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Neil Aline rocked the Garage 416 party Friday (July 20) with a solid set of straight-up soulful house. Known for running the Chez Music label in New York, Aline delivered the sound that this crowd wants -- smooth vocal house, garage, jazzy instrumentals and deep house -- but didn't drop many surprises. Nevertheless, he's a good DJ and everybody got their house fix.
Hot Stepper, the guys behind Garage 416, Bump n' Hustle and Level 101 who have brought a lot of talented DJs and musicians to Toronto, have definitely played an important role in shaping the tastes of local clubbers. More of the larger venues are veering away from the harder sounds in favour of the soulful, and in spite of the growing number of promoters catering to this sound, the parties are as big as ever. Maybe now our hometown deep house and garage DJs will start getting the bookings they deserve.
Celebrities Night Club is the host to Soulutions, a back-to-basics Saturday house music weekly. The resident is Adam Khan, and his guest last week was Peter Bosco (garagehousemusic.com) spinning an uplifting, sexy set of classic vocal house and garage to an appreciative crowd. The party has a very old-school vibe, with no flashing lights -- barely any light at all, actually. Dark, sweaty, with far more dancers than gawkers, and lots of yelling and singing. The crowd tends to get there late and stay later, but the capacity is small, so go early if you want to be sure to get in. Nice to see someone doing a kickin' party without international guests.
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Wide Thursdays at Liquids is an interesting combination of dub reggae and dubby house. Put together by Phox, it features Iron Will and Dub Rocket playing the dub and Ali Black spinning house. Black is one of the more underrated local house DJs, one of the few to have an identifiable personal style. His pairing with local dub DJs is a nice match. Too few promoters are willing to cross genres. Caught Dub Rocket playing a dub plate of one of his own tracks, a weird electro-dub-house thing with big reggae bass line. Hopefully, we'll be seeing some releases from him soon; the track was a bit lo-fi and left-field but it worked.
Revival is a slick new bar on College that features live music as well as DJs. Clean Thursdays sees DJ Jason Ulrich at the decks spinning nu jazz, deep house and disco. Ulrich is a clean mixer with excellent taste. He's doing a Saturday version called Clean Grind on August 4 that might be worth checking out. The bar itself is a bit too big to be an effective lounge but has enough space for a decent-sized dance floor. It would probably make for a better club than lounge if they took out the tables and put in a better sound system. An attractive venue that still seems to be defining itself.