Walking into the brand new State Theatre Thursday (see club spotlight, page 94), we were hit hard in the chest by the powerful bass. Will Munro was spinning some electro-influenced beats to warm up the crowd for Belgian new wave revivalists Vive La Fete . A good-sized crowd came out for the band's Toronto debut, and no one seemed to mind that they were a good hour behind schedule. When the five-piece finally took the stage, one of the first things you noticed was how short the boys in the band looked beside Els Pynoo , their towering blond bombshell of a frontwoman.
Sporting identical Bladerunner-inspired makeup, the band tore through a set of tunes drawn largely from their most recent album, Grand Prix, along with a smattering of songs from their back catalogue.
Toward the end of the set, Pynoo's partner in crime, Danny Mommens , pulled a girl from the crowd to strum his guitar over one of their simpler tracks, and then handed the mic over to a very excited guy who improvised vocals and jumped up and down like a toddler on a sugar bender.
The promoters behind the party, AD/D , have been holding events at Mod Club Theatre for a while now, but the State Theatre feels better because it's more intimate, more like a dance club than a concert venue. However, the promoters seem content to keep most of their events at Mod Club, so don't expect big changes any time soon.
Rub & Tug T.O.-style
It's been years since NYC had a club scene worth mentioning, largely because of the lack of decent venues for anything remotely cool. Toronto's nightlife has been following a similar trajectory in recent years, and most of the dance places have been turned into chi-chi lounges for people to display their wealth and order overpriced bottles of vodka.
Some New Yorkers have reacted to the changes there by concentrating on after-hours loft parties -- intimate events outside the mainstream bar scene, in unconventional spaces.
One of the hotter ongoing events in that city is the Rub'N'Tug parties thrown by Eric Duncan and Thomas Bullock , who've built a name for themselves playing dance music for the indie rock scene.
Friday night, they offered a Toronto version of their party, setting up shop in a loft on Queen West. Musically, the soundtrack was pitched-down house, synth-disco oddities and quirky slow techy beats. Mixing wasn't their forte (almost every transition was a bit of a wreck), but the selections were interesting and mainly unfamiliar.
Unfortunately, the dancers were greatly outnumbered by partiers more content to stand and chat, but that's always the risk when you bring in something different from the norm.
Groovin' on a Sunday afternoon
Every Sunday afternoon on the patio of Big Papa's Bordello , the percussionists of iDrum and DJ Joe Rizla take over the restaurant with their Afro-Latin-inspired rhythms for an event called Sunday Lime . Neighbours can hear the drumming a block away, which has led to noise complaints on a few occasions.
Rizla and iDrum have honed their combination of live drumming and DJing over the past few years into a pretty effective machine, but the acoustic percussion does tend to overpower the records.
Soon the warm weather will be gone, so catch it while you can.