STEVE BUG with GREG GOW and IAN GUTHRIE at the El Mocambo (494 Spadina), Saturday (September 27). $15. 416-777-1777. Rating: NNNNN
If you look around the club scene, it's hard not to be struck by the current retro mentality. Classic house parties, post-punk nights, old-school jungle, old-school hiphop and classic funk fill the club listings, at least at the underground level. Talk to some scenesters and you get a sad indicator of the health of dance music, but those who've been around a bit longer tend to see this as a transitional phase, one that we may be ready to leave.
Germany's Steve Bug, who's been at the centre of the minimal techno and house scene, has seen it go through a number of changes over the years. Listening to his DJ sets and records, you hear someone who has one foot firmly planted in the tradition of this music and the other striding forward to take it into a new day.
"I've been into house since 1987, so I've been through the whole development of house, trance and techno. For me, the circle was closed in 2001/2002, when all of a sudden we were back where it all started - deep minimal, dirty house tracks, of course with influences of the last 14 years, but really with the feeling of those first years.
"I think from here we can start again and go in new directions. For me, this means 'back to the old school' is kind of over. Too many people are doing those kinds of tracks right now. I'm trying to create something else."
Bug also runs the successful labels Dessous and Poker Flat. On the production front, he's released a long string of albums showcasing his love of chunky minimal techno funk, as well as the aptly named series of mix CDs, Da Minimal Funk.
He's played some of the biggest techno and house events in Europe, but his vision of a perfect party is actually closer to what we'll see Saturday (September 27) at the El Mo.
"The perfect techno party for me is a small club with 300 to 500 people, a mixed crowd - young people, older people, stylish people, normal people, gay people, straight people and so on. It has a special, sexy atmosphere on the dance floor, a connection between the crowd and DJ, and a good sound and light system."
Anyone with a love of dirty funky techno who's caught Bug's previous Toronto appearances can attest that in that setting he can be completely devastating (in a good way). It's not that he's the flashiest DJ or that his technical skills are impeccable, but more that he has a good understanding of how to build a set over an evening.
"I'm not a big fan of backspins, scratches and crazy moves. I'm more into long and slow harmony mixes, which for some people is boring in the beginning. But if they listen to the whole set, they see it's more the flow that makes my sets and mixes."