NYC soulful house DJ/producer Joe Claussell 's previous Toronto appearance ended up getting shut down much earlier than planned, which explains why Garage416 and Milk decided to bring him back again so soon last Friday, This time, they staged the event in a venue that is the polar opposite of the dark and sweaty 99 Sudbury warehouse where Claussell often appeared: the airy and romantic Sunnyside Pavilion , a historic walled-in garden that has hosted highlights of the summer party season since your grandparent's generation.
Last year when Claussell played at this spot it was cursed by rain and shut down early due to noise complaints. This year the weather was beautiful, and the booth and sound system were positioned in a way that avoided a repeat visit from the popo.
On the downside, the set-up made the dance floor area much more cramped, and the large turnout, encouraged by the weather, didn't help. Still, the dancers found space to move -- as long as they didn't mind bumping into each other -- and the chatterboxes had plenty of room away from the speakers to share their insights about the world with their friends.
Claussell was in fine form, abusing the mixer's EQ like it had killed his family, eyes rolling back in his head as he went on a journey through dance music history that spanned decades. You had your gospel anthems, your driving tech-house, disco and soul classics, and plenty of that dubby world-beat-influenced house that he made his name producing.
You could tell he would have gladly played for hours longer, but 4 am in an outdoor venue is pretty much as late as you can go in Toronto.
Juan more time
Juan Maclean obviously enjoyed the last gig he played here -- a surprise DJ set (along with tour-mates James Murphy and Shit Robot) at the weekly Shack Up indie dance party, before his set with DFA records kingpins LCD Soundsystem. Once again he asked to play a secret warm-up gig for his show at Harbourfront as part of Beats, Breaks & Culture . Unfortunately, Shack Up is currently on a summer hiatus, so Mikey Apples and Jamie Sin put together a little one-off event at the Beaver Café last Thursday, featuring themselves, Juan Maclean and NNY .
Even with little promotion, the little bar was packed. The hype didn't stop the vibe from remaining pretty casual and social. No guys hovered around the DJ critiquing every mix, and at least a couple of local musicians arguably more famous than Maclean were chilling out.
For most it was just a good excuse to get out of the house on a Thursday night. Maclean played a mixture of obscurities and a few house and techno classics, along with new stuff .
His mixing still isn't particularly impressive, but at least he's making a more serious attempt at it than many musicians-turned-DJs, and you can tell from the songs he plays that he takes dance music seriously.