I thought you weren’t going to do this!” Rob Alahn says to his longtime DJ partner, Doug Wilcox. “I changed my mind,” Wilcox responds with a grin. The two are geeking out over Wilcox’s latest acquisition, the Samsung Galaxy Fold, when Wilcox pulls out a new pair of earbuds. “We’re gadget freaks,” Wilcox says with a laugh. The two DJs’ love of tech and gadgetry runs deep, so you can only imagine how nerdy they get when they’re pining over the latest DJ equipment.
A connoisseur of gear and electronics, Alahn has owned Downtown’s
1 Stop DJ Shop for years, but it was a fated Wednesday night at Downtown Cocktail Room more than 12 years ago that brought him and Wilcox together.
Wilcox, an army veteran, started playing disco and garage in New Jersey in 1978, then continued DJing at clubs on base in Oklahoma during the ’80s. Alahn began honing his house chops in Chicago back in 1980. “We witnessed house music being born,” Wilcox says.
Collectively, their style is an homage to their respective cities, along with the variety of influences to which they’ve been exposed along the way. “You can hear R&B in our sets, you can hear disco in our sets, downtempo,” Alahn says. “We’re house heads for sure, but we’re passionate about good music.”
When Alahn heard Wilcox spinning inside the then-new Downtown Cocktail Room back in 2007, the DJ stars aligned. “It had a lot of substance,” Alahn recalls. “When I heard Doug play, I was like, ‘That’s home, I know that.’”
Wilcox invited Alan to guest DJ during one of his Wednesday night sets, and, “He never went away,” Wilcox laughs. “He was there next Wednesday.”
“Beauty Bar and Griffin and some of the other bars and clubs that were down there [at the time] kind of had a familiar thread running through them,” Alahn says. “But in terms of its brand, DCR is situated just the way it’s situated on that block—left of center.”
DCR’s eclectic, vibey sophistication fit Alahn and Wilcox’s style from the start. “The way the room is set up and [owner] Michael [Cornthwaite’s] attention to detail … it worked out tremendously for us.”
In those early years, Downtown was still a fledgling destination for indie seekers and underground music heads, and the guys admit there was a “lot of heavy lifting” to do in the beginning. “Downtown then wasn’t really a tourist destination; it wasn’t even a locals scene. An underground locals scene? Yeah. But mainstream locals? Nah,” Alahn says. “Our sound was born out of going to battle in that room.”
Their Wednesday-night residency became a staple in underground nightlife, and after nearly a decade of spinning midweek at DCR, the duo landed a Friday-night residency in 2017, bringing on live percussionist Cayce Andrew to give their Unfiltered Soul sets an extra edge.
Unfiltered Soul has continued to expand since, adding Japanese DJ and promoter NoriTraxx as an honorary member. The group has performed in Nagasaki, Fukuoka and Tokyo as a result of that connection.
It all stems from Wilcox and Alahn’s perseverance, taste and ability to set a groove, no matter where they are. “We keep it cocktail, we keep it sexy, but [we] continue to shift and expand the boundaries of that,” Alahn says. “We want to show people our love for this music.”
Unfiltered Soul Fridays, 10 p.m., free. Downtown Cocktail Room, 111 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-880-3696.