Hearing that I was to review The Hood Internet at Beauty Ballroom on June 22 felt really damn good, for two reasons. One, The Hood Internet was one of those South by Southwest shows that I missed seeing so many times, over more than one year, that it became almost mythical. Tromping across town in (depending on the year) blistering heat and a wind/rain/cold combo trying to get my ass to the show and never making it means just seeing these guys on a stage was gonna be a minor victory.
And two, I have one of my strongest music-to-memory connections with The Hood Internet and a three-day boozy adventure around New Orleans, involving infinite beers, both the best and worst damn sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, a graveyard with live calliope music we could never find the source of and The Hood’s “Trey-Dio Departmentz” mashup providing a theme for all the weirdness and debauchery. After having “Since we in the club for now/Might as well get another round” become a long-weekend motto, I knew that The Hood Internet was more than capable of sound-tracking a party, and they did not disappoint.
The night started off appropriately with a pair of indie bands opening for the mashup masters, who often use instrumentals from indie tracks in their mixes. First opener, Lean Hounds, was a fun, airy-vocaled indie act with anthemic drums and an atmospheric synth backing, and they definitely gave the crowd their all. Their jangly guitars and impassioned vocals pair well with the thumping, always-onward sound of their drummer, and they had a feel a bit like a straight forward, less-produced, very Austin-style chillwave band. If you dig bands like Washed Out, you’ll probably find a lot to like in Lean Hounds.
Almost freakishly quick, second opener Tiger Waves jumped on stage once Lean Hounds was done, and the six-member group put out a set of harmonic-filled rock that made a lot of sense opening for The Hood Internet’s set of indie-laced mashups. I’d put money on these guys being huge fans of 2000s indie rock a la Broken Social Scene and Wilco, as I heard massive influence from that time period and even a little before it, with some riffs sounding even a little old school Weezer-ish. All in all, definitely a group that put out a nice set of indie-pop to set the stage for the headliners.
When it came to The Hood Internet, I did and did not get what I was expecting. What I did expect and received was a laptop-and-midi-controllers set that was seriously all over the place genre-wise, with especially strong veins of contemporary indie, hip-hop and ‘80s samples layered over each other, and a pair of producers that obviously loved the music they were playing. These guys mashed up a crazy variety of electronic genres, using the tempo of various beats (from slower hip hop, to house all the way to Moombahton and even a little breaks) in a very smart way to control the energy of the crowd. The duo looked like they were having a hell of a fun time playing, even seeming like they were messing with each other by putting on certain tracks they thought would make the other one laugh, which was fun to see.
What I didn’t get, at first, was the crowd that I thought would come out for their act. Before the show, I was wondering whether they would draw the indie scene (after all their press), the hip-hop scene, or both. Instead, I didn’t really see either. Oh, you certainly had a smattering of hipsters (I’m looking at you, guy with floral patterned skinny jeans) and a few hip-hop heads, but overall this crowd was something else, and it took me a while to get a bead on it. I had to step back to the back of the room and look over everything before I finally figured out: it was a club crowd. Like, a go out to the clubs on 5th/6th Street to dance and get laid kinda crowd, and the vibe on the floor was somewhere between that and a house party. And party they did, turning the Ballroom into what felt like a really well DJed ‘80s/’90s night at a downtown club.
While people were definitely throwing down to some of the wilder beats (the Moombah for instance), it was really the throwback vocals from ‘90s hip hop and ‘80s pop songs that the crowd was wilin’ out for, and The Hood Internet was more than happy to oblige. Some highlights include a “Billy Jean” and Ratatat mix, a synthy-dark Dizzee Rascal flow that transitioned to Whitney Houston, and part of Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U” over Radiohead, which sounded dangerously sick.
In all, The Hood Internet threw one hell of a party. It took me a while to realize that’s what was happening, but once I figured it out, it made perfect sense. The Hood Internet makes music to get happy to. They like to reference that old shit you love and mash it up with that new shit you love and make you dance, and they’re really fucking good at it. For those that want to party, do your feet a favor and hit The Hood Internet up next time they’re in town, and get ready to throw down hard with the reigning kings of the mashup.