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'Pot' of gold?

Party promoters DangerCrew look to set standard with 420 fete

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708 Spring St., April 20 --April 20 is 4/20, dude. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!
But for those of us who've left college far behind, it's hard to take this de facto National Stoners' Day too seriously. Luckily, the DangerCrew production group put some serious work into organizing a night of diverse quality music. Featuring headliners MOJO99, Aerial and DJ Harry, last weekend's "420" party was hardly half-baked.

It helped that this wasn't the DangerCrew's first event. The core crew of weekend warriors -- DJ Matt "Starboy" Silliman (of Karma and Trinity), DJ/designer Jason Gerry (also of Trinity), micromanager Dan Caplan and street promoter Brian Friedman -- first got together in 1999 to plan a series of millennium-inspired "600 Minutes to Sunrise" parties that peaked this past New Year's at the Sheraton as several thousand revelers crawled out of -- and drunkenly back into -- the woodwork to celebrate in style. DangerCrew follows up on that thrill with a collection of performers different in genre but similar in energy. And while last weekend's "420" party ended up drawing only several hundred people, it wasn't for lack of talent. And the crowd was as varied as the sounds.

The event -- held at 708 Spring St., formerly Loretta's -- was targeted not only to Midtown club crawlers, but to underground hip-hop fans, breakdancers, college kids and neo-hippies (the post-String Cheese Incident crowd from the Fox). The result was a crowd not too glam, yet not completely granola. A gaggle of Bill Hallman Betties flossed to one side perched on high heels as kids shuffling past in Birkenstocks watched their toes warily. Former house DJ Silliman dropped breaks as lighting danced on an empty dancefloor and partiers stuck to the sidelines as awkwardly as a junior high prom.

The crowd showed some life, however, when MOJO99 took the stage a little after midnight to offer up the evening's first communal joint ... of the musical kind, that is. The MOJO99 horde looks like nu_metal meets Nelly and the St. Lunatics. Their sound, on the other hand, was wah-wah-heavy punk-funk, not quite thrash hip-hop but definitely the stepson of the Judgment Night soundtrack's mid-'90s rock/rap pairings. In keeping with the 4/20 theme, we'll call MOJO99 a fine hybrid strain.

Elsewhere, local luminary D.R.E.S. tha Beatnik brought the house down with some aggressive guest MCing, and Silliman offered a set of jump-up drum 'n' bass. And with Bethany playing house in the front room, underground hip-hop in the back, ATLglassworks.com blowing pipes and a low-lit side room complete with plush bed, there were plenty of flavors to savor in the warehouse-like spaces. Yet there was still more bodies mingling than moving when lucid dream machine Aerial took the stage shortly before 2 a.m.

Everyone's attention soon turned back to the stage once the bass lines start rolling and the room began reverberating with the shiver-inducing wailing of a sax. Aerial used to super-saturate the area, playing Nomenclature what seemed like every other week. Now, with a recent self-produced release, Chasing Thoughts, under its belt, the group plays just every few months, which only heightens the intensity of its all-encompassing cloth of breakbeat patterns, acidic patches and vocal shrouds.

Finally, partway into Aerial's set, the sweet smell of marijuana began to waft between the slowly gyrating green-and-blue beams of light strafing the crowd. People swayed to straight house and fairy-tale drum 'n' bass as Aerial made way for Colorado's DJ Harry.

Harry bobbed his blond dreadlocks, surveying the crowd from the raised DJ booth. Previously on tour with Canada's the New Deal, he is no stranger to mixed crowds -- and he mixed progressive house, tribal and trance to match, leading the crowd early into the next morning.

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