OPTIMO with EXPENSIVE SHIT at the Supermarket (268 Augusta), tonight (Thursday, March 3). $8. www.optimo.co.uk. Rating: NNNNN
When Optimo started doing their weekly Sunday-night party in Glasgow in 1997, the idea of mixing punk, techno, house, 80s pop, electro, mash-ups and disco was a tough sell.
These days, of course, there's quite the buzz around the open-format approach to DJing and the interplay of the indie rock and dance scenes.
Optimo are Twitch and Jonnie Wilkes, DJs who'd been through the rave explosion of the 90s but were growing increasingly bored with the restrictions of electronic music. When they got a chance to play all the other records they loved, they honed a style that was recently captured in a two-CD mix called How To Kill The DJ (Part 2).
"Our Sunday-night event was very small for the first year, not more than 100 people," recalls Wilkes from his Glasgow home. "We used to rearrange the cavernous club to make it look smaller. I don't know how it happened, but suddenly it went from 80 people to 500 in one week, a little after the first year."
In some ways they're pioneers in this as-yet-unnamed style, but it should be pointed out that many similar scenes have popped up all over the world, each with a slightly different flavour.
In the case of Optimo, they don't hide their dance side, and you're likely to hear some decent minimal techno next to the cheeky mash-ups. Wilkes uses turntables and CDs in a traditional way, while Twitch uses the performance software Ableton Live to piece together loops and fragments along with full songs.
For most of the night they take turns playing half-hour sets ("so that the other can go to the bar for beer"), then play together at the end of the night.
Wilkes makes a point of acknowledging that the unique vibe and community they've established at their party isn't something you can pack up and transplant to another city intact. He doesn't seem bothered, though, by having to adjust to new audiences when touring.
"When we're in a new town for the first time, we'll play more conservatively to be considerate. We're not going to start our set with a noise record, which we might do at home at our club. We're not that well known, so while the promoter might be excited about us, the crowd won't really know what we're about.
"It's a skill to play songs that might not be dance records and make them work. You have to pay attention to the crowd and read it."