When most people think of a Monday night in the District, home-cooked meals and early bedtimes likely come to mind. But surveying the packed club at U Street Music Hall on Monday night, nobody seemed hungry for anything other than swarming techno. And it didn’t seem like anyone was ever going to go to bed again. With spastic, angular sounds that came down with relentless force, the German DJ Alex Ridha, better known Boys Noize, brought Monday night to its knees.
Ridha grew up in Hamburg and cut his teeth supporting big-name DJs such as Felix Da Housecat and DJ Hell. He has released three original LPs and has remixed tracks for such hip-hop big shots as Snoop Dogg and N.E.R.D. He is also a renowned producer, working with the likes of Kelis and the Black Eyed Peas.
But for all of his links to pop music, very little pop sound worked its way into the set. His timbres oozed with menace, bass lines blackened by undulating sub-tones. There was very little sweetener: a melodic ping here, a hip-hop sample there, but, thankfully, nothing too saccharine to spoil the bitter intensity.
Instead, metallic growls slashed across rotund bass kicks, sending thick vibrations through a sweaty fog. From the back of the club, the room looked like a tangled mess of arms and tank tops, moving faithfully to a drum, all set under strobing blue and white lanterns.
The performance vacillated between stuttering Baltimore break beats and locked-in techno grooves. Tempos aside, Ridha played at one speed, never taking his foot off the gas. The set suffered a bit because of this. The bang-you-over-the-head drops, rolling in one after another, would have been more effective had he given them room to breathe. Still, the sea of X-marked hands rocketed into the air every time another banger clamored into the room. Ridha never overestimated the stamina of those on the dance floor.
Yenigun is a freelance writer.