Last Night: DJ Jazzy Jeff At Ghostbar

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DJ Jazzy Jeff with Mad Skillz May 6, 2008 Ghostbar

Better than: Watching a Will Smith concert during his Willenium phase.

Victory Park is such an anomaly to me. Arriving in the area at 11 p.m., there was nary a car on the road but--damn!--if all the parking meters weren’t filled while cars lining the roads of those sad excuses for streets in front of the W Hotel. Who are these people and where are they?

Upon finding a suitable parking lot, I headed on to the Ghostbar to check out DJ Jazzy Jeff. Thankfully, I still had some business cards (like a ton of ‘em) to hand to the door guy for him to check that I was on the guest list. Of course, I had to get grief about Andrea’s 30K millionaire story. Dude, that was so 2007. But alas, I was on my way up the 33 floors to find out that these must be the people who own all those cars out there on the street.

The place was crazy packed and DJ JJ wasn’t even on yet. He was slated to go on about 11:30 but it eked closer to midnight when Mad Skillz and Jazzy made it to the booth. It was at this point the night, or perhaps just this blog, could go in two directions.

Busting out with some old school 70s, for a moment, I thought I was at Trash Disco at the Village Station. But it was a brilliant start. With the crowd on hand won over before stepping behind the turntables, he held court convincingly and never let up with the hits. The bass turned up and tunes like "Best of My Love" and "Another One Bites the Dust" belted out a familiarity that chicks grinded to and dudes pumped their fists to. With a smooth transition, Jazzy proved again that any old Michael Jackson song is a crowd pleaser--and with good reason. That’s some good shiz.

His medley of hits fired up the floor and he’d even break it down where only the people were singing “but the kid is not my son” or clapping to the chants in "Wanna Be Startin’ Something." Despite the good music and healthy enthusiasm, all I could think was--dang!--this guy would be great at a wedding or house party. Probably a thought the Grammy winner wouldn’t have appreciated.

Then I ran into local musician Hans Handikraft aka Semantic Noise. Together we pondered over the night amidst, by then, an assortment of hip-hop hits. Handikraft hit the nail on the head when he said that Jazzy was just playing it safe and playing to the crowd. But is this a bad thing? Handikraft hoped for some underground stuff thrown in and I agreed. But, then, is it fair to expect a DJ to go obscure when at the same time, we’d get pissed if a band didn’t play their most popular songs?

What this really boils down to is I don’t quite get DJ concerts.

But, for a Tuesday night (don’t get me started on that one), Ghostbar was able to fill their huge glitzy spot both inside and out on the patios. Whether people were there for DJ Jazzy Jeff as a talented scratcher and mixer, he really is, or as an '80s/'90s pop culture figure, they were there en masse shaking their bodies down to the ground. But they weren’t really dancing, just heavy shaking. --Rich Lopez

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias:: None other than curiosity. Initially I thought it was going to be an “Oh, watch the guy who didn’t make it big try to remain relevant” show. That wasn’t the case here.

Random Note: Ran into fellow judge Micah from the DJ judging we did for the Ultra Music Festival.

By the way: Why is there a street in Victory Park called Museum Way when there are no museums in the way?

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