The underground is alive and well in Brooklyn, championed by the Verboten brand and the emerging deep and tech house scene. At the forefront of this movement is Lee Foss who, along side Jamie Jones, Luca C, and Ali Love make up the deep house quartet Hot Natured, whose recent release “Benediction” has launched them all into the spotlight. The Verboten parties, with their no nonsense, stripped down aesthetic — one where the music comes first — have begun to gain serious traction in the developing New York City scene. While countless other venues have hosted deep and techie artists, SRB in Brooklyn has become the unofficial headquarters of the underground movement.
Last Friday night was reminiscent of the countless evenings I spent at Webster Hall in 2007, when seeing an artist like Axwell only cost a dollar and the track lists were practically unrecognizable. This was before the EDM explosion, when everyone in attendance was there for the music, not because of some strange sense of “cool.” Arriving at around 1:30am after catching an early set from Boys Noize at Roseland Ballroom the drastic change in atmosphere was a shock at first.
Devoid of neon and LED gloves, the crowd at SRB was more mature, likely made up of those of us who were desperately seeking refuge from the overcrowded and over-hyped electronic-pop acts that have infected the mainstream psyche. Lee Foss stood poised behind 3 CDJs and his Hot Creations branded laptop; a fold out table and a low stage all that separated him from the crowd of dance music-auteurs.
Lee’s stripped down set ebbed and flowed until nearly 5 in the morning, with a track selection that reflected that of his essential mix, creating an accessible, yet deep house vibe. The combination of gripping grooves with recognizable classics like “Perculator” served to ignite the packed, but not overcrowded, dance floor. Hearing Lee’s two recent originals, “Benediction” and “Electricity” played back to back on SRB’s stellar sound system felt as if I was hearing the productions for the first time. If you haven’t heard these tracks over a finely-tuned system, you haven’t heard them at all.
Lee Foss & MK – Electricity (Original Mix)
There have been recent criticisms that Lee’s sets are softening up, playing for the new crowd of fans who are just now being exposed to the underground. What Lee has done, both with his Essential Mix, his original productions and his Hot Creations brand, has been a boon to the underground scene. His sets are approachable but not poppy, striking a perfect balance between minimal and mainstream.
As the night continued, Lee spun tracks from fellow underground magnates, Maceo Plex, Clash Deluxe and Dennis Ferrer, who’s remix of Nicky Curly’s “Underground” defined the night with its bouncy 90s bass line and killer vocal cut.
Nick Curly – Underground (Dennis Ferrer Remix)
Where Verboten and the underground movement really shine is in their creativity and sonic diversity. There were numerous times in the night that I found myself Shazaming tracks, scratching my head in wonderment as I bounced and swayed to the type of music that grabs you and refuses to let go. What’s wrong with not knowing the tracks in a set? For me, that was always the point of going to a show and that’s what you get at a Verboten party, a sense of musical discovery and enlightenment that is so often lost in the mainstream sets of today’s heavy hitters.