A (less than) family affair at Smith & Edge
By: Katei Cranford
The Less Than Family Affair, a chill beats art party featuring DJs, producers, and visual artists from <Family (Less Than Family) will go down on Feb. 1 at Smith & Edge in Greensboro.
“We’re a very tight-knit squad,” said Mason Rock, “cult leader” of the North Carolina electronic label and artist collective, who will perform under his moniker, Mister.
Scheduled performer and labelmate, Saef Sees, describes <Family as a “stir fry.” “We’re all a little different, and on our own we’re fine, but you put all of us in a room, shake things up a little, and the result is really something,” he said. “We couldn’t do that without a familial bond and unconditional love. It’s a <Family affair because we’re inviting you into ours—even if it’s just for the night.”
Joining them on the audio-end of the bill will be GoodNite and SIIDS.
“Our key ideal is integrity,” noted Dylan Evans (aka Lavier and one-half of scheduled producer duo, Boy Legs), who also co-heads the <Family label. “We push the DIY mentality in electronic and hip-hop to show that you don’t need a huge budget behind you to be authentic,” he added.
The group ranges in artistic activity beyond the audio and boasts a roster of visual artists primarily based out of Greensboro. Kelsi Chloe, Creed Mullins and David Deaton round out the visual components. <Family musicians stretch from D.C. through Virginia and around North Carolina.
“Electronic and hip-hop are definitely two of our main focuses, but that’s just what we’re working with at the moment,” Evans said.
Boy Legs’ Jib Butts, a world-traveler who only recently returned to the States, reinforced the absence of DIY approaches in the electronic music industry. “I’ve been around Thailand, Japan, and Mexico over the last year, and it isn’t exactly common,” he said.
“We’ve established a really awesome, supportive, and growing community,” Evans noted of strengths he sees in North Carolina music. “The ways both fans and artists intermix creates, like, a big support group based around our shared interests—where we all motivate and encourage each other. The sense of community is really awesome. We’re lucky to be a part.”
“Greensboro has always been an awesome place for us to operate,” Evans said of the Triad specifically. “We have a strong group of folks here who really care about what we’re doing, and it never goes unfelt.”
Caleb Alexander, aka GoodNite (the labelmate “everyone is mad at because he doesn’t put anything out,”) agreed. “Everyone there is dope,” he insisted.
Evans’ enthusiasm extends to the possibilities 2019 brings. “We made a lot of great relationships last year, and it’s been awesome to see them blossom, so I’m excited to do more of that,” he noted of the show which will serve as a tour kick-off for a few of the artists.
The fruits of those relationships came in handy recently, when the group found itself need of a new venue last minute. The sudden closure of the original venue, Geeksboro Battle Pub, left <Family in a tight spot. But fellow Greensboro electronic party makers, Strictly Social, helped arrange the switch to Smith & Edge.
“Geeksboro was one of my favorite spots in town,” Rock said, “and we wish Joe nothing but the best. But big thanks goes to the Strictly Social crew for helping us secure a new venue.”
The multimedia “chill beat” show will still go on, complete with visual arts and graphics vendors.
“Kelsi has been working so hard for so long, and it genuinely shows,” Butts said about Kelsi Chloe, the lead visual creative in the family, who’ll be vending art and merchandise. “We couldn’t be more proud to have her in the group,” he insisted.
For Chloe, “being able to visually interpret the music made by my friends is so much fun. I truly feel like everyone putting their heads together is not only encouraging, but it helps you grow and want to make your homies as proud of you as you are of them.”
Butts echoed her enthusiasm, “playing in Greensboro is always so much fun,” he said. “For whatever reason Greensboro shows always have a certain glow for us.”
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands touring through the following week, 5-7p.m. on WUAG 103.1FM.
The Less Than Family Affair goes down on Feb. 1 at Smith & Edge (422 N Edgeworth St) in Greensboro. Get to it and get lit.