Live: Rustie Gets Maximalist At Santos Party House


Rustie w/Mess Kid, Kilo Kish, Spaceghostpurrp
Santos Party House
Tuesday, May 15

Better than: Being in a quiet, big room.

Glaswegian producer Rustie (born Russel Whyte) makes huge dance tracks that are helping define a new maximalist, everything-goes ethos in electronic dance music. The basement of Santos Party House, where he headlined the Shortcuts party last night, is relatively tiny. This resulted in people new to the space, but familiar with Rustie’s work, inspect its close walls quizzically, seemingly wondering how so much sound was going to fit into such a small space.

As it turned out, the sound fit just fine. Despite having to wait an hour and a half for initial opening act Mess Kid to arrive, and another two and a half for the man himself, the crowd thrilled to Rustie. He responded to the enthusiasm deftly, playing well enough to merit an encore even as half the crowd was exhausted to the point of collapse, but still awake enough to thrash around and elbow each other’s faces until Whyte’s laptop was shut for good.

Mess Kid‘s entrance was subdued (perhaps to match his excellent “Comme De Fuck Down” hat) but he warmed the crowd up nicely before last week’s Voice cover girl, Kilo Kish, took the stage on the opposite side of the room to perform cuts from her debut EP Homeschool. She showed off an impressive range of flows, going doubletime on “Crosstown” and recalling Q-Tip at his most abstract on “Busboy.” Spaceghostpurrp added an edge, taking the stage with about 20 friends and supporters who infiltrated the crowd and moshed to songs like “Suck a Dick for 2012” (a name change for the new year!) and “Get Yah Head Bust.”

And then it was time for Rustie. For those familiar with his work, his thrilling debut Glass Swords (Warp) and Essential Mix for Radio One served as primers for the set list. But he decided to give even his most familiar tracks a new spin, stretching out, filtering, and redesigning his catalog for maximum impact. “Globes” and “Flash Back” were refitted with longer intros to allow for heavier drops, while “City Star” appeared in its “VIP” form, which brings to mind a cover using only bubbling and drip noises. (It’s good, I swear.)

When not tweaking the familiar Rustie played solid new tracks and showcased the likes of Hudson Mohawke, Flosstradamus, and Baauer. He also played a lot of excellent rap, including Rick Ross’s “MMG the World is Ours,” and “Wassup” by A$AP Rocky. Up until last night, Rocky had been the most popular performer to play the Shortcuts party, run by True Panther Sounds label head Dean Bein and supported by rappers Heems (of Das Racist) and Despot. The leap from Rocky to Rustie makes perfect sense; Rocky aggregated rap regionalism and created a mix of Queens, Cleveland and Houston that made sense as a whole, and while Rustie’s working with larger regions—and a more extensive sound library—he, too, knows how to throw everything into a pot, boil away the unnecessary bits, and produce a coherent, pummeling behemoth.

Critical bias: Rustie’s my favorite unassuming Scottish DJ.

Random notebook dump: Spaceghostpurrp’s stage had a pharaoh figurehead which appeared to be attached to a wall of tin foil. During his set, some part of the structure caught fire. Spaceghostpurrp’s response: “Fuck this fire. We the fire.”

Random notebook dump II: On his Robin Thicke collaboration “Shooter,” Lil Wayne took personal issue with radio stations “being rapper racist, region haters” and claimed that those who think “Southern rap [is] too simple… don’t get the basics.” Seven years later, pop producers and up-and-coming rappers use the sounds of the South constantly: Mess Kid chopped up “Southern Hospitality” to create ATL bass music; Spaceghost, when you take away the lo-fi, is a distillation of Three 6 Mafia into one man; and Rustie’s obvious appreciation of Southern rap tracks is made even more plain by the way he uses handclaps and the high-strung energy of crunk music, not to mention his enthusiasm for the dynamic club anthem.