COOL DUO AT COOLCOOL DUO AT COOL
The deep house scene in Toronto likes to think of itself as being the most authentic representation of house music. It's true that the current wave of Afro-Latin disco-influenced vocal house popular with the Roxy Blu crowd is very similar to the original underground disco sound. But the mature, restrained atmosphere of that scene leaves something to be desired in the way of a full-on party.
Last Saturday's appearance at the Kool Haus by house music godfather Frankie Knuckles and influential New York DJ David Morales highlighted the differences between the purists and the larger club community.
While some of the regular faces from the underground scene attended, most of the usual suspects were absent -- strange, considering both DJs' legendary status. Unlike a typical night at Roxy Blu, there was a very visible gay presence mixing with a somewhat mainstream straight crowd. It was one of the most diverse crowds seen at a house jam for some time in Toronto, and the result was a much less self-conscious atmosphere.
Unlike the market research events disguised as parties that alcohol and cigarette companies have been organizing at the massive club complex, this party was run by the Guvernment itself. So instead of tons of overrated superstar DJs playing short sets, we got two of the world's best mixers playing all night to a crowd there to hear them do what they do best. Knuckles didn't even step up to the decks until well after last call, the time when many clubs are starting to empty out onto the streets.
Beautifully decorated, the club had hundreds of little candles suspended from the ceiling along with about a dozen disco balls, while multiple slide and film projections illuminated huge panels.
Both DJs played flawless sets, hitting many sub-genres of house throughout the evening but definitely favouring the vocals. Now, if only they'd run the Kool Haus like this all the time.
TRENT ON TRACKTRENT ON TRACK
RNB's presentation of Ron Trent last Friday at Una Mas more than made up for their disaster-ridden party above Aria a couple of months back.
This time the notoriously sound-obsessive DJ took no chances, arriving at the club at 1 in the afternoon to fine-tune the sound system and augment it with twice as many bass bins as the club normally uses.
This is how Una Mas should sound -- clean and loud without crossing the pain threshold. RNB also disabled the annoying flashing coloured light recently installed in the basement, an addition the club might want to reconsider.
BLOCK PARTY BLASTBLOCK PARTY BLAST
This year's edition of the North By Northeast block party Friday and Saturday was the best so far, despite the lack of big-name headliners.
One of the reasons for its success this year was that organizers had coordinated with the Up Festival so that they weren't competing with each other.
The other big improvement was the cohesiveness of the lineup. Although a lot of genres were represented over the two days, the schedule didn't seem nearly as random as past years. This made it more likely that fans would stay for more than one set, and helped build something closer to a genuine party atmosphere.
Neither day attracted many people until the sun went down, but the parking lot was packed both days by 10 pm, and the extended hours ensured that people could stay longer instead of just poking their heads in and leaving.
The four-turntable angle was definitely more of a gimmick than anything else. Most DJs just took turns within their team's showcase instead of actually playing over top of each other.
Next year, block party planners should consider booking fewer DJs so they can each play a full hour. As entertaining as the Dino and Terry vs. Gani and Izzy match-up was, it didn't allow any of them much of an opportunity to showcase their own style.