Stones Throw Records Documentary Premiere Party
Better than: the NBA finals.
Founded in 1996 by DJ/producer Peanut Butter Wolf (Chris Manak) three years after the death of his best friend Charizma, Stones Throw Records has become one of the most successful and respected independent record labels in L.A. and around the world. Last night was the much-deserved celebration of everything they've accomplished.
Held at downtown's Exchange LA, the sold out show was billed as the prelude to the premiere of the Jeff Broadway directed documentary Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton (This Is Stones Throw Records). The documentary chronicles the label's history using rare archival performance footage and interviews with current/former Stones Throw artists. It will be playing tonight and Saturday afternoon at L.A. Live as part of the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival.
The main room on the bottom floor of the opulent and dimly lit venue housed both Stones Throw acts as well as some from other L.A. labels/collectives. There were a lot of good performances, especially those from Leaving Records heavyweights Matthewdavid and Ras G. The latter delivered what amounted to an interstellar audio assault, the heavy spaced out bass of his set near face melting.
Walking upstairs, attendees were greeted by a projected Stones Throw logo spinning like a record on the wall. At the merch table next to the bar (where drinks were expensive), and just outside the main concert area, you got a sense how true to its roots Stones Throw remains seventeen years after its inception. Sure, there were CDs and limited edition skate decks for sale. But there were also stacks of vinyl and piles of cassettes. Single and even some double). It was refreshing.
All Stones Throw acts happened upstairs in a huge (and thankfully air-conditioned) performance area. Lights and smoke machines were abundant, and when things got especially funky the Disco ball was turned on.
Until you experience what essentially amounts to a small portion of Stones Throw's roster all at once, it's difficult to truly appreciate the sheer scope of the label's output. There was everything from Soul/R&B (Myron & E) to Reggae/Dub (The Lions), and Hip-Hop (Jonwayne, Egyptian Lover) to DJ sets using only 45s (7-inch records played at 45 rpm).
Today, when countless DJs lean on computers to do the work, the skill displayed during the back and forth 45 sets was moving in every sense of the word. These sets, however, did less to display the history of the label's music as much they did the history of some of the music that led to the label's creation.
While he's not on Stones Throw, Low End Theory resident DJ Gaslamp Killer might've had the best 45 set. "Some of this shit is not going to make sense, but I'm going to do it anyway," he said before moving from records like The Charmels' "As Long as I've Got You"-- sampled on Wu-Tang Clan's "Cream"--to something absolutely infectious from Istanbul, Turkey that used instruments we couldn't begin to identify.
Myron & E and The Lions both sounded fantastic and displayed great stage presence, but it was rapper/producer Jonwayne that really got the crowd going. Looking like Jesus, Buddha, and The Dude rolled into one, and wearing a pair of basketball shorts and Teva sandals, the "Wayniac" boomed bar after bar as if prophesizing the second coming. He rapped a capella while setting up his equipment, DJed for himself, and at one point walked the entire floor, leaving awe-struck concert goers in his wake and never missing a word. If you don't know about Jonwayne yet, his live sets will make you a devotee.
The show closed with performances by Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib. Wolf's video DJ set began with old interview footage of him and Charizma. It was both poignant and fitting, as all the songs Wolf selected seemed to catalogue the label's entire history.
The crowd dwindled towards the end (after two a.m.), but many stayed for Madlib, who played mostly Stones Throw tracks, both his own and others. The best moment of the night, and perhaps the most telling about the label and its founder, was when Wolf got on the mic and shouted, "Make noise if you're open-minded." The crowd screamed and he smiled like a man who knows he's got at least another seventeen great years ahead of him.
For those who didn't attend, the Stones Throw Soul Tour kicks off August 16 in Pomona and will hit eight spots in the western U.S. thereafter.
Personal Bias: I own a significant number of Stones Throw releases.
The Crowd: Every race, creed, color, and gender of Stones Throw diehards.
Random Notebook Dump: Security was very tight, but several people managed to sneak in G-Pens and other smoking devices anyway.
See setlists below
Hosted by Shakespeare
9:30-10:30 - Stones Throw DJs
10:30-10:50 - Myron & E
10:50-11:20 - The Lions
11:20-11:40 - Jonwayne
11:40-12:45 - 45 Live: Peanut Butter Wolf, J Rocc, Dam-Funk, Gaslamp Killer
12:45-1:15 - Egyptian Lover
1:15-1:40 - Peanut Butter Wolf video DJ Set
1:40-Close - Madlib
9-10:30 - Dub Club Sound System (w/ DJ Tom Chasteen & guests)
10:30-11:15 - Leaving Records (w/ Matthewdavid, Ras G, and Knx)
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11:15-11:45 - Vex Ruffin
11:45-12:05 - Diva
12:05-1:00 - Duppy Gun Session (w/ Sun Araw, DJ Slayron (Peaking Lights), Alex Gray)
1:00-1:30 - Doobie Sisters