Bug and scratch
Arrived at the El Mocambo Saturday night to find the place slowly filling up as Ian Guthrie warmed up the crowd. Shortly after 1 am Steve Bug stepped up to the decks and someone shut off the main lights, signalling that it was time to jack things up a notch. Despite feeling not fabulous and having to head to the can periodically, Bug had most of the crowd in his palm, moving from deep tech-house to funky techno to jacking Chicago-style tracks. Some techno heads felt he was playing too housey and the house heads found it too hard, but the vast majority were up for it, sweating buckets until the lights came on 4:30 am.
Surprisingly, Bug didn't play one record the whole night, instead using Final Scratch to mix songs from his laptop using two special records pressed with time code.
There's been a lot of discussion in the DJ scene about this technology. Some worry DJs will start relying on file-sharing instead of buying records, and others are convinced that the technology isn't stable enough and the sound isn't as good as records.
Bug showed that there was no audible difference between his digital files and the vinyl that Guthrie used. There were some glitches - the controller records skipped a couple of times - but that's no different than with real vinyl.
The advantage of this technology is that a DJ can bring way more songs than he could carry on vinyl and access them more quickly, and thus be more responsive to the crowd, which is what DJing is supposed to be about.
The real irony is that this cutting-edge technology still depends on turntables that haven't changed much in more than 20 years. So much for techno's love of progress.
Take the A-Train
Jason Ulrich has been doing a Friday night (recently renamed A-Train ) at the Chelsea Room for a while that seems to have evolved into a consistent little lounge night. Last week he had Anand of the Groove Institute filling in for him, mixing up a similar blend of deep disco classics, broken beat, soulful house and Afro-Latin rhythms.
The venue, basically a sit-down kind of place, has something between a chi-chi lounge atmosphere and a more casual pub-type vibe. It's a nice environment for warming up the night and listening to mellow melodic music, where you can lose track of time and end up spending the whole night.
Glide goes down
Kudos to Denise Benson and Andrew Allsgood for managing to keep Glide Wednesdays at Fez Batik alive for an impressive seven years. After a long run, they decided to end it, making September 24 the final night. For the occasion they brought in Ottawa's Rise Ashen alongside local guests Anousheh , Jelly and Wize 'n' Phocus .
Benson and Allsgood will be starting a new Friday-night weekly soon, but the music will be shifting to include more rock-influenced material as well as electro and new wave flavours. The deep jazzy stuff will still be played, but the focus will be on a wider eclecticism. More and more, DJs are getting hungry for the opportunity to play a more varied mix of music, and lately the crowds are receptive. Who knows? Maybe in a year, genre-specific nights will be the exception rather than the norm.