I moved to Santa Monica around this time last year and quickly began walking around the surrounding neighborhoods to get acclimated to what the area had to offer besides the sand, surf, and pier/promenade vibes that emblazons every tourist and locals social media feeds. I quickly started to notice a series of large wheatpaste graphics rolled out over power boxes up and around Pico Blvd. that didn’t say much as to what it was except it featured a black background with a white image of the all-too-familiar logo ubiquitous with flying or entering a place where a cell phone interruption would cause death stares to melt anyone’s resting bitch face: Airplane Mode.
Fast-forward just about a year later from that day I’m headed to The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa excited and educated as to what AM is, was, and what the night has in store for me. Nestled in a little strip mall on 17th Street, The Wayfarer is a great local spot where good food, libations, and a rowdy nightlife catering to the service industry crowd is a venue where you would most likely find a local Sublime influenced reggae band, or a performance featuring surf-Goth pioneers The Growlers but not tonight. That night, the roster of L-Ephunk sound providers was headlined by the Gustavo Dudamel of the fellowship; GLK and his ministry of selectah’s – Phil Nisco, Roam, NO M.S.G., Free The Robots, Valida (KCRW), and presided over this beach bungalow of good vibes to bring their highly curated, eccentric, but sound selections to a fellowship of beat scene enthusiasts.
From start to finish the night moved like quintessential 5 parts of a classic story structure literary device whereas the opening DJ’s (Phil Nisco, Roam, and No M.S.G.) represented the “introduction/exposition” part by playing their position perfectly by churning out classic 90’s hip hop cuts, downtempo beats, and some beautifully placed but not-so-well-known tracks that was the perfect way to lure in the beat savvy crowd into the siren song being summoned.
With the audience filing in – some there for the showcase and some there because it was just another Saturday night at their favorite watering hole – the special guest turntablist/DJ Rhettmatic (LA – World Famous Beat Junkies) provided the “rising action” part of the evening who took to the stage and dropped a quick but savage set that was a huge privilege for those that have been WFBJ fans since the 90’s like I’ve been. With the fuse ignited it was the turning point where things went from 2nd to 5th gear pretty unexpectedly by highlighting Free The Robots whose frenetic original productions was the ideal candidate in the roster to supplement the continued “action” part of the evening.
Batting clean up in the “climax” part of tonight’s story was the mad conductor himself, The GLK who rinsed new releases by heavy hitters like Hudson Mohawke, Flume, Nosaj Thing, and Teebs as well as dropping new, exclusive singles he literally received before hitting stage (on vinyl I believe). If you’ve never seen the GLK you are in for a raucous, rancorous, rambunctious, and ADD fueled sonic onslaught that is part familiar, part avant-garde, and all original. Taking her position in the falling action and resolution part of the evening was KCRW’s own Valida that was well-timed to bring the back crowd from outer space and back onto the dance floor in a little room in Costa Mesa by dropping some classic, 90’s R&B sprinkled with causal albeit danceable party jams to help cleanse yourself after GLK and friends baptism by BPM.
I’m actually on a flight leaving from Burbank to San Francisco to cover a corporate medical conference (kill me) and as I type this last sentence the stewardess comes over the intercom to let us passengers know that it is time to put our devices into “airplane mode”. Seriously. It’s life imitating art.