Since Footwork opened, I've heard it compared to the legendary Toronto nightclub Industry. I've always thought that was off the mark.
Saturday night, however, the comparison seemed accurate for the first time. Industry was substantially larger, of course, and was primarily an after- hours club, but the steaming room packed with smiling faces felt surprisingly like a miniature version of the iconic club.
It probably helped that German tech-house DJ Steve Bug was at the decks. He's one of the few touring DJs who can make techno feel sexy and welcoming in a smaller room while maintaining the spooky weirdness that defines the genre. Asses were shaking all the way back in the lounge area, and it was hard to find an empty spot on the dance floor.
What makes Bug special is his ability to play a long set of unknown and unreleased tracks that somehow feel nostalgic without ever succumbing to obvious retro references. This keeps the trainspotting DJ nerds happy but doesn't alienate the ordinary partiers who just want to dance. Rather than constantly reaching for the futuristic, he channels a vibe that can be described as timeless.
There were moments that were dark and edgy, but he also didn't shy away from tracks that would be more at home in a soulful house set. It's this diversity that has helped him build a dedicated fan base here that appears to be growing with every visit.
Queenshead's surprise package
Last Thursday afternoon word started spreading that the Juan Maclean would be making a surprise DJ appearance that night at the Queenshead Pub for the weekly indie dance party Shack Up as a warm-up for his gig Friday at the massive Kool Haus .
As the day wore on, rumours spread that LCD Soundsystem frontman and DFA founder James Murphy would also be throwing down a few tunes, as well as their touring DJ Shit Robot . Word was they were all itching to DJ at a more intimate venue than they've been playing on this tour.
It's a good thing it was all unannounced and unofficial since the rumours proved true, and the Queenshead tends to get close to capacity even on a normal Thursday.
Maclean was on the decks early and might be the first person ever to play early-90s house music on that sound system. He dropped some interesting selections, but many tracks were a little too "big room" to fit into the vibe of the event.
Shit Robot also favoured the sounds of early house but focused more on the weirder moments in the genre. By this point, Murphy had been spotted in the corner near the booth, so we shelved plans to check out the official warm-up party for their gig ( Club Filth at the State Theatre ) in favour of finding out what he was going to play.
It turns out that Murphy is somewhat of a fiend for disco, which he mixed up with some classic rock and other oddities. Not much of a mixer, but neither is anybody else who plays there, so no one really minded. It's possible that they all intended to show off their technical skills, but unfortunately the turntables at the Queenshead are barely functional and hardly ever used, so everyone's set was plagued by records that skipped.