For months I’ve been hearing all sorts of shit about this so-called “Witch Haus” stuff, which appears to be chillwave’s evil twin pseudo-genre. So, this past weekend I decided to get my ass down to the Elbo Room to see for myself what the fuss was all about.
First impression: vibe is quite similar to that of the Goth clubs I went to several times while living in Orlando – neon laser lights cutting through fog so dense it must have required multiple machines to produce.
DJ: accordingly, skinny white dude dressed all in black with half of his head shaved and the rest of his hair combed over to one side.
Music: Swishahouse–style hip-hop screwed-down so much it would have made Michael Watts fall asleep on his turntables… wait what?
And it just got weirder from there. The patrons, a WTF amalgam of hipsters, Goths and typical hip-hop club-goers, were, really eff-d up, on something that wasn’t just alcohol (ketamine maybe? Robotussin?).
GuMMyBeAR from Oakland laid down a mix of music that would have seemed impossible not that long ago: dark ‘80s glam synth pop into noise, into Dubstep and hardcore crunk .
oOoOO, a 6 ft+ drag queen, is San Francisco’s chief purveyor of this stuff, garnering far and away more Internet hype points than any other local act associated with the “genre.” His music is all of those things GuMMyBeAR was playing mashed up together and doused with cough syrup.
Teams from Baltimore, another skinny tall dude (although not in drag) played a mix of gloomy glitch and crooked bass-heavy techno, singing over it at several points. (I took some video of him bouncing around wailing, but unfortunately it’s unwatchable.)
The whole experience was perfectly encapsulated by this intoxicated couple attempting to do that bumpy/grindy dance that couples do in “the club” but failing – badly – to keep the rhythm. At one point I made eye contact with both of them. Inebriated though they clearly were, there was something more. Their faces bore perplexed looks that suggested they were unsure not just of what they were doing, but of where they were and why they were even there.
I came away from the night comparatively disoriented. Although I definitely have an appreciation for oOoOO’s music, as well as that of BALAM ACAB who’s EP See Birds is off the hook!
*Also while I’m at it, I guess Salem deserves mentioning as they are the granddaddy of all of this hype. Their album King Night – which is full of The Cure-esque synthesizers, gothic choral samples and sluggish beats characterized by crunk hip hop-style 808 snare-rolls and dubstep’s rhythmic accent on the 3rd and 7th counts – sounds like Cevin Key, Slim Thug and Skream made a record, and then DJ Screw remixed it.