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The Mambo Urbano Orchestra unleashed their live Latin house throb on a party at the Revival last Friday that was a little too successful for its own good. Many fans ended up stuck in the basement after paying their cover because the main floor had reached capacity early. Those who managed to make it upstairs found themselves without much room to move, which made the crowd unusually static.
The band has come a long way since their early shows, having lost much of their jammy looseness in favour of a tighter, song-based aesthetic. A guest appearance by soul diva Divine Earth Essence a few songs in boosted the energy level a notch -- she regularly steals the show at gigs, whether she's the featured performer, a guest or background vocalist.
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Vital Productions has taken over Saturday nights at the Hooch for drum 'n' bass and 2-step featuring residents Marcus, Velocity and Chase.
Last Saturday saw local d 'n' b hero Marcus manning the decks, spinning a smooth and sexy set of UK garage. Marcus has always been one of the city's more soulful d 'n' b DJs, so it makes sense that he'd turn to 2-step as a respite from the hard and fast sounds dominating the genre.
Still in its infancy, 2-step seems to be maturing nicely, if Marcus's mix was any indication. Wisely avoiding the helium vocal pop remixes, he focused on the sound's more refined aspects. The big surprise occurred when he mixed into some traditional garage house. For somebody known for his taste in breaks, he's actually a pretty credible four-on-the-floor house DJ.
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Curtis Smith is one of Toronto's under-appreciated treasures, a skilled veteran DJ who should be playing at quality deep house nights but can be found instead at small bar and restaurant residencies like his Friday-night gig at Temptation.
Not that there's anything wrong with Temptation, a charming little bar with a warm vibe, but 10 people can fill up its dance floor. Smith is a rare combination of excellent taste and impressive skills, and even though there were only five people in the bar, he was still working harder then most club DJs. Impeccable mixing coupled with a deep record collection and an ear for undiscovered gems -- this is why so many younger DJs list his Out Of D'Ordinary show on CKLN as an inspiration.
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Jersey gospel house legend Kenny Bobien rocked the sold-out party at the Reverb last Saturday, putting on an inspired performance for an ecstatic crowd. Considering the large number of people turned away at the door, finding an appropriately sized venue for any future performances will be tough. Easily one of the most memorable recent live house shows.
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Thursdays at Fez Batik have been going through a transition period but currently feature the DJ team Darker than Blue. Desmond and Andrew are versatile, skilled mixers whose tastes run from hard to soft and old to new. Expect anything from 80s funk and classic disco to current tech house and garage. Up-and-comers to watch out for.