After a day of wrestling with Cubase I think I got a good mixdown of my new song Maximuminutae, a term I coined not long after arriving, while walking drunk with my cousin and his girlfriend. If you feel like listening lemme know whatcha think. It’s kind of different for me in a lot of ways. Similar in others. Happier somehow.
I don’t think I’ve seen a crowd as up for it on a Thursday since I was last in London @ Buramba. But that was drum ‘n bass and this is techno. I wandered in soon after 10 and the first song I heard was Theo Parish’s ‘I Can’t Take It’. This is a techno night if ever there was one and Mark Broom was playing Theo Parish! At any rate… that didn’t last long. Within 4 songs he was well into techno, but not long thereafter I heard two songs from Designer Music Volume 1 and Rob Hood’s ‘Detroit: One Circle’. By 11:00 the place was filling up and by 11:30 it was full. Mark Broom’s set was seriously top-notch. I didn’t disagree with a single song. Most of it took me by surprise. Towards the end he really cranked it up to lead into Carolla and played his latest track with that severe bass-driven beat and the ghostly whail. Not sure what it’s called, but it sounded SICK on the Propoganda sound system. Mark Broom was brilliant. I can’t say enough good things about his set. Everything I’m looking for in a techno DJ.
Marco Carolla got on and tore it up for about 5 tracks, then settled into ‘European style’ a bit much for my taste. The mixing was great, and I was feeling about 1/3 of the tracks, but the other tracks were a tad
Chris Liebing got on and after about 10 minutes of setting up odd gear ripped into it, but I felt about the same during his set as I did during Carolla’s. Great moments, but the total track selection didn’t cut it. However, I had a great time, dancing most of the night, largely because the crowd was so into it.
Got off the tube @ Oxford Circus and walked past Soho. That brought back a lot of good memories from my last two trips. Arrived with almost no line at 10:15. First person I see is Derek Plaslaiko setting things up. Hung out with him periodically throughout the night, which was fun since I was there by myself and haven’t met enough London ers to know who was there. Speaking of , this little insert is my review of the evening:
Magda absolutely killed it. Despite a few turntable difficulties that she navigated through with poise, her set was nearly flawless and covered a lot of ground. I caught almost all three hours. Lots of glitchy/clicks ‘n cuts material, both techno and electro, but some older bleepy techno thrown in for good measure too. She went through one phase where she played a lot of very bizarre electro not long before Hawtin came on that was unlike anything I’ve heard before. Favorite cut of the night was (I think a remix of) “I ain’t f*cked all week”. The crowd was really responsive and energetic, much moreso than I would have expected for the riskiness of the material she played, and older (less raverific) than on my previous trips to The End.
Unfortunately, I missed most of Clark Warner, who on any other night would have been my first choice, but I don’t think I’ve seen Magda play in three years and I really wanted to give Hawtin another chance in a receptive venue, especially after all the great reviews I’ve heard recently. When I ran over to the lounge to get beer, Warner was playing excellent stuff, from some early industrial stuff to Burial Mix to disco. Nothing less than the eclecticism you would expect.
Hawtin came on to a frenzied crowd. Magda could not have set him up much better, and she played a little into his set, which only increased the anticipation. I didn’t recognize many of the tracks he was playing, but it’s evident he’s exited the pure locked-groove mode. I guess ‘minimal’ is the best way to describe it, although he does so much effects work the end result is anything but. I must tip my hat, b/c this was *by far* the best track selection I’ve heard him play, especially for the first hour or so. I was very into it, and I am not generally a fan. If I was to give a really harsh criticism, I’d say that *at times* the effects overload can create a ‘progressification’ of the music, with similar peaks and valleys. However, there were plenty of times when the effects work was stunning, and his general mastery of his gear is unequalled. Sometimes his hands move at Mills speed, adjusting buzillions of settings in a few seconds. I’d be interested to hear reviews of how the rest of the set went, since I reluctantly left around 3:00 to find my way to the closest bus stop. It was nice that it was pretty full, but not teaming in there. It was a really comfortable audience size.
Final Scratch through a Sony VAIO seemed to work very well if not perfectly, for what it’s worth. Also of note: they were using his old effects unit, the Ensoniq DP-4 rather than the Lexicon b/c that one broke. Didn’t miss a beat if you ask me. This ought to shock some people: the record at the back of one of his crates was Pepe Braddock’s ‘Burning’. I would’ve really loved to hear him play that. Also cool: The End has the sound settings for regular DJs permanently programmed into their system – you could tell, and Hawtin was really punishing it (in a good way).
