Chandler A Champion
There was a smaller-than-expected crowd out last Thursday at Roxy Blu for New York deep house hero Kerri Chandler, put on by promoters Jive 3.
The top floor was reasonably full, but the event didnÕt draw enough people to open the bottom floor as planned, leaving a number of DJs spectators.
Toronto's deep house scene can be very loyal to its favourite promoters. Jive 3 face an uphill battle to prove themselves, since many associate them more with their weekly Bang party at System Soundbar than with the soulful house scene.
True, they do tend to attract a different crowd than some of the more established promoters in this scene do, but the formal aspects of their parties are fairly similar to what's being offered by their competition - slide projections as lighting, New York headliners and the usual local supporting DJs. Their crowd tends to be more 'up for it' than the usual Roxy Blu scene.
After Denise BensonÕs smooth, mellow opening set, Chandler stepped up to the decks and established his vibe immediately with the a cappella of Can You Feel It mixed into a dramatic, atmospheric Latin jazz track.
From there he moved into the hard-hitting but spiritual house sound for which he's so well loved. Chandler relies less on familiar anthems than many DJs in this genre Ð he knows his skills alone can keep the dance floor jumping. He's one of the few who can work the deep end of house, with its more upbeat aspects, and still project a defined identity.
UK stoner-hop duo Fila Brazillia wisely brought along an MC - apparently a last-minute replacement they discovered at their New York gig - to help with the crowd-pleasing last Friday at the Reverb. Before he took the stage, it looked like the show was going to be another staring contest between an unresponsive T.O. audience and a shy British studio project.
While the mystery MC's stream-of-consciousness freestyling may have grated on the nerves of some Fila Brazillia fans, at least his manic stage presence kept things interesting. Fila's eclectic mix of downtempo, triphop, indie rock, dub and white-boy jam-band funk is unpredictable and entertaining on disc, but projects like Fila often show their limitations at live gigs.
Most of the hard-to-reproduce sounds were handled by Steve Cobby's laptop, while he and partner Dave McSherry did some guitar, bass and occasional synth doodling over top of Matt Swindell's drums.
This kept things pretty tight except when they went off on improvised tangents, at which point their limited musicianship was evident. Many in the crowd must have been surprised by the repeated incursions into Sabbath-inspired metal funk, but it actually sounded much better than youÕd think.
Last Friday at Temple, Taboo Life brought Godwin, the vocalist behind the UK garage hit Only You, to Toronto for his first local appearance.
Unfortunately, his hit hasn't translated here, much less the over-the-top circuit-party version he performed to the reserved crowd last week.
Granted, he's not the only one to blame for the lack of vibe. Temple seems to have that effect no matter what the event. The sound is actually getting worse, and the long table through the middle of the dance floor was always a bad idea.