Checked out the Pixelate party last Friday at the Mockingbird, which drew a good-sized crowd to celebrate the return of Toronto expat Algorithm from his recent world tour. One of a growing number of parties focusing on the intersection of deep house and deeper techno, Pixelate has done well for itself over the past year, considering how new they are to the promotion game.
Zuzana Grimm opened up the night with a sexy set of pumping techno, proving the underrated selector can hold her own alongside the city's best-known spinners. Somebody should give her a peak time slot. Following Grimm was Steve Yanko, who started out much more techy than usual before sliding into familiar funky deep house territory.
Most people were there for Algorithm, and you could feel the energy level in the room rise as he stepped up to the decks. He was joined by Pan/tone, who had brought his computer along to perform live over Algorithm's mix.
Although there was a lot of potential for looseness, their set went surprisingly smoothly. Unfortunately, the closing set by Vukan was cut short because the management was impatient to clear out the club. Considering the reaction he was getting from the still-sizable crowd, this seemed a bit disrespectful. Many partiers got to the event fairly late and were expecting the event to go to at least 4 am, but the owners had a different idea.
Stopped by B-side on Saturday to check out live Latin house group El Shaman. While the bar was only about half full, most were dancing by the end of the performance. El Shaman use a sampler and effects with a live percussion backing and occasional flute interludes, creating an impressive thump with minimal set-up. The addition of one more musician might help to introduce more sonic variety, but they put on an exciting, high-energy show with what they've got.
Saturday afternoon, the distant bass throb drew me to the parking lot at Queen West and Portland for the 416 Graffiti Expo. There, DJ Son of Soul was expertly cutting and scratching his way through hiphop and funk classics as the breakers challenged each other on the linoleum. An impressive crowd was on hand to represent while dozens of spray-can-equipped artists worked hard at adding colour to the dreary walls in the area.
The message for the day was that this art form is inspired by a need for self-expression rather than gang activity, as many unfortunately still believe. While it's understandable why people don't appreciate the mindless tagging of businesses and homes, it's impossible to deny the beauty of the large murals decorating the back alleys of the city.