A New Nightlife Collective
An easily crowded hole-in-the-wall amidst countless other taverns and sports bars surrounding the Rutgers campus, most know the Court Tavern as one of New Jersey’s remaining steady rock venues. Walking to the back and paying the devil near the stairs his due in trade for a hand stamp and entrance into the basement is almost a rite of passage for some 21+ scene-goers. But walking in last Friday, no cover charge was necessary as the show (well…one of them) was upstairs—the pool table had been moved to open up a dance floor, and BreakNeck was dropping crunchy samples and seamless loops.
Wait, what? This was disjointed: seeing a DJ at the Court Tavern is about as comfortable as seeing Ninety-Six at Bliss. Sponsored by The Fresh Clothing (where isn’t The Fresh Clothing these days?) and Listen3D, this odd occurrence was the 44 Caliber Recordings launch event. At first impression, the launch failed to really start; there was minimal interaction with the crowd from the DJ, and no clear banner or distinct signage for 44 Caliber Recordings. Everything just kind of started abruptly and gave little indication that the event was worthy of any hype. I was underwhelmed.
However, my experience here is a bit undercooked, having left in middle of the second DJ’s set as the bar began to slowly lose comfortable standing room, and I grew tired of dodging beer pitchers swinging around me. Let’s set aside face-value impressions and consider the show to be clearly uncomfortable in the beginning for both the crowd and the DJ. He would have been remiss to try and hype a crowd that preceded his set, awkwardly pushing people to care about anything beyond their rum and cokes. In truth, starting his set without announcement created the right environment for the rest of the night to build—a solid foundation of sound.
Realistically, the best part of the event was probably everything I walked out on, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the party only got better. 44 Caliber Recordings isn’t composed of a couple guys who want to give DJing a try, but established performers from all over the state. DJ Alex Plus is the Loop Lounge’s Thursday night resident DJ (and one of the performers scheduled for the defunct Freak Show 3.0), and I’MD.B. (44 Caliber Recordings’ co-owner, Danny Ramos) is now in residence at Molly McGuire’s in Clark. The other two DJs, BreakNeck and RPM, have also established themselves on Soundcloud and have worked with other local artists. Collectively, this group is musically boundless, with influences ranging from hip-hop to trip-hop, electro, hardcore, progressive house, trance, and even metal. Given their intention of building a strong DIY ethic in the EDM community and giving upcoming artists a platform to showcase themselves, I would be hard-pressed to believe this talented company could be anything less than successful in their mission.
Though I may have missed the highlight of 44 Caliber’s night, the event alone is not everything the group has offered up. Just prior to the Court Tavern event, the official 44 Caliber Recordings website launched on Thanksgiving weekend, streaming their “Free-P Vol. 1,” also available for download on Bandcamp. Track two, titled “Dire Dire Docks,” is a dubbed-out version of the soundtrack from the level in Super Mario 64 bearing the same name. (Only an Ocarina of Time remix could pull harder on the heartstrings of my inner 13-year-old.) They do a good job of keeping updated and connected with everyone through the website, too—all of the DJs have started to post on the blog and tweet regularly, and their events calendar is simple and easy to read.
Clearly everything is in place for 44 Caliber Recordings, and I missed the better half of a great first step.