Splinter Productions in association with Threshold present THE VARSITY ALL STARS annual Old Skool Tearout with Marcus Visionary , Medicine Muffin , C64 , Rumbleton , Recoil , Frankie Gunns , Rick Toxic , DJ Oven & Stove and Chris Morelli at Labyrinth Lounge (298 Brunswick), Friday (September 23). $5 before 11:30, $7 after. firstname.lastname@example.org. Rating: NNNNN
Though jungle music may not have the same profile here that it had a decade ago, when Toronto was North America's jungle capital, the genre is still firmly entrenched in our nightlife. Linked up with the healthy warehouse party scene of the 90s, promoters like Pleasure Force established hardcore jungle's raw combination of sped-up breakbeats and bowel-shifting bass pressure as the flavour of choice for an entire generation of partiers. In 1999, the once-underground sound peaked as an industry of epic proportions, with raves like Syrous/Dose's Run DMC event drawing over 15,000 partiers to the International Centre.
Along with nights devoted to pushing current tunes, T.O. promoters like Splinter-Threshold pay deserved attention to the groundbreaking early-90s sound. The crew, made up of Mercedes Lee, Chris Minifie and Ryan Stevens, is gearing up for the fourth year of their annual old-school jam.
"The original thrust for the party was nostalgia," explains Stevens (aka DJ Frankie Gunns), who joined the team two years ago, over the phone. "They wanted to show how the vibe of a real old-school party should be."
The promoters promise an in-depth celebration of the early 90s breakbeat era, with vets Marcus Visionary and Medicine Muffin digging deep into the crates to pull out gems in various styles from dark hardcore to ragga jungle.
"It's not gonna be just huge anthems," he cautions, adding, "although we'll probably bring one here and there."
Stevens, who'll be playing a set of 91-93 hardcore alongside Rick Toxic, says the party is equally split between younger kids and the older generation of partiers. "A lot of people you don't really see out any more come out of the woodwork."
Many of the people at today's jungle parties are too young to have attended those early jams, and events like Splinter Force's help expose current heads to music they know and appreciate but don't get to hear when they go out.
"There's a certain raw energy involved in the music from that period," says Stevens. "People just like getting crazy to the old jams once in a while."
Having been at last year's event, where people literally hit the ceiling with enthusiasm, I can guarantee he's telling the truth.