Mix Master Mike, apple whiskey and a party under the bridge

“’Tis the night — the night of the grave’s delight, and the warlocks are at their play; ye think that without the wild winds shout, but no, it is they — it is they,” said 19th century poet A. Cleveland Coxe on the topic of All Hallow’s Eve. Over 170 years later, Halloween was celebrated amidst an eerie drizzle; a tolerably cool and misty evening in Louisville, Kentucky, where white girls in baby deer costumes ran rampant (did I miss the memo?) and bourbon flowed like the mighty Ohio. For my friends, Erin and Seth, and me, the warlocks and wild winds shouting were translated into a steady stream of bass we felt creeping through our bones from the patio of a Main Street pub. “Where is that music coming from?” asked Seth. We didn’t wait long to find out and began our buzzed trek towards the Second Street Bridge, transfixed by electronic music and a screaming crowd. Our Halloween musical trance led us to Hellhouse 2015, where no other than Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys was gearing up to perform.  

Upon arrival, we discovered Hellhouse 2015 was actually a consumer launch party for Jim Beam Apple Whiskey and also a fundraiser for the National MS Society, Kentucky and Indiana Chapter — which is why we swallowed our shock and awe and paid the steep $30 cover, as the door attendants told us, “It’s for charity!” They adorned us with the appropriate stamps and wristbands (I had to remove one of my yellow Power Ranger wrist guards) and we beelined for the drink tent.  

As a self-proclaimed bourbon purist, I tend to turn my nose up at flavored bourbons and whiskeys, because, as bourbon expert Fred Minnick once told me, “They’re bastardizing the industry.” So I was grateful Hellhouse 2015 offered a small selection of Beam products beyond their new apple venture. To Seth’s dismay, they did not offer any vodka or Red Bull, but the satellite bartender suggested the Jim Beam Jacob’s Ghost, a smooth white whiskey that can be enjoyed like a clear spirit. Whatever, girl, I’m drunk and in a Power Ranger costume, just give it to me. It wasn’t half bad. 

Truly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Mix Master Mike. While I adore nothing more than a great dance party and will all but take every opportunity to shake my ass, I’m not particularly well-versed in the realm of electronic music. Mix Master Mike is clearly a prolific force in turntablism. Apparently, he has been accredited with inventing the “Tweak Scratch,” creating a new sound (slowly dropping in pitch) for electronica, not to mention his work with arguably one of the most long-lived and successful rap groups of all time, Beastie Boys. Pride for my city began creeping within me as this notable DJ performed for a crowd that seemed to fall somewhere between intimate and well-attended; we all huddled towards the stage under the Second Street Bridge both to grind on one another and take shelter from the showers. 

Somehow, my friends and I made it up to the front row and I found myself twerking over a railing halfway through the set. I think it had something to do with the fake ninja swords strapped to my back and the incandescent nostalgia of ’90s music permeating the air. This Halloween felt good. Seth said it was like the soundtrack to his life, all of his firsts, “Throwback to my first eighth grade dance, my first concert, my prom and the music playing in the car as we snuck out to drink, my first college make out, sheesh.” He continued on (a bit of a flair for the dramatics, this one), “I then remembered my first club experience at Panama City spring break, my first trip to Vegas and a $17 vodka tonic, he took me on a tour. A tour of dance. A tour of life.” I had to agree. 

There’s undoubtedly something special about progressive, electronic music that continually evolves while saluting the decades before. Add in a Louisville landmark location and the all out spontaneity of stumbling upon a gem of a party on Halloween night — Louisville, you’ve stolen my heart again, giving me all the feels in my Power Ranger costume, “Go, go yellow ranger go — it’s morphin’ time.”