Not Dead yet
The initial plan Friday night was to check out hiphop legend Schoolly D at Gypsy Co-op, but a sign at the door announced that the gig had been postponed at the last minute due to a family emergency. (A makeup gig will be scheduled soon.) Instead, we ended up at the Boat for Doing It To Death, a classic funk and soul party thrown by Wes Allen and Daniel Vila. Formerly a monthly, Doing It To Death had been on hold for a while, and this was originally slated to be a one-off reunion party. But given the good turnout and enthusiastic response, Allen hinted that they may decide to revive the party on a more permanent basis.
Musically, both DJs dig fairly deep in their crates to unearth obscure 60s R&B tunes that haven't been done to death, and the night tends to draw an excitable young crowd. Not a lot of fancy mixing and scratching, but you wouldn't want to see those rare 45s damaged, would you? A good party for those who like their classic soul without the anglophile mod baggage.
Late Saturday night we ended up at a west-end loft space for Blackmarket's presentation of UK dance pioneer A Guy Called Gerald, aka Gerald Simpson. These days, Simpson's packed away the vinyl and turntables in favour of two laptops running studio software, which allows him to remix and improvise tracks live on the spot as opposed to using the computers to DJ or rework other people's material. Usually, this sort of live electronic performance is much shorter than a DJ set due to the amount of preparation involved, but in this case he ended up starting relatively early and playing most of the night, longer than many people typically mix records.
On a technical level, it was interesting to see how he's navigating the line between live performance and studio production, but most of the crowd didn't seem too concerned with that distinction. Except at the front of the dance floor, there was much less movement and energy than there should've been, most likely because many of Simpson's long-time fans aren't up on the raw and tough edge of his current sound.
While previous obligations and a DJ gig kept me away from most of Saturday night's Nuit Blanche, it was impossible to ignore the excitement in the air. Throughout the night art lovers stopped into clubs for a drink on their way to the next installation, and a cab ride through the city later on revealed just how many people were out on the streets enjoying the festival.
Ended up at Night Swim, an all-night ambient pool party in Trinity Bellwoods Park, along with a few hundred other wet and rowdy party-goers and art aficionados. Ambient music in a live context is often painfully dull, but hearing long, directionless drones booming through underwater speakers while floating in a romantically lit community centre at 6 am is just about perfect.