The Leisure boys, Mike Sitchon and Steve Yanko, launched their new Web site, www.leisure.fm, with a party at Spin Gallery Saturday night.
Arrived to hear Son Of S.O.U.L. warming up the crowd with some sweet disco and soul. The gallery space had been cleared out and featured some simple but effective slide and video projections courtesy of Wabi. As often happens with projections at parties, they were a bit too bright for people to feel comfortable standing next to them, at least until more bodies showed up.
Sitchon was up next, spinning a nice blend of trippy techy tracks and soulful vocals. By this point, the room was starting to fill up, and the dance floor had begun to move. Following Sitchon was his partner, Yanko, who steered the sound in a funky, disco-inspired house direction.
Sometime after 3 am, Adam Marshall took over the decks and spun a mind-melting house set that included everything from Prince to Akufen. At times verging on industrial, at others firmly rooted in early house sounds, this was the kind of schizophrenic mix that only he can play. Although Marshall is better known as a techno DJ, his occasional house sets are always memorable.
Too bad about the turntables getting bumped by over-enthusiastic partiers, causing them to skip during a few mixes.
Blue threw a CD release party for Richie Hawtin and Sven Väth's new mix CD last Thursday. The event also doubled as the five-year anniversary of Blue as a booking agency, record label and event promoter.
Turbo was a good location for the party, since it has a fairly respectable sound system (augmented a bit for this event), lots of room and its decor is appropriate enough for a techno event. It's also been the site of several other Thursday-night Richie Hawtin parties over the past few years, so lots of techno fans have good memories of the space.
Some were surprised that Sven Väth was opening up for Hawtin, given that he hasn't played much in Toronto before and he's a pretty big name in European techno. On the other hand, Hawtin has had a huge following in Toronto for a long time, and you can't beat home field advantage.
Väth started out in funky techno mode but quickly moved toward fast and hard territory, broken up with a few excursions into electro-inspired weirdness -- fun and crowd-pleasing, though not particularly innovative. The tracks he dropped from the new mix disc seemed to get the best response, indicating that it's already been picked up by a lot of people.
Hawtin came on sometime after 2 am, and you could immediately feel the mood change. He was in his classic twisted and weird mode instead of the hard-as-nails pounding he's been into lately. There are few other DJs in the world who can pull off this kind of set late on a weekday night and still keep the crowd there until morning.
Intense, scary, and strangely funky -- what techno is meant to be.
Checked out UK drum 'n' bass heavyweights Fabio and Grooverider Friday night at Red Square. The size of the lineup snaking its way around the corner raised fears that it would be uncomfortably rammed inside.
Luckily, attendance was capped at a very sensible level, insuring that those who did make it inside could enjoy themselves. Fabio was the first of the pair to play after the locals, and got things rolling with a sweet set of bouncy jazzy d 'n' b. Toward the end, he started dropping a lot of very house-influenced d 'n' b, which was a nice surprise.
Grooverider was next, and destroyed the crowd with a tough set of aggressive beats and rolling bass lines. During some tracks, you could actually see bottles bouncing on the bass bins. Many rewinds were called for during his set, and the crowd reaction was exuberant, to say the least.
Unfortunately, weekly drum 'n' bass at Red Square won't be around for much longer, as they've been having problems drawing a crowd except for special events like this. Considering the size of the scene in Toronto, it's surprising that there aren't more clubs trying to tap the market and make a weekly night work.