Chronic's alive and well
Weekly residencies are tough to maintain, especially on weekdays and outside the club district. The folks behind Chronic Soundsystem Thursdays at the Down One Lounge have managed to surmount the odds, though, and it's still going strong after three years of weekly drum 'n' bass parties.
It helps that they've had lots of rotating residents along with regular guest DJs, so there are always new faces behind the decks and on the mic. While the bar doesn't get that packed, the crowd is big enough to ensure that the small dance floor gets lots of use throughout the evening. The sound is actually quite loud for this kind of place, but the bass doesn't really do these tunes justice.
The bar's built a smoking room right next to the dance floor, which is great if you smoke, but it's taken away a lot of floor space. The crowd is younger, and there's a good ratio of girls to boys. The vibe is friendly and casual; this is definitely not a dress code club, and they won't be offering VIP bottle service any time soon.
The music depends on who's booked that week but is generally pretty decent. As at many d'n'b events, the MCing is less consistent and often too loud, but that's the nature of the scene.
Garage works at Flirt
Garage never really found its crowd in Toronto, but the recent rise of grime and dub step has helped build interest in UK variations on hiphop, so it makes sense that the Flirt crew would start throwing parties again.
Saturday night they took over the Embassy for an evening of UKG with some side helpings of dub step and grime. It's a pretty small bar, so it was surprising to walk in and see the space around the DJ full of dancers shaking their asses and cheering on the DJs.
I'll admit that UKG has never really done it for me, but the music here was much better than I remember, possibly because the sound has been around long enough now to have evolved a stronger voice. Chances are it won't be taking over any big Toronto clubs, but these small, intimate events are well worth checking out, if only for a welcome break from the usual options.
It's hard to believe that Bump N' Hustle has been going for a decade now. Saturday night at the Rivoli was just as packed as it's ever been, and lots of younger faces are still discovering the eclectic urban party.
Resident DJs Paul E Lopes and Mike Tull have built a strong relationship with this crowd over the years, which allows them to take the party in many different directions over the course of an evening. They can jump from soulful house to classic hiphop to disco to reggae without ever losing the floor.
If you listen closely, you'll often hear the crowd singing along to the classics, which both Tull and Lopes take advantage of by cutting the volume on the choruses for a call-and-response effect. Hot, sweaty fun.