Skurge goes chic
It's good to see the Drake trying to expand its programming, but something should really be done about the sound if the hotel's going to import DJs. Friday night, the Toronto Alternative Art Fair International (TAAFI) invited DJ Skurge and German techno DJ Tobias Koth to play in the lounge, which doesn't normally host such pounding beats.
"This is probably the cleanest place this music has even been played" was how a techno-loving friend described the Drake.
In this case, though, the beats didn't really pound, as the system's limiters prevented the volume from going above a mellow pitter-patter. Even after sound upgrades earlier this year, there's still no punch or body.
Along with the Drake's regular weekend crowd, the event also attracted a handful of techno folk, most of whom were equally bemused by the juxtaposition of Underground Resistance-style techno and a chi-chi lounge.
DJ Sneak 's annual Birthday Beats parties are among the most anticipated events of the year for the post-Industry crowd, but Saturday's was even more so because it was also the first night of 270 Spadina , the former location of Boa-Redux (which recently reopened in the club district). Between 1 and 2 am the lineup was huge, but those of us who got there later (or earlier) made it in quickly without incident. Mark Farina has been a guest at most of Sneak's events, and his sets are always a highlight. His strength is his versatility -- he can go from funky Chicago house to soulful jazzy stuff and hiphouse and not lose the crowd. Technique-wise he's also strong, which brings us to Junior Sanchez , who took control of the mixer right after Farina.
Sanchez's first track made everyone in the club look to the booth, unfortunately not because of the song, but due to the excruciating volume. For most of his set, he had the gain cranked way too loud, distorting the sound and shredding eardrums.
Luckily, they kept the downstairs lounge open, where we fled to hear some of the local DJs throw down some tracks. Mario J and Teeloo's Kitchen were holding court down there, dropping some fine tunes but sometimes struggling to be heard over the massive thump from upstairs.
Many will remember that Boa was known primarily for its crystal-clear sound, which has since been moved to the new location. 270 Spadina has opted to bring in the man behind legendary Montreal after-hours Stereo, Soundman Shorty . He's going to be putting together a high-end analog sound system unlike any seen in Toronto before.
Too bad they decided to open before it was installed, so we had to suffer through a rental system that was loud but unrefined.
Jellybean a no-show
NYC's Jellybean Benitez was slated to play Footwork Saturday night but cancelled at the last minute. Andy Roberts and Nick Holder ended up filling in for him, and quickly made the crowd forget their disappointment. Great sets from both of them, straddling the deep and the jackin' ends of the spectrum. In the future, though, the club should probably post a sign at the door when someone cancels, since at least a few people in the club thought they were hearing Benitez.