The Great Mask of “Goo”: Halloween Preview

In September, Pitchfork published a lengthy feature story and rare interview with seminal DJ Aphex Twin. One piece of the article sticks out to the Omaha DJ Keith Rodger, aka Kethro.

Richard David James, the man behind Aphex Twin, tells Pitchfork he enjoys anonymous DJ gigs for the focus they put on music over celebrity.

To Rodger, Goo operates under the same ethos.

Goo is an ongoing Omaha dance party founded in 2007 by Todd Fink (The Faint, Depressed Buttons), Jacob Thiele (The Faint, Depressed Buttons) and Derek Pressnall (Tilly and the Wall, Icky Blossoms). Tomorrow night, Slowdown hosts the annual Halloween “Boo Goo.”

Tickets to Boo Goo are $5 in advance, $10 once the show begins. RSVP here. The party includes a costume contest with prizes from Film Streams.

Kethro, Fink, Thiele, DJ Nater and live projection manipulator Aaron Gum will all appear, as well as a surprise special guest. But if you’re showing up for anything other than the party — say, to see Todd Fink play on stage — you might be a little misguided.

“Goo is centered around having a dance party, instead of a performance,” Rodger says.

That’s what separates Goo, which recently returned from a brief hiatus in 2013, from a standard show: the de-emphasis on the person on stage. Instead, Rodger says, Goo prevails on the brand it’s built.

“People know what to expect: ‘I’m going to go here, I’m going hear dance music, I’m going to have fun no matter what,’” he says. “I know that every Halloween I’m going to be at Boo Goo and every New Year’s I’ll be at that Goo.”

That’s been the goal from the outset, through all the Goos, which includes Zombie Beach Party Goo, My Friend Goo (for Valentine’s Day), Happy Goo Year, Future Goo and Drag Goo.

“There have been some great performances at Goo, but we consider it a party,” Fink says. “I mean, it’s about the people at the party more than anything else.”

Fink says that in 2007 he had been searching for a place to throw a Goo-kind-of-party for a couple years. This was around the same time that Slowdown was searching for a location. And while not every Goo has been at Slowdown, it’s been a natural fit. Around that same time, and independent of Fink, Pressnall and Thiele also talked to The Slowdown about hosting a similar event.

The three, who already knew each other well, teamed up.

Fink recalls the first Goo, a soft-opening, after a Faint show. The Birth of Goo, the first official Goo, he says, followed shortly after. Har Mar Superstar performed almost nude after being “birthed” on stage.

“It’s really an anything-goes type of party,” Fink says.

Fink says he relishes the opportunity to play Goo because it offers him the chance to create a brash, engaging atmosphere for audiences. Costumes are never mandatory, but always encouraged.

Rodger recalls the Skrillex after-party at The Bourbon earlier this month. He played with Buckhunter. He says when Skrillex went on, about half the crowd stopped dancing to watch the DJ.

“Maybe they wanted to observe or maybe they were starstruck, but at the end of the day, DJs aren’t playing for you to watch them,” he says.

When he and DJ Really Real (Brian Crow of Mean Street) played their first Goo, Thiele was the only founding member also playing. Despite that, the crowd’s energy was the same as always. They were there to party with whomever.

Rodger says at last year’s Halloween Goo, he thought at least half the people in the crowd didn’t know it was Fink DJing, and even more apparently didn’t care.

“I was really happy about that,” he says.

The quais-anonymous format allows DJs to shirk expectations that might come packed with their own work. They play what they want, what they enjoy, what they listen to in their free time. It keeps the range of music at Goo large, innovative, fresh.

“People don’t know what they’re getting into except that it’s going to be a good time, as opposed to going to Todd Fink’s show or going to see Kethro,” Rodger says.