Normally, a chilly Tuesday night in January would not be the most ideal setting for a raucous dance party, but when the renowned music and lifestyle brand Boiler Room descends upon the city of Philadelphia, a party is sure to jump off. For the past four decades Philly has been (rightfully) celebrated as a breeding ground for elite DJ talent. This reputation along with a thriving hip-hop and dance music scene made this Budweiser-sponsored meeting with Boiler Room a match made in nightlife heaven.
With a heavyweight line-up of globally recognized veteran DJs (Jazzy Jeff, Cosmo Baker and Matthew Law) coupled with two up and coming live acts (KUR and Joie Kathos), as well as a ready and energetic crowd, the stage was set for a memorable night. Philly turntable technicians were the central focus of the night, with the booth situated in the center of the dancefloor and the crowd encouraged to swarm around it, get up close and see how these party rockers work their magic.
As a diverse and energetic crowd filtered into The Foundry, Cosmo Baker and Illvibe Collective’s Matthew Law took to the turntables to set the mood. Traversing an impossibly broad range of music, Baker and Law embodied Philly’s traditionally eclectic, open-format DJ style: electric, technically precise, and encompassing a wide range of musical genres. Both DJs comfortably journeyed from hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae, EDM, house and more, much to the delight of the crowd. Joie Kathos delivered a brisk, fiery set, complete with unrelenting swagger and tightly choreographed dancers, while Mt. Airy rapper KUR brought rugged, streetwise rhymes, most notably his Uptown Philly anthem “Uptop! Uptop!”
Around 10:30, Hip Hop Pioneer and unofficial ambassador of Philly’s DJ culture, Jazzy Jeff took to the turntables and proceeded to launch the already manic energy of the room into orbit. Proving why he is regarded as one of the greatest DJs in the world, Jeff’s maddeningly eclectic set stretched across the musical landscape, effortlessly bouncing from Kendrick Lamar to Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie to 50 Cent, Toto and Joni Mitchell.
Even beyond the performances of the gifted DJs and artists that were featured, a casual look around the Foundry last revealed the reason why national and international brands like Boiler Room need to visit Philadelphia more regularly. From the joyous, hyped up audience reciting the words for each song, to the spontaneous coed breakdance circle, to the who’s-who of legends and up and coming Philly musicians and DJs peppered throughout crowd, Boiler Room’s Philly debut showed that our city possesses a music culture that is second to none and ripe for national and global recognition. Last night was brilliant but there’s no reason why we couldn’t do it again, shining a much needed light on Philadelphia’s bubbling music scene.
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