Tuesday, February 8
Better Than: That “mash-up” DJ my friend who just discovered that DJs play songs he likes is trying to tell me about as I type this. Ugh.
It’s been less than a week since our last visit, and we’ve already found a new reason to make the trek up to the lounge of the Ace Hotel. Last night’s big event? Switchboard, a new Tuesday-night monthly helmed by dance duo Telephoned’s Sammy Bananas and Maggie Horn. This is no dance party, though, and the saxophone sitting next to the turntables should have been our first clue.
Minutes after we walked into the hotel’s Liberty Hall around midnight, the show officially began, the lights focusing on a stool at the front of the room. We’re used to Horn fiercely dancing above a sweaty audience at Telephoned shows, but tonight she sat, legs crossed and slightly nervous, while a be-suited Sammy Bananas played saxophone during a lounge-y three-song performance. For a pair adept at making catchy dance beats paired with smooth, suggestive vocals, the lyrics to “Bewitched, Beguiled, and Bewildered” were as PG-13 as they got. Though we did hear one guy give a hoot at “I’ve sinned a lot, and I mean a lot, but I’m like sweet 17 a lot”; Horn, now settled into her groove, coyly brushed the catcalls off with a smile and a “Not tonight, fellas.”
If you’re confused, don’t be. While the pair is best known for club music, their foundation lies in warping favorites into something that sounds newer, fresher, and oftentimes stranger, e.g. Horn turning T-Pain’s “Can’t Believe It” into a sultry robo-trip as Bananas kicks up the beat into a dance groove. These aren’t covers or mash-ups or remixes, really, but rather their own interpretation of the songs, regurgitated as pop-friendly club bangers.
Switchboard is conceptual in the same way: Each guest is simply asked to play songs they love. And, while Nick Catchdubs and Eli Escobar served as the DJs for tonight’s inaugural event, the highlight of the night was r&b songstress (and one-time Estelle back-up singer) Shyvonne. “This is a different beat, but you know it,” she assured us at the onset of Kingdom’s “Mindreader.” She sang the original, but tonight, the aggressive, foot-stomping house track is stripped down to a soulful jam. Similarly, we watched her downplay the familiar knocking of “Pon Di Floor” to croon an angsty chorus of Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo” over top. Totally bizarre, but strangely engrossing. Looking forward to next month.
Critical Bias: How can you not love someone named Sammy Bananas who plays the saxophone?
Overheard: “I hope they always have babes at this thing.”
Random Notebook Dump: Drinks come with an included 18-percent gratuity. Maybe that will make you feel better about your $14 vodka soda.