Jamie Jams knows a thing or two about 90s music. He's been DJing since 2000 (that was 12 years ago, folks) and he's one of the great minds behind Debaser, the 90s dance party that's been keeping The Knockout smelling like teen spirit for years. "When we first started playing 90s music in clubs, people thought we were crazy," says Jamie. "We basically started this experiment to see whether or not you could get people to dance to these rock songs."
It turns out, you could. After a slow start in 2006 ("It was pretty fun but people were still a little confused"), Debaser caught on in 2007. "We had no idea what would happen, but people reacted like they were at a rock show, moshing, crowd surfing, singing Smashing Pumpkins. Everyone would hug and sing along."
Jamie thinks there's a strong nostalgia element that gets people going, especially from a decade when most of us were listening to music in the basement of our parent's houses, not out at concerts. There's something intensely personal about songs you listened to in your teens after all, sometimes alone in your room and always associated with strong emotions (the first time I listened to Tribe Called Quest? Cried like a baby … maybe). Did you ever think you'd even hear those songs again, let alone at a party with all your friends? Therein lies the genius of Debaser.
They're on their fifth year of 90s dance parties, and Debaser has been combing the charts to bring you themed sounds from each year of the 90s. "We started in 1989 and now we're almost to 1995," says Jamie. "When we did 1989, it was The Sugarcubes, Nine Inch Nails, Public Enemy. The 1990 show was more shoegaze, baggy beat, 1992 was grunge, The Lemonheads, very much a My So-Called Life sound. 1993 was more alternative rock with a hint of brit pop and in 1994 hip-hop starts to break big." Debaser's next show, on September 8th, will be all things 1995. "It's going to be pretty brit pop. That was kind of the deal then." And look out for the rest of the 90s coming your way every second Saturday at the Knockout.
Can't wait that long? Debaser will be on hand at Friday's epic Scene Unseen show, which features other Bay Area music movers and shakers like DJ Dials, Marco de la Vega and Richie Panic.
But before we adjourn, Jamie has some SF scouting tips we can't help but pass along. Here's are Jamie's top 5 discoveries about his favorite spot in SF (nope, it's not a music venue. Guess again).
1. The Presidio Golf Course is completely affordable, (only $35 for SF residents).
2. The Legion of Honor was the terminus of first highway across the US, which ended in the roundabout right out front.
3. All these beautiful secluded beaches at Lands End. I've heard about people doing shows down there, and there are shipwrecks all along the coast if you go at low tide.
4. There are blackberries all over.
5. There's a full on camp ground in the Presidio called Rob Hill.
Thanks so much to Jamie for sharing his Scouting knowledge with us! Check out Debaser tonight at Scene Unseen or catch them at The Knockout every second Saturday.