the pressure to keep people dancing, and instead are able to focus on the increasingly rare art of introducing people to music in a stylistic and methodical way in order to elicit not only appreciation, but also induce a true atmosphere where someone can just listen.
We know where we'll be chillin' Saturday.