Jeff Bujak at Red Square with Mentally Ill and DJ Leila, October 19th

Review by Jenni Wilson

Red Square is one of my favorite smaller venues to see live music. The drinks are always strong, the bartenders are always friendly and the music is always amazing. This night was no different. Jon Santolla, aka Mentally Ill, started the night off strong with hard, dirty drum and bass with clean cuts. The bar began to fill up as the night progressed. The back room slowly began to fill up with 20 something’s getting down to Santolla’s beats. If you’re not up by the time Santolla’s set it over, check your pulse.

The moment Jeff Bujak came on, the vibe in the bar changed completely. The electricity he exudes while he slams on his keys changes the atmosphere the moment he takes stage. He often plays entire sets with his eyes closed, pouring every inch of energy into his love for his music. I have not gotten the chance to actually enjoy a full Bujak set since The Come Up Festival in June so it was nice to be able to get down to his pulsing beats. The thing I enjoy most about Jeff Bujak, besides his amazing light show, is that he does not fall into one specific genre of music. He combines the efforts of rock, electronic, club, funk, and hip hop into a medley of drum loops and keyboard grooves. Bujak’s personality exudes through all of the shows I’ve seen him play, and although this may have been my tenth or eleventh time seeing him live, his act still manages to impress me.

During Bujak’s setbreak, DJ Leila took the stage bringing more hard hitting beats that vibrated the dance floor. Mentally Ill and DJ Leila are two of my favorite DJs to see live because of their consistent energy. Their shows have a similar personality to Orchard Lounge, with both Leila and Jon trading off on the tables. While one is spinning, the other is close by waiting intently for their cue to step up to the tables. It is refreshing to see a DJ who does not just push play on a Mac computer and genuinely loves the art form of spinning for a crowd- no matter how big.

As Bujak returned for round two, the crowd was in store for another high energy performance. I watched from the leather couch as silhouettes recognized each other against a back drop of blinding lights. The best thing about Red Square is how personal every set feels, whether you are toe to toe with the stage or sitting comfortably in one of the couches against the back walls. Of course, I finally migrated to the front to replenish my drink and Bujak busts into an electric rendition of “Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys. I left my drink before it was even made to go to the back and watch the crowd pulse to the music.

By the end of the set my friends and I were all tired and a little tipsy, as we often are after a night at the Red Square, so we said our goodbyes and made our ways to the closest pizza place before going home. Once again, I am not surprised to say that I was very impressed with Jeff, Jon and Leila’s ability to put on an amazing show.

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