Make It Funky promotes breaks parties around the city, so it seemed safe to assume that Mat the Alien would play contemporary breakbeat records as headliner for the party Saturday night on the top floor of the El Mocambo . Instead he played a set dominated by classic funk, spinning much of it off old 45s but cutting and scratching his way through the material in such a way that you could easily be fooled into thinking you were hearing modern remixes.
When DJing records with live drummers, it's always a struggle to mix tightly, but Mat made it look easy, rarely letting more than a minute play before transitioning to the next track.
His technical skills were no surprise, considering he's been a judge at DMC turntablist competitions for the past five years. Thankfully, instead of giving in to the urge to show off his fast fingers, he used his talents to put together a set that was musical and funky, rather than just flashy.
Much of the upstairs of the El Mo still looks improvised and in transition, but it's slowly coming together as a half-decent venue. There's now a back room with a separate sound system and bar, which gives it more flexibility for promoters and doesn't seem to have taken much space from the main room. In fact, unless someone points it out to you, you probably wouldn't even know it was there.
Many happy Returns
Return To New York celebrated one year of eclectic electro/rock parties Friday night at the Mod Club Theatre , with special guests Tommie Sunshine and JD Samson (of Le Tigre fame).
RTNY is sort of a worldwide party franchise, started by 80s icon Arthur Baker in London, and hosted locally by AD/D . Part of the original concept was to have people from well-known bands DJing alongside actual DJs -- a nice idea but one that often results don't-quit-your-day-job performances.
Fortunately, JD Samson, though maybe not a technically innovative DJ, still managed to rock the crowd quite successfully. Granted, playing Hollaback Girl won't win her any underground cool points, but the crowd on the dance floor sure ate it up. So much so that the stage became its own dance floor crammed with random partiers, to the point where you wondered if security were going to freak out and start throwing them back into the crowd. Surprisingly, they didn't.
Tommie Sunshine is better known for DJing than Samson, even if his long hair, beard and sunglasses look more like a tribute to ZZ Top. Despite his more developed technical skills, it looked like Samson got more of a reaction from the crowd, possibly because of the rock-star factor but also likely due to her willingness to play big, recognizable pop tunes.
Not so goods
Started off Friday night at Supermarket , where resident John Kong warmed up the crowd with soul, nu-jazz and funk in preparation for an appearance by the Montreal-based duo the Goods (aka Andy Williams and Scott C ).
By the time Williams stepped up to the booth, the place was quite busy and ready to get down. Perhaps the team had another impression of how mellow the event was going to be, because instead of upbeat jazzy sounds they decided to focus on quirky and generally sleepy instrumental hiphop, making little effort to mix between tracks.
This might have been okay for a little while, but it became evident that the mood was going to last all evening -- fine for a Monday night, but the wrong way to go on a busy Friday after midnight.