Bubbling under

DJ ?uestlove; plus Dan Alcala on the grind, and DJ Nomadik
By DAVID DAY  |  August 8, 2006

Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson
Ahmir Khalib Thompson, ?UESTLOVE to his fans, is one of the most accomplished drummers in pop music – and, as the beat machine behind the Roots, he might be the only live-hip-hop drummer who matters – but he’s also a deft DJ with a selection that will take your breath away. In Miami, I was able to pick up some of his mixes in directly from the man himself, and they’re all syrupy vocals, gushy beats, and Prince, Prince, Prince. He has two official mix CDs out on the wonderful BBE label, both entitled Babies Making Babies. The local promoters at FUTURE CLASSIC have snagged the Roots percussionist and mix-CD master to play an exclusive event at Underbar on August 8, the night after the Roots play the Roxy. If you do head down to Tremont Street Tuesday, bring a clean towel, and a few extra bucks to pick up his CDRs. The DJ set is all Thompson, all night, and starts at 10. Reduced admission is available by registering at FutureClassic.net.

For every DJ who’s spinning every night in town, there are hundreds of DJs on the grind, looking to play. From the streets of Dorchester to the Comm Ave. dorms, it’s hard to overstate the amount of new talent bubbling up. For example, take DAN ALCALA. Once we saw his set lists on-line (the Knife, Ewan Pearson, MFA, Superpitcher), we knew he had good taste, but he’d also played relatively few gigs. “I actually live in Melrose now,” he laughs. “I used to live in Mission Hill, but now that graduation and school is over I need to get a job.” Alcala won the Satellite Records mix competition in 2004 and again in 2005, and got a chance to open for Eli Wilkie at Avalon. “That was a huge deal ’cause I don’t know how else I would get to play at Avalon,” he laughs again. Despite this success, he has seen relatively few gigs elsewhere. “At this point, there’s so much politics behind everything it’s hard to emerge through the whole ranks, you know?”

Alcala plays a smart blend of techno and trance, with some vocals thrown in. His setlists aren’t exactly the kind that get you noticed in Boston. Most scenes in the Hub are highly genre-fied, and Alcala’s commitment to a more pop-oriented sound keeps him from playing, say, a straight house night. “I’m all over the board,” he admits. “It’s a mix of progressive, electro, a little bit of techno and trance.” For now, you can catch Alcala on MySpace, where you can glimpse his own productions; he also plays the occasional Rise gig, guests on WMFO, and, of course, keeps that bedroom in Melrose spinning.

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Related: The Roots | Rising Down, The making of the Roots-versus-Antibalas Sound Clash, Keepin' it real, More more >
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