Friday: Left work around 1:00, drove with Lindsey to find Hertz – couldn’t find it for 1/2 hour – turns out it’s at the airport. Go to Hertz counter – they don’t take Check Cards. Try every place (Budget’s rate is $75/day) and wind up @ Dollar (who required a $350 hold on the card which will no-doubt make my life hell this week, and possibly result in overdrafts – ugh). Finally get Lindsey’s car back to her work and hit the road around 3:15 – now two hours later than planned. Miss most of the traffic until upper I-270, then sit through hell and conjestion for most of the next hour. Arrive in Detroit a little after Midnight. Casey meets us there soon before 1:00 to check us in (we got a drink in the mean-time), then headed over to the Sweetwater Tavern (one of my favorite places in Detroit) for a late meal and drinks. Got to bed around 3:00. Got good sleep! Would need it…
Saturday/Sunday: Wandered downstairs to meet Traxx and Casey @ 2:00 to run errands and get food while Lindsey woke up. Wound up not getting any food until 7:00 when we ate @ the Loco Bar & Grill (another of my favorite places in Detroit). The grilled cheese and fries was the only food I got all day… Went back to the hotel and started to work on a bottle of Rum & Coke. Went to the party soon before 11:00. The venue (2030 Grand River) is the old submerge building – a place with tons of musical history. The sound was very echo-y, and people still weren’t showing up. Lindsey went on @ 12, and played a nice set. Unfortunately, there still were very few people although it looked like it might fill up for a while. I got on @ 1:30 and played til 3. Traxx brought a Minidisc recorder and we got discs earlier in the day, so I have a recording of my performance in Detroit! Things were slightly shaky at first, between getting the bass out of the monitors, to cranking them up and adjusting the weight on one of the tunrtables, which skipped and ruined one of my first mixes, but after that it went really well (I think – still need to hear it). I had at least one nasty mix when Cali and Steve were saying goodbye in the middle of an already ill-conceived mix. People were mostly watching T. Linder in the other room for his set – most of the crowd were his freinds, but I made one bartender very happy, and I had a blast. I don’t think I’ve ever put that much of myself into a set, regardless of how the outcome may have been. Anyway.. I can’t wait to hear the set! The bit I heard last night got me excited.
Traxx came on after me, and played 2 1/2 hours of really tight, minimal chicago-y beats with proliferous layers. It was crazy… The cops showed up at 5:30 and closed the party down. We got back to the hotel really late, and didn’t get to bed ’til around 7:30 after hanging with Traxx and his friend Tiny in their room for a while. Great people! Casey called just after we fell asleep, then we woke up @ 11:30. We didn’t really get on the road after breakfast until around 2, so… we just got home @ 11 after returning the rental car and all that. Crazy weekend! Much to do this week…
Anyone remember my dream, El Guapo from April 28, 2002? Well, they played last night @ the 930 Club. It was my first time there. Really nice club, good beer, reasonable cover, considering El Guapo was merely the opening act for ADULT and Trans Am. At any rate, I must have come up with “El Guapo” from seeing them listed for upcoming shows, and then completely forgot about them. Whatevah… On to the show!
El Guapo were very tight. A good 3-piece, with everyone playing lots of different instruments, and a very healthy dose of electronics on-board. Both El Guapo and Trans Am used a Nord Lead 2, and seemed to have an awful lot of fun with the wooden pitch-bend knob. We only caught the last few songs of the first set, but I’d definitely go to see ’em again. ADULT was ADULT. Not too much to say. Lots of tight electroclash in their uniquely punkish way. It was a lot of fun to see them live, and hear some new material. Trans Am really stole the show. The opened up with 2 drummers and 2 keyboards, then pretty much everyone switched instruments throughout the show. The drumming was really energetic throughout, and the more-than-healthy dose of Nord was beautiful. Me thinks I should head to more live shows, or at least go see Trans Am more often, since they’re local. Sorry this entry’s so crap. I’m still pretty hungover.
