Last Friday, the Los Angeles based global DJ collective Subsuelo presented Los Tres Marks, a showcase that featured three significant players in the hip hop/jazz fusion world – Money Mark (Beastie Boys), Mark de Clive-Lowe (Tru Thoughts), and DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5). The event took place at the Bootleg Theater and was attended by a crowd of several hundred people that was as diverse as the musical selections that were heard.
Subsuelo resident spinner DJ Ethos got the night started with a set that seamlessly mixed ethnic music styles with scratching techniques and hip hop beats. A visualizer screen with scenes from black-and-white Mexican movies played in the background.
Money Mark was the first of the three Marks on the bill. After taking the Bootleg’s front room stage with drummer Eric Gardner, he announced that he was about to perform an improvisatory set, something that would resemble one of his living room creations. A forty-five minute musical menagerie followed with equal moments of controlled chaos and utter disorder. Passages of low, 8-bit bass frequencies with loose or non-existent time signatures traded places with jazzy outbursts resembling those heard on Ill Communication, the seminal Beastie Boys’ album to which he strongly contributed. Over the course of his set, Money Mark utilized a multitude of keyboards, an electronic box that made digital noises, and several electronic boards with random knobs and levers. He even got a volunteer from the audience to perform a fuzzed out bass line on his last jam. Although the set was shaky at times, its rawness and segments of pure, in-the-pocket groove gave the audience a glimpse into the artist’s multidisciplinary, musical mind.
The Subsuelo crew then took over and presented a flamenco/DJ set that featured two dancers, two cajonists, two guitarists, and two dancers performing alongside DJ Ethos. The ensemble produced a sound that was heavily steeped in traditional flamenco yet contained subtle modern influences which made the performance more accessible to hip hop and jazz fans. Electric guitarist Tuti Fernandez of Madrid and cajonist Jorge Perez also of Madrid were especially impressive in their solo sections.
MARK de-CLIVE LOWE
After Subsuelo’s set, the party moved to the larger stage in the adjacent warehouse, and Mark de Clive-Lowe soon emerged. He introduced himself and told the crowd that he was going to create a live, free form DJ set. He then manned several keyboards and a multitude of electronic boards, proceeding to do exactly what he set out to execute. The infectious rhythms created by a mixture of hip hop beats and jazz piano immediately vibed with the crowd and moved them non-stop for an hour. In the middle of his set, a PA system malfunction caused the lows to drop out, but the issue was soon resolved and Mark de Clive-Lowe finished his performance with impressive displays of energy and virtuosity.
After the second Mark left the stage, the Subsuelo flamenco crew emerged from the middle of the crowd with an impromptu drum circle. This further pumped up the audience and prepared them for DJ Nu-Mark’s closing set.
Over the course of an hour and fifteen minutes, DJ Nu-Mark easily transitioned between thirty plus songs with smoothness rarely heard. He spun a multitude of styles, ranging from doo wop and cumbia to hip hop in all its incarnations. The most unique part of his performance came forty-five minutes into his set. At that time, he switched from using the standard turn tables and electronic boards to a random assortment of children’s toys, which produced a sound equally impressive in its complexity and comedic elements. Although the show approached closing time, the crowd remained faithful and kept dancing to the end.
To cap off the night, all tres Marks took the stage and performed a 10 minute jam. Although it was short, the chemistry was definitely apparent. Maybe we’ll hear of a future collaboration? If not, at least a moment in time existed when a meeting of three of contemporary music’s most innovative minds occurred.