GROWL, STRUT, ROLL AND RUB : SANTE’ @ ARC NIGHT-CLUB 08.31.13

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Sante’ — no real name given in his bio — had played Boston but once before last night’s two-hour set dropped by him on about 150 fans at Arc Night-Club. It’s likely, however, given the lascivious power of his music at Arc, that he won’t have to wait two years for a next visit.

Sante’ is no grizzled veteran of house music — he’s made his bones only in the past six years, based in Berlin, Germany — but he plays like one. The shape of hil set harked back to that of jazz bands back when jazz was dance music played live. Like those bands — Count Basie especially, and his legion of imitators — Sante’ laid down a deep, knees to the floor bass line, extended it, mercilessly until everyone surrendered to it, then complicated it with voice tools, a familiar tune or two, breaks and repeats. Always revisiting the basic groove so that his dancers wouldn’t lose their hold, Sante’ played Noir and Haze’s stomp-and-white-boy “Around,” and — much more usefully — several of his own, girl-and-guy hits — “Bad decision,” “411,” “Make Me,” and “Do You wanna 808” featured prominently — back and forth.

Using two CD players and two mixers, with no pc program, was enough for Sante’ to make his point. He played “for the love of house, for the love of beats, for the love of dance” — quoted the lines — in full sentimental cry. You could almost feel his texture, smell his fruit, rub thigh against the music and be groped by it in return. His bottom was low-note and big-bodied. his middle register varied from percussion to tweetie noises to growly voices — and combinations thereof. His upper octaves pouted and cooed, cried, screamed. Trippy effects and spacey atmospherics put everything, the low notes included, into a kind of perfumed fuzz box. this was music to grind to. Music to run up against, to make oneself horny with. And on and on it went, no stopping, a slow (120 bpm) grumble, sweaty, sleezy.

Sante’ danced as he mixed, as well he might. The great jazz bands’ horn sections danced, too, as they swayed, shuffled, swung. All of that could be felt in Sante’s set too — though, of course, re-phrased for today’s tastes by those fat big boom machines that sneeze the music onto you. But jazz trumpets and trombones had their mutes, to be inserted, or not, or stuttered into, out of, into the horn bell. Consider Sante’s paunchy speakers his DJ mutes. Because, again like a jazz band, Sante’ took his groove and complications well beyond standard progressions into a bewilderment of improvisation, a sandstorm of talk — bits of guy voice here, peeps of girl talk there — that kept on swerving into Sante’s groove line and out again. This was particularly the case with “Do You wanna 808,” his number one Beatport download, a track in which he over-tops frequent mix mate Ramon Tapia’s “Beats Knockin'” with girlies and guys, trippy breezes, glimmer, and melodic drollery. At Arc, he played it as seduction for seduction’s sake — an undertow into which every noise Sante’ could dream up got pulled. The dancers too. They loved all of it.

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At its most persuasive, Sante’s sound loomed translucent. It felt blue and looked blue. There was less magic to his pause breaks or to his breaks — twisting and squeezing the sound. A break making genius he is not. Still, there was always enough groove at hand to turn a dancer’s head and bring his or her body back to some of the strongest growl, grumble, roll, and rub that this writer has ever heard a young-generation house music DJ deliver.

Peru’s Ki Ke Mayor opened very much in Sante’ style : a two-hour set of growl anf grumble. There wa less roll and not much rub in Mayor’s blues beat, but that was to be expected. The opening DJ only teases the fans. Mayor teased most effectively.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Feelin’ the Music

MEEK AT THE MOVIES : SHORT TERM 12 ( 3 stars )

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^ Brie Larson as Grace, in Destin Cretton’s “Short Term 12”

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Not so long ago, for about two or three years, I taught creative writing to girls and young women who were wards of the state at the Germaine Lawrence School in Arlington, MA. These women had lived hard lives, drug addiction, rape, multiple pregnancies by the age of sixteen and abuse. A friend of mine who worked at the school and knew that I wrote, had grants and was looking for artists to help the girls shape their stories and find their inner voice. I was apprehensive at first, but agreed to do so and found it one of the most rewarding, eye-opening experiences of my life. I’m certain the girls did more for me than I did for them, but there would be times when a girl would not show up for class, and when I would ask why, I was routinely told it was because they had gone ‘on the run’ and was likely using or worse. There were also times when one would have a fit during our sessions and need to be restrained by the ready staff members in the room. It was violent and shocking to me, but overall, these women were raw, sweet and tough yet highly vulnerable. Fragile fierceness is what I called it.

I tell you all this because, in watching Destin Cretton’s consuming “Short Term 12,” a character study about the youth in a temporary home for troubled teens and the adults who run it, I kept having flash-backs to my time at Germiane Lawrence—deeply emotional, affecting ones. Cretton, who’s a young and promising director, actually worked in such a home; he gets the experience down right, and viscerally too, even if you were never aware such places existed or what they are like.

The sweet barb to the film is that two of the young adults who work at the facility (Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr.) used to be in such a home themselves. The pair, Mason and Grace, are also in an uneasy relationship; yet on the job, they’re composed and in charge. So much so, that it seems as if much, after being in such a home, must have changed and gone right for them. Then, soon enough, we get glimpses into their not-too-distant pasts–mostly Grace’s–and the reality is not very pretty.

Not only do they have their own demons to contend with, but those of the kids; and they possess insight beyond any graduate degree hanging on a wall. In one telling scene Grace tells the resident therapist that one girl is being/has been abused by her father, because ‘she knows.’ Going by the book the therapist disregards what he considers conjecture and the ramifications are profound.

Much of the film grows like that — small moments laced with tension and consequence. Larson brings a gritty intensity to Grace; we see her full-bodied and real. She’s a survivor and a care giver. Both she and Mason do their jobs clinically, but underneath it all you can feel their emotional turmoil raging. That’s not to say the movie is a downer. There are many small quiet victories, but nothing overwrought, and it’s intriguing to watch how the adolescents at the home play off each other. As for the care givers, for you as viewer the film becomes more than just a job. You start to care for these kids, root for them, hope for a better day for them.

It’s a spellbinding realism that Cretton tapped into. I can’t imagine there’s a human being out there that can’t be moved in some way by “Short Term 12.” If enough people get out and see it, the film, even Cretton and Larson, may be hearing their names called in January.

—- Tom Meek / Here and Sphere