Last Saturday, three downtown reggae crews teamed up on the top floor of the El Mocambo to warm that frigid night with some booming bass lines and friendly island vibes for Culture Sound Splash .
SuperheavyREGGAE , Zion Gate Sound and K-Zar all specialize in roots reggae, both modern and classic, and draw diverse crowds of dreads, hippies, university students and reggae fans of all stripes. Considering the snowstorm, they got a pretty big crowd out, and more were streaming in at around 1 am when we left.
SuperheavyREGGAE and their three-pronged attack of DJing, vocals and live sax were crowd-pleasing as usual. It's really striking how the simple addition of a live instrument can make the DJ performance so much more immediate. They've fine-tuned this format into a very effective weapon, cutting to the sax and working the echo unit to achieve thundering dub effects.
K-Zar went a little more old-school in his selections, with Ranking Fur-I and Zigga on the mic. The former had a relaxed and confident flow and worked well with K-Zar's manipulation of the echo unit and a homemade-looking electronic box that emitted ghostly squeals, wails and sirens when he flicked its switches and cranked its knobs. Sounded great, but a little ear-piercing at times.
Zigga occasionally commented into the mic, but left it to Ranking Fur-I for the most part.
Syp sans sound system
The new owners of 56 Kensington (now Syp Lounge ) inherited many of the parties that used to happen there. That's good for them, but not so good for the promoters, who now have to rent sound equipment for their nights. That just isn't something you want to have to do when you're throwing a party at an actual club. The jury is still out on whether the removal of the infamous black-light fish tanks is a good thing or not, but the place is definitely cleaner and fresher smelling than it used to be, and the washrooms are more functional.
Expensive Shit were there Friday, and so were a lot of their friends, packing the little basement club and making it feel like the good old days again (except without the fog of cigarette smoke).
Captain Easychord and DJ Nunk rocked out at the decks, playing an interesting combination of grimy UK hiphop, electro-influenced d 'n' b, contemporary American hiphop, electro and a smattering of danceable rock. (Elvis Costello's Pump It Up was a big song.)
Disco under controller.controller
Just around the corner from Expensive Shit, controller.controller were doing a DJ night at the Embassy Bar called Disco Blackout , where, as you might expect, lots of disco punk tunes got played, some of them by bands they've recently been touring with. It was a cute little night, but not the kind of place with any room to dance. This is only the second time the band's done a night like this, and since they're going on tour to the UK soon, it'll probably be a while until the next Disco Blackout.
Open format getting old
Kensington Market is getting busy at night these days. Up the street from the Embassy on Friday at Supermarket , a cheerful open-format-style party called Dynasty had a decent-sized crowd out but lukewarm energy on the dance floor. Pleasant enough, but little distinguished it from all the other open-format nights; the formula is getting kind of repetitive.