Tone originally planned to bring Brooklyn's Tony Rohr back in December, but had to cancel the event after the venue fell through. Fortunately, there were no problems with the makeup gig last Saturday at 99 Sudbury , and a warehouse suits the vibe better than a club.
While Rohr is primarily known for techno, the folks behind Tone mixed it up a bit by adding some psy-trance to the bill, which brought out a different mix of people than you see at most techno events. It felt more ravey, but not in a bad way. Rohr's own output is fairly eclectic as well, but generally harder and more aggressive than the tech-house and minimal sounds that tend to get more attention here.
He was playing a live PA, but you could hear that his roots were originally in mixing records. His transitions were just as seamless as a DJ's, and it was easy to forget you were listening to someone perform live.
The Brooklyn techno scene isn't really known for the subtlety of its sound, and Rohr could get pretty punishing at times, but he never approached that mindless jackhammer point.
Not a lot of local promoters specialize in a cross-section of dark electronic music, so Tone may have a shot at carving out a little niche for themselves. Their mission statement also pledges to continue booking live electronic performers, and this is a good time since relatively recent software developments have made it much more feasible for producers to remix their work live.
The headliner at Friday's Return To New York at the Mod Club was another live electronic performer: French electro-house-rock producer Vitalic . His critically acclaimed OK Cowboy album last year was delightfully weird at times, but some of those quirky corners were trimmed off for the live experience, and everything sounded more pumped up and clubby.
There were moments when he came within a hair of cheesiness, but then you'd find your arm pumping in the air even as you were complaining that it almost sounded like trance.
For this event, a group called Chemistry put together a multi-screen video installation that effectively functioned as the club's lighting for much of the night. It was pretty impressive-looking but a bit motion-sickness-inducing if you stared too long at the screens.
While the visuals were good, I overheard several people complaining about the excessive volume. (Thank god for earplugs.) And the lounge on the second floor really needs to be closed off from the main room if they're going to have separate DJs up there.
Stopped by Footwork Thursday evening for the tail end of the Killer Dope party, where special guest Ghislain Poirier was laying down some strange futuristic breakbeats, bouncing between abstract instrumentals and off-kilter but thumping vocal tracks.
The new weekly night has already had several exceptional guests come through, and has a pretty open-ended musical direction -- from weirdo hiphop to electro-house and more. Wonder how its identity will evolve over time.