I can’t say I really felt the vibe I came to Detroit for this year @ the festival proper, but I don’t think that had much to do with festival execution. Much like last year, it was hard to find the right place for your mood. I had some issues with the schedule/stages, like Dave Clarke in an absurdly filled underground stage Sunday night, Stewart Walker and Green Velvet on so early but these are ultimately subjective things. There were a lot of things I chose not to see b/c the crowd issues were unpleasant. I spent close to an hour trying to get from MGD -> CPOP -> Underground during P-Funk. You can’t blame the organizers for that, but it’s a vibe killer. If I have any beef with the organization, it’s that the only way you can see what you want for big names is to get to a stage early, and then you need to sit through a 5-minute loop of loud commercials. I understand the funding needs to come from somewhere, but this was a bit too much. The DJ Supply room was a salvation at times. Keith Worthy played a really nice set from 9-10 Sunday during the middle of that chaos. There were only 5 people in there when I showed up and about 100 when I left. I’m not trying to take a dump on the festival, it just didn’t leave me feeling any of the intensity I felt at the parties, and the logistics of seeing what you want can get messy. I still enjoyed a good deal of my time there though.
So… I found myself seeking out parties this year, not so much because of specific acts, but b/c I thought I would enjoy myself most at those events. Maybe that seems obvious or meaningless, but it helped me guide my choices. Thursday night’s Techno Karaoke party was fun, even though we arrived late. Derrick Plaslaiko should never be given a microphone. 🙂 Dykehouse did a really nice Robert Plant impression for a minute too. It was nice to see lots of locals out for a party designed for fun. Good stuff.
Friday night was spent @ Dennis’ list party – a great chance to touch base with lots of 313ers before the weekend kicked into high gear. From there I headed to Chamillian Cafe for TP, who was in top form. I got there as he started – he captivated me throughout. Great vibe, small venue, nothing but heads in the place. Pure entertainment at its finest, with TP at his most crowd-interactive. I love seeing him in really small places for that reason. It’s just a great party.
Saturday night I checked out the OMOA Music shindig for about an hour and a half. I think this label is really gonna turn some heads. Szymanski played a brilliant broken beat set, including his new track (mmm…). Their slogan, “Good for Party”, pretty much summed it up. After that I headed to Cannonball Run for Traxx, Derek Plaslaiko, Carlos Souffront, BMG and others. They played an awful lot of ’80s tracks. Yussel et al did a great job with this event. Derek in particular made my night, doing his aggressive, no-cueing mixes for a while. He can produce so much energy when he goes at it uninhibited like that. It was a pretty stark contrast with his DJ Supply set Monday night, which was tight as hell, with some amazing glitchy tracks I’ve never heard, but not quite so energetic. He’s got to be one of the most talented and diverse DJs in Detroit.
Sunday night I was a bit fed up with fighting crowds so I headed to the Planet E party early. Rob’s set was really subtle and beautiful. I thought Carl Craig pulled out all the stops. I’ve always loved his DJing, with some *mild* reservations about his ability to capitalize on the power of mixing compared to someone like DJ Bone (not to say he isn’t usually very tight). Sunday he went-off on the decks like I’ve never heard him do. I think my entire body convulsed in one 5-minute spasm when he dropped Fix Flash. Todd Sines’ new material is really going to make a mark. He’s found a warmer sound than the colder, Monolake-esque style he played last year (not that I didn’t love that set too). The Mark Ernestus dub set was really tasty too. Unfortunately the fuel tank was empty at that point. This was all I could have expected from such a brilliant lineup. No one disappointed. Oh – and Mike Clark played a new DNH track that reminds me a lot of “deep burnt”, but expanding on that idea. I think it was called “Trackhead” – I presume it’s Nick Holder. It was a white label, so I think it might be forthcoming. Keep your eyes peeled.
Monday night was spent @ The Works. I think I checked out the main room for all of 10 minutes all night. I’m pretty sure it was D Wynn playing early in the front. He was really on, playing some uptempo house flawlessly. This really set the mood for Ron Trent, who dropped at least 4 hours of deeeeeeep house. This set really moved me. I’ve never danced that much in my life. Otto didn’t leave the dancefloor for more than 10 seconds of his entire set. I thought when I saw him in DC last Fall, it was one of those Detroit-esque moments that never happen here, that I would likely never see Ron Trent reproduce. Somehow, he surpassed it twelve-fold. This was the best set of the festival for me, only closely matched by Radio Boy. If anyone knows what the building, dueling pianos track was that he played twice about 3 hours apart, I will be forever indebted. He was playing it from track 3 on a CD, and I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt him to find out. The art of deep house mixing is often so much about laying out the tracks in a great order and making the set move conceptually. He wrote the textbook on that last night.
