Q-Burns Abstract Message
5, Washington, DC • December 22, 2001
5. The millennial hipster’s hep joint. All in black with shiny geometrics, tightly T-ed waitstaff with their “Fuck U”/”I (Heart) Me” messages of global understanding, mirrored bars with imported drinks that only take platinum cards. An unassuming dance floor beneath a tyrannical DJ bunker that’s there if you need it — but you can lounge in the Archie Bunker sofas if you just want to watch in designer-scented superiority. Cool — or what cool would be through a Soderbergh lens. All smoke machines and Marlboro Lights.
But, on this Saturday night — the Saturday night before Christmas — was lethargic in the sculpted poses of dilettante ennui. Nobody moving in their tight polyester and black raiment — stuck between the end-of-the-year malaise and visit-the-family angst. The DJ cut, sliced, diced his deep house grooves to no effect.
Then came Q-Burns, in DJ T, androgynous haircut and Army surplus-thick glasses. Neo-Gates chic. Deep, soulful house vibrated the club. The crowd stirred. Folks started moving. Slowly. Rapidly. A mad, lemming rush. Soon, there was an euphoric frenzy on the dance floor. Sweat popping and locking with the obligatory Glow Stick parade.
Burns jerked and spasmed in his DJ pillbox, rocking along with the crowd. He would pare down some lush house to its minimalist best — yet, never lose the crowd — throw in some world beats, funking us all the way down to Brazil. A set that challenged — staying on the periphery of dance acceptability. But the 5 crowd could not stop. There was no mass exodus from the arena. No matter what quirky things Q-Burns did, there remained the constant pulse, an omnipresent frenzy. Off the floor, a lot of the music would’ve upturned noses, but, in the Abstract Message’s hands, the music motivated. People lost their anxiety within the creases of sublime bass lines. And, when the locomotion seemed in full steam, Q-Burns was done. A set all too short. But, it was something special — short and sweet. A perfect festival for the holiday season.