Boiler Room New Orleans – A Promising Start (Hint: We Want More!!)

Members of the River Beats team attended the first-ever edition of Boiler Room in New Orleans. For a city with such a rich music culture, widespread consensus held that this stop was long overdue. As if to compensate, Boiler Room turned this event into a 3-night feature, each night showcasing a different aspect of New Orleans music.

DJ Soul Sister took over Night 1 with funk, soul, and disco vinyls

Night 1 featured jazz music, with the Preservation Hall Band headlining the event. Of note, DJ Soul Sister started off the night by mixing disco, funk, and soul in a masterful display of vinyl DJing. Night 2 showcased bounce, New Orleans’s very own brand of hip-hop and dance music.

Night 3 brought on a more modern take, with a lineup of New Orleans DJs and some genre-bending hip-hop/dance music acts. It was also the night that generated by far the most buzz and the highest attendance.

Below is a firsthand account of Night 3 from a River Beats staff writer’s perspective, and some additional opinions on all three nights.

Night 3 – Future Sound of NOLA Curated by Viberian Experience

Lineup: Jnerio Jarel and Friends, Microclimate, Bouffant Bouffant, AF the Naysayer, DJ Otto, Harbinger Project, Adambomb, DJ K-Nice

You can watch Night 3 in its entirety HERE! 

To be completely frank, I started off with mixed feelings about this production.

On the positive side, the set lengths were just right, as the stacked lineup gave each artist 30-40 minutes of playing time. Normally, this rapid turnover is detrimental to DJ performances, but in this instance it allowed them to play one upbeat track after the other. Overall, the relatively short set times kept the crowd energy at a consistently high level.

I greatly appreciated that the curators made an effort to put the spotlight on artists beyond the “usual suspects” of the New Orleans dance music scene. For example, DJ K-Nice was a highly underrated choice as the opener and track selector for the interludes between sets. He deserves a lot of the credit for maintaining the crowd’s engagement throughout the night.

Unfortunately, a few performances felt underwhelming. I’m hesitant to call specific names out, because not everyone can put on their best every time. Instead, I will gladly give these artists the benefit of the doubt.

In terms of mixing, I noticed a DJ who seemed to ignore the crossfader to the extent that the transitions between tracks were quite jarring. It may seem like a pretentious and nitpicky detail to harp on, but inadequate transitions often deflate the crowd’s energy, leaving them standing instead of dancing.

Another criticism involves two very interrelated concepts – track selection and crowd engagement. Granted, DJs should have leeway to act as tastemakers and not feel obligated to pander to the crowd. But it’s a balancing act. The DJ should have an intuition for what the crowd would enjoy, especially for sets that are as short as 30-40 minutes.

Criticisms aside, some of the artists are truly deserving of the spotlight. Below are my picks for the top 3 performances of Night 3.

3. AF the Naysayer

AF the Naysayer  took the floor with minimal equipment, and managed to pull off the impressive feat of incorporating effects and transitions without the aid of CDJs. That in itself is worthy of praise.

Even more impressive was the fact that he played all original music composed by himself. AF the Naysayer‘s atmospheric, globally influenced hip-hip served as a preview for his upcoming BUKU Music + Arts Project performance, a billing he certainly earned.

2. DJ Otto

From the moment DJ Otto stepped up to the decks, he sent the crowd into a fever pitch. The Techno Club resident spun tracks that encompassed many regions and subgenres of dance music.

At this point in the night, not a single person in the room was standing still. DJ Otto’s set was Exhibit A of how experienced DJs can take audience members out of their musical comfort zone yet compel them to dance.

DJ Otto turned the Boiler Room broadcast into a sweaty dance party. Image courtesy of Tristan Dufrene.

…which now brings me to the closing act and favorite set of the night.

1. Bouffant Bouffant

The secret is out. Bouffant Bouffant is not only a rising star, but is already coming into his own as one of the top house DJs in New Orleans.

Before you consider this a byproduct of my high from his amazing Boiler Room set, take note of what makes him an excellent DJ. His track selection, mixing skill, and ability to read the crowd combine to make him a force of groove to be reckoned with. So much so, that the Boiler Room hosts rightfully extended his set by well over an hour.

But don’t take my word for it; see for yourself. His set begins at [3:36:00] in the video embedded above. Opening with Todd Terje’s “Delorean Dynamite” (accompanied by some very audible cheers from the crowd), Bouffant Bouffant took the entire room to unprecedented heights and kept it there.

Stay tuned for our in-depth profile and exclusive interview with Bouffant Bouffant.

Overall Impressions

What’s with people standing up front and not dancing?

Just a general PSA to attendees of shows: if you’re at the front and you’re not dancing, you shouldn’t be up front. For each show, I saw stragglers jockeying their way up to the front few rows and just stand there.

I get it; you want to see the DJ and/or you want some camera time. But at least pretend like you’re enjoying yourself.

Boiler Room should stick to dance music.

New Orleans is a city where jazz, rock, and blues reign supreme. These genres dominate media exposure to the point that coverage is hyper-saturated. Broadcasting platforms shouldn’t feel obliged to add to the hyper-saturation just because it’s New Orleans.

New Orleans, I’m so proud of you.

As an avid people watcher, I’ve seen my fair share of Boiler Room and Mixmag sets. For the most part, attendees tend to stand still even when the music compels people to move.

Not the case here. Way to step up and show how New Orleans gets down.

The first-ever iteration of Boiler Room in New Orleans was a promising start.

In some aspects, however, it seemed hastily put together. We would love for Boiler Room to return soon and feature more artists, this time with more community involvement in the curation process.

Note: The opinions and statements expressed in this review do not necessarily reflect those of the River Beats organization or its staff members.

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