Monday Night Hero
It's almost midnight on a Monday night, and DJ Sun is in the middle of a set at The Flat (1701 Commonwealth).
That previous sentence should be read with about as much "Oh really?" in your brain-voice as reading "the sun came up this morning" or "Gary Kubiak just made another terrible call on third and 7." These things are dictated by law, really.
For the past 13 years, DJ Sun, seven-time winner of the Houston Press's Best DJ award, has crushed Monday-night listlessness into oblivion with his soular grooves. He did so from 1997-2005 at Café Brasil (2604 Dunlavy), and at The Flat since then. That's where Sun is now.
Driving by, The Flat looks an awful lot like a tiny rec center, but as mundane and modest as its exterior appears, The Flat is one of Houston's most interesting bars. It's small but not cramped, inviting but not desperate, and cool but not concerned about being cool.
"I love The Flat," affirms local R&B singer DeAndre Wright. "It's a really nice place to let your hair down and be around interesting people."
A quick scan around the room this Monday night reveals several interesting locals, including Teresa Waldon, co-owner of the award-winning clothing store SF2; Savvi, the stylish front man for local hip-hop group H.I.S.D.; and Jack Freeman, probably the best male R&B singer in Houston.
Plus, a very pleasant man usually has a table set up in the back and will, among other things, sell you a fake G-Shock watch for $30. That by itself might be enough to argue that The Flat is a vital venue.
But you can't separate The Flat and DJ Sun. In a phone conversation with owner Ziggy Morrow that lasts less than three minutes, he uses the word "integral" to describe Sun no less than three times. Every Monday night he's there, fingers to turntables, with rare exception.
At this point, it might be impossible to overstate how fantastic a DJ he's become. Sun is as sweet and unassuming a fellow as you're ever going to meet. But behind his turntables, he's willful and laser-focused, seamless in even the most outlandish blending of various genres of music.
In fact, it practically takes abstract quantum theories and formulas to understand all of the interactions that take place between time, energy and matter during a DJ Sun set.
To wit, it takes a formula cribbed from a very prestigious academic journal, and not at all made up, to quantify the amount of pleasure one of Sun's sets brings on. It's like sleeping with a woman you know is far too attractive for you, plus nachos, plus seeing someone you can't stand slip on a wet spot in a hallway, plus sunlight.
"He's one of the true greatest DJs ever," says Matt Sonzala, SXSW music programmer and still one of Houston's most influential music figures even though he's lived in Austin for a couple of years now.
"I was at some of his first Houston gigs. I have a tape of my old radio show in, like, 1992, gushing over how dope he is, for real," Sonzala adds. "He's the shit and a legend."
When confronted with the fact that people throw around such high praise about him, and explicitly asked how that makes him feel, Sun (never one to take an opportunity to talk about himself) offers up a simple one-word response:
It's almost midnight on a Monday night, and DJ Sun is in the middle of a set at The Flat. Things are as they should be.
DJ Sun; Jack Freeman; H.I.S.D.; DeAndre Wright
Be sure you try one of The Flat's mojitos. Not doing so would be like going to a Texans game and not booing Gary Kubiak. Yes, that's two "Gary Kubiak is a bad coach" jokes in one column. That's what happens when you appear to be actively trying to find more and more devastating ways to lose football games week after week.
Also, all the musicians mentioned above are worthy of your time and attention, so let's clean up some loose ends. DJ Sun, whose next album is due this spring, is online at www.soulargrooves.com. Jack Freeman's current EP, Dark Liquor, is, without question, one of the year's most surprisingly good musical projects. Get it. Find him online at jackfreeman.bandcamp.com. H.I.S.D.'s new album, The Weakend, is also very solid. See more at hisd.peaceuvmine.com. And read more about DeAndre Wright in the Artist of the Week archives at blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks or www.myspace.com/deandrewright.
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