It should be common knowledge by now that a Rub party means nothing less than genre-bending and blending DJ sets that demand tremendous amounts of sustained ass-shaking. I danced my arse off when The Rub brought a little bit of Brooklyn to SXSW 2007. And I waved my rear end vigorously from side-to-side at The Rub’s 2006 Houston debut at Route 66 (3704 Fannin). Naturally, when I got word that DJ Eleven – one-third of The Rub – would be gracing the decks in our fair city, it didn’t take much in the way of convincing. I was so thurrr.
Last night was DJ Eleven’s first ever appearance in Houston. (He was conspicuously absent at The Rub’s Route 66 party last year). After a show Saturday at the Whiskey Bar in Austin with Rock Box resident DJ Witnes, he and Witnes rolled down to Houston for DJ Sun’s Rock Steady Mondays at The Flat (1701 Commonwealth).
Every Monday, DJ Sun and his guests transform The Flat into a laid-back, down tempo, dancehall affair – always a good time. The tiny bar boasts a loungey, intimate setting with unpretentiously hip ambiance. Mood lighting and cushy couches are the makings of good conversation, but I had to wonder how the place would handle the storied rump-shaking that a Rub DJ set affords. But a determined rearranging of furniture allowed for good close-quarter dancing in the crowded venue last night during DJ Eleven’s charismatic and eclectic set.
Sample tracks included Amy Winehouse’s “I’m No Good,” Q-Tip’s “Let’s Ride,” Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” Positive K’s “I Got a Man” and the Jackson Sisters’s “I Believe in Miracles.”
DJ Eleven and his Rub comrades are famous for their keen crowd intuition, so before the show I asked Eleven how he does it – induces the rump-shaking, that is.
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“The regional differences are where the trick is,” he said, “figuring out what people’s knowledge base is, and what joints they would want to hear that I wouldn’t have thought of playing otherwise. A lot of it is crowd psychology, which is endlessly fascinating to me – is how you move a group of people.”
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Although he didn’t play much of it last night, Eleven is a big fan of Houston hip-hop. Here’s what he said about his 2005 mixtape, Houston Rocks It: “I had gotten really obsessed with hip-hop coming out of Houston and listened to Geto Boys, Scarface, UGK – all the big players – when my taste was being developed. One of the things which really interested me about it is that Houston is a car-based city. It’s not a subway/walking city the way New York is. But I grew up in California, which is a car culture as well. I think that the music really affects the way people consume it. You listen to music a different way when you’re spending three hours in a car than if you’re spending twenty-five minutes on a subway listening with your headphones. One of the things I wanted to meld was slower tempo, more bass-heavy car music with a kind of a Attention Deficit Disorder way of putting it together by covering a lot of material which is very slow in tempo and really about riding to it in way that the songs keep changing to keep the energy level moving.”
As for the future, Eleven said he plans for “a lot of touring through the summer and early fall and a couple of different mixtape projects I’m working on – Public Enemy and one with Brooklyn-themed songs.”
Sounds promising. – Valerie Alberto