September 18, 2011
In a barren and industrial part of Brooklyn, outside of a concrete warehouse-turned shitty apartment building, thirty flamboyant hipsters and a bouncer stood in isolation. The heartbeat to house music steadily throbbed from the rooftop and echoed throughout the neighborhood, assuring those below that the ever-so pedestrian action of standing in line was only temporary. I had been in this line before, but I didn’t get in the last show. Now, with ticket in hand, I was guaranteed admission, at some point. The kid in front of me wore tattered jeans and a black silk jacket with a patch, which read “SILK JACKET” stitched on the breast pocket. He bent his knees and squirmed before turning around to talk to me.
“I have to piss. Can you hold my place in line for me?” After I assured him that his place in line was safe, he handed me two colorful pills. “So, you know I’ll be back.”
“That’s okay, I believe you,” I hastily blurted out as I handed him back his stash. He didn’t come back.
Before I knew it, we were fighting the 10-flight walk up to the rooftop. After a quick check-in, a fuzzy hippie branded each of us with an “All day I dream of you” stamp, and the line dispersed into the crowd. Bright orange cloth streamers and lanterns hovered effortlessly above the crowd. There were tents selling tacos and drinks on rooftop corners and plush couches with fluffy pillows.
In the center of it all were the high crowd, the nodding crowd, the dancing crowd, then the inner layers of the hypnotized crowd, who pressed as closely to the speakers as their ears would let them. Nestled deep in the seed of this energy, was the man responsible for it all, Lee Burridge. Unlike other DJs, who either remain behind the curtain or perched on a platform for those to admire, Lee was clearly responsible for this magic but put himself at eye level to identify with our emotions. It’s as if he depended on our energy to feed his fire of talent, and we didn’t disappoint.
I started at the outskirts of the high people and eased my way closer to the stage. Between the head nodders and the dancers stood a hybrid of sorts. This girl had her eyes closed and her mouth open and she swatted her arms at the air with every measure. My friend and I were completely spellbound by her. We watched every tone change sweep through her body and widen her smile.
“She doesn’t look high.”
“I think she’s just feeling the music.”
“Oh... can we do that?”
So, we decided to close our eyes and “feel the music” for about two minutes before checking in with each other afterward. About a minute later, we caught each other looking to see if the other one was bored yet.
The music was good, but I felt like we were watching everyone around us ride this exhilarating roller coaster, simultaneously experiencing the same bumps and loops with lofty expressions, but we had missed our chance to buckle in and were stuck holding everyone’s shit.
A new theme took over, and we were instantly drawn like mosquitoes to a bright light. The drumbeat echoed through me as the bass line established a strong foundation, and as Lee stacked one track over another, song samples mathematically strung together in perfection, my eyes closed and my jaw fell open.
Deeper into the song, I felt this powerful uplifting charge moving amongst the crowd. With the combination of Lee’s music and the crowd’s energy channeling through me, I felt pure freedom from everything I ever learned to know. I left this show with more than a new-found appreciation for house music. I now have further support that music is the reason why I live.
This show taught me a valuable lesson. House is not just a genre of music. You can’t judge it by downloading a 20-minute song and simply hearing. You need to be in a musty basement feeling the cold air wisp by, despite a tight sweaty crowd of blissful attention-deficit kids. You need to be on a rooftop watching jaded city girls close their eyes and let go. You need to be patient enough to saturate yourself with every feeling of animate being before you can honestly transgress to the next stage. You have been chosen to become the advanced listener. Don’t blow it.
Lee Burridge’s music is an intricate collection of whimsical stories powered by the energy of the crowd he entertains. Find a show and get your tickets early. This guy has some serious followers.