No matter what happens to the festival going forward, parties like these convey what the Detroit scene is capable of that can’t be found elsewhere. I had a really fabulous time. I <3 Detroit.
Last Sunday I spun the craziest set of my life @ The Blue Room. It went something like this:
-3 Wax Trax classics, on the dancier side of things
-Chris & Cosey
-2 Depeche Mode Violator era rarities
-Erasure remixed by Thomas Fehlmann
-Pet Shop Boys remixed by Mark Kinchen
-4 or 5 early “ravey” techno (but good not stupid) tracks and early Tresor stuff from Sun Electric, 3MB Thomas Fehlmann
-3 of my tracks
[drops the first and only record, all else was on CD] Nobukazu Takemura’s remix of Yo La Tengo
-The Sea & Cake’s “A Man Who Never Sees A Pretty Girl That He Doesn’t Love Her A Little”
-Human Resource’s “Dominator” (abrubtly cut short when I was informed this type of music – cheesy rave stuff – is forbidden in their contract, which didn’t bother me any, the joke was already over)
-concluding with the Jack Dangers remix of David Byrne’s weird industrial project “Forestry”.
It was a lot of fun, even if I scared about a dozen people off. 🙂
So I get a call at around 7:45pm asking me to go down to the club to help set up. I’m making dinner, so I don’t get down there for nearly an hour. All reports about this place leading up to this, my first visit, were horrendously sketchy. After I get in there, the place actually looks surprisingly cool. Kinda like a bigger version of Neo in Chicago – ya know, the all-black paint, weird risers near the walls, long bar, etc. First thing I hear from my friend Greg is that someone was shot with an AK-47 outside the place last weekend. Just what I wanted to hear, regardless of how factual it was.
So… when we arrive none of the sound is in place. After an extremely tedious process of moving an entire PA from the downstairs to the upstairs of this club, we start to hook this thing up. The entire DJ booth is run out of one wall outlet. 1500 Watts of power running through one wall outlet. Imagine 7 washer/dryers in one wall outlet. INSANE! Not to mention that all of the PA speakers are hooked up with normal speaker wire, like you and I have at home, from the aforementioned 500+ watt amplifiers. I can simplify all of this by saying it’s a fire code inspectors worst nightmare…. 5 minutes of testing the sound with 2/3rds of the speakers hooked up, the entire DJ booth goes dead. The owner of the club didn’t even know where the fuse box was! He wound up hooking up the DJ booth using the 20 foot extension cords you’d find in your garage to outlets on the other side of the room. WHAT THE FUCK??? THEN, after all of this, and one of the speakers blowing at 1/2 volume, he tells me we have ruined his club. I was about to strangle the guy… There’s just no talking to him. So this process of trying to get things powered back up goes on for another 1/2-hour until 10:05, 5 minutes after we’re supposed to start, and then I go home to get some things taken care of before spending the rest of my night there.
I get back to the club around midnight, and the first thing I hear is that we’re not charging anyone at the door because the sound is not working. My friend tells me his set was interrupted 7 times by the owner asking to shut everything off while he rewired things (did I mention the owner didn’t show up until 45 minutes before we started)? I immediately have to jump into a conversation between one of the managers and a guy who is distantly affiliated with us that was trying to fix the sound, telling him to back off, that it was a totally futile effort. During the next 45 minutes we lost the monitors in the DJ booth twice, the second time the owner told us to go on without them… I just left. What a disaster.
Did I mention we had maybe 45 people of an expected 500??? Apparently word had gotten out about the danger of the night (probably a good thing all things considered), and the ravers steered clear. My friend’s warnings that we didn’t want to tarnish our reputation in such a shady venue rang completely true.
Cheers to Lev, the Czech beer selling for $6.49 at the liquor store next door. I’m the only person who buys it so they’ve got a huge backstock that’s dropped over $2 in price since I first tried it. It’s got a picture of a guy that looks like Shakespeare on the 6 pack. Well recommended after a frustrating night of anything. 🙂