Fri, Mar 2
Neon lights up T.O.
Montreal DJ Tiga's Neon parties