Mr. Carmack at The TLA

The eagerly anticipated #Blurrred series of parties landed in Philadelphia on January 21st, just ahead of Winter Storm Jonas, and it was apparent from doors that the city of brotherly love was ready to get in a full weekend’s worth of partying in just 5 hours (on a Thursday no less). Safe with the knowledge that bread and milk were nestled snugly at home, the deepest heads and headiest DJs of our fine city braved icy temperatures and a sense of impending doom (Thunder-Snow-Doom!), coalescing on South Street, to welcome the quadruple threat lineup of Philadelphia’s own Ethan (formerly Ethan Dubb), San Fran’s Teeko, Sterling’s Sam Gallaitry, and of course Oahu via California’s own, Mr. Aaron Carmack.

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Those in the know were treated to a last minute surprise meet+greet with all 3 of the traveling DJs, an opportunity seized and organized at the wire by Actual Records (in collaboration with the Creep Records store). Although soundcheck at the TLA ran late and delayed the talent, over 100 people queued between the 6 and 7 o’clock hour in No Libs, and when the guys arrived to sign posters (and literally anything people could rip off the walls with their names on it) you could tell the love Philly had for this lineup ran deep, and vice versa!

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Opening duties for the night were highly contested. We have it on good authority that everybody and their brother was begging for a slot on this event, promising first-born sons and hundreds of ticket sales alike. Luckily the team behind the event threw all that noise away and went with tried and true statesmen of ever-evolving genres and tempo’s, ETHAN (formerly Ethan Dubb.) Announced just a week ahead of the event, Ethan proved the perfect compliment to a bliss filled night that required an opener with finesse (and not a controller full of hot fire).

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Second on the bill, San Francisco’s Teeko is “that bol” according to MC Buddy Leezle, high accolades from the fellow SF native. The turntablist and co-founder of ‘4onefunk’ did not disappoint for a second, working the decks and the mic with the ease of a seasoned pro, hyping the crowd immediately and setting the stage perfectly for the endless series of payoffs to come from Sam Gallaitry and Carmack’s top half of the bill. A big up of the night came from Teeko himself, saying Philly’s own Ethan was “The best opener of the tour so far.” Now that’s respect, Philly! Be proud of that! Teeko was by far our stand out personality of the night, greeting his fans (on stage and off) with equal enthusiasm and surely making more than a few new fan converts from the crowd of early birds. We should mention advance tickets for this event were a mere $20, and included free admission to the meet and greet as well. In a world of ever rising ticket prices, this was really an event that gave back to the fans.

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Transitioning from Teeko was UK-import Sam Gellaitry. From the moment this 19 year old was announced on the bill the buzz for the event rose steadily. Arriving on his first US tour with his dad in tow (he sat on a stool on the stage grinning) we were saddened to learn that Sam had fallen ill and was lagging behind Teeko and Carmeezy (as Noah Breakfast calls him) on his way to Creep Records to meet his fans. Nonetheless the man himself burst in the backdoor and immediately mingled and signed merchandise (and a Mobile Production Center or two) on the floor of the store amidst pipes and vinyl alike.

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Not to be outdone by Teeko’s off and onstage antics, Mr. Carmack could be seen throughout the night’s events incognito, chilling in the cut, hugging fans, taking pictures or generally observing you when you might least expect it. The man wears many hats, and all of them are oozing with cool. He’s the most likable guy at the party, the one everyone wants to sit next to but nobody wants to embarrass themselves in front of, even though he might be pulling a fast one on you right before your eyes (and ears.) Mr. Carmack was on stage from the moment Sam G played his first note, rushing down the TLA backstairs in a concerned effort to make it to the stage and show his beaming support. As his fans know, this man’s smile is infectious and seeing him enjoying the programming of his own tour support alongside said DJ’s father, was really a joyous moment to behold for music lovers. You can tell these guys have a pure love for what they do, they “make music as if no one is listening” but you can really tell that when people show up with their ears wide open, begging for new soundscapes to visit from their trusted conductors, that these gentlemen take the call seriously; these are not jump up and down, trap-elbow DJs… these are music curators intent on taking you on a journey.

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The implicit trust of the crowd at the TLA said it all; every twist and turn was greeted with applause, attendees jumped for joy, danced without inhibition, and at times, just closed their eyes, smiles on their faces, and let the music wash over them. It was one of the best vibed nights we’ve ever felt at the Theatre of The Living Arts.

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As special as the venue and the talent of this evening was, it really was the crowd that brought this night together. If this is any indicator for the rest of the #Blurrred lineups to hit Philly from Actual Records and Steez Promo, you can count us in!

[Photo credit: D. Jacob Miller Photography]

[Article by Anthony T. Clifton]

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