The Winter Night Lights series at Rio Room is the staff's attempt to bring edgier, more underground (for lack of a better word) DJ's to town. At least edgier and more underground than the Vegas-style top 40 or electro house sets that can typically be heard at Rio Room on any non-Thursday night.
Among this arsenal of artists (they are booked almost every week from now until March) is British producer/DJ Dave Taylor, aka Switch, who is well-known for his work with Diplo as the duo Major Lazer, as well as producing tracks for the likes of M.I.A., Beyonce and Christina Aguilera, among others.
To open up the night, the folks at Rio rolled out their stalwart opening DJ, John Feezy, whose diverse mp3 library allows him to hang with just about anybody the club's booking agents can throw at him.
Staying primarily within the moombahton realm, Feezy's set was a pretty good precursor for what was to come. When Switch was introduced via microphone, the decent-sized crowd cheered in what felt like genuine optimism and excitement.
The beginning of Switch's set was full of energy and momentum, and the crowd was starting to swell into what looked like a marquee night for the venue. That was, however, until a series of bizarre slip-ups during the CD-J set, notably during a couple of his own tracks.
A few skips here and there culminated in one very long and awkward pause as the DJ in question scrambled to find another CD with which to end the silence. It ended up being more of a reflection of the unstable nature of CD DJing -- especially in light of the much easier, more streamlined and portable alternative of laptop mp3 DJing -- than a referendum on Switch's abilities as a DJ, which were not in question.
Regardless of the slip-up(s), he moved on from the endeavor, as all DJ's do, and attempted to win back the crowd. The venue had suddenly thinned out from that point, but he continued with an all-out assault of viciously powerful bass, snare arpeggios and high-pass filter buildups.
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Unlike the tradition of many moombahton DJ sets, though, Switch played very few moombahton edits of ultra-popular pop songs. He instead attempted to win the crowd over with moombah-step, which at one point evolved into all-out dubstep.
All in all, there was very little in his set in the way of melody, at least ones that weren't being produced by monophonic, alarm clock-style tones a la Pon De Floor (as in the Beyonce's "Run The World" but without the Beyonce).
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The set reflected a vein of modern dance music culture that, while underrepresented in Dallas, still leaned toward the more mainstream side of the moombahton genre, not exploring the related worlds of cumbia, dancehall or future bass, and opting instead to keep it pretty damn clubby.
In effect, Switch's set seemed aimed at the Rio Room environment, and perhaps it wouldn't be too far off to guess that he was indeed playing to the crowd, although it wasn't necessarily tailored to the ear of someone who was not previously exposed to the genre. Barring a few mistakes (most likely caused by scratched CD's), his set was clean, well-mixed and deliberately structured, and certainly kept the females who dance on Rio Room's various poles busy.