There are some DJs and mix duos who trick up their house music as gussied as a drag queen. Others bend the genre out of shape, or clink it to other genres, or paint it with melody, all in search of a signature sound that, far too often, sounds more simpering than signifying. Then there are the DJs who strip house music down to its basics, simplify it, clip it to one tone, one stride, one vision in search of a connection instinctive as a nerve ending. Prok & Fitch proved at 360 in Providence to be of the latter sort and masterfully so. They didn’t beat around the bush, wander off, get all persnickety. From the beginning of their set at about 12:15 A.M. until well on toward 2:00 AM, they dropped a stride and strut, a push and push, a scoop and stomp : all of them low and grumbly and of a texture thick enough — without feeling like a cake mix.

360, by the way, is a new dance-music arena and a good one. Dark and spacious with a DJ booth as open to the fans as a handshake and a hug. It’s no frills, just the space and some lighting — an ideal match for the basic blues sound that was dropped upon it at this performance.

The two DJs began with a chant of “you don’t stop, no you don’t stop” — from their “After the World” track — and so it went for the many — but not quite enough — fans who danced into second wind and beyond. Using four CD players and mixing in teamwork — few solos by either man — the Londoners blended and cut, clippd the reperat bitton, squeezed the tone knob, and quick-cut the beat parade. Occasionally they flubbed a mix (I noticed one quite sloppy segue at 1:15 A.M.); but they made good the mistake so quickly that few minded. That’s one of the advantages of playing house music in basic mode: the mix flaws heal rapidly. It was that way with 1950s Chicago blues. In that most dependable of rigidly restricted, scream and ramble-effect genres, you knew what was coming, and when, and almost how’; and if a bass line went south, the guitar was there to kick it north again, and you liked the effect; it lent salt to the music ‘s pepper, spit to its shine.

Prok & Fitch have made so many tracks so similar — yet so grabbing — that they were able to salt their own pepper almost the entire night. One heard, I think, segments of their two Todd terry remixes (“Can You feel It’ and “Something Going On”), their collaboration with Roger Sanchez (“Take You There”), two collaborations with the UK’s Filthy Rich (“Time To Jam” and “Justified”), and many others of their prolific oeuvre. It was a spirit-chaser night of — so to speak — stride strut, leg lug, hip flip and brain sprain, without digression. Pause breaks were few; streakies, none. They poked the mix board all set long, but only to guide the music, not bust it open. As basic as a Bo Diddley jam, as sure as a Littler Walter, as double-played as a Howlin’ Wolf, they played house music pure and sure, and found within the genre itself all the drive and soul that lies within it, ready to pounce. Laying down the law of house. It was a set not to be missed.

Local DJ Marcus Christian, whom i had never heard play at length, opened with a set as basic and bluesy as Prok & Fitch’s. He perhaps mixed his sound with a bit more bending than they did; but the textures thus toyed with at low frequency led direcyly gto the bass and blaster work of the main men. Very well done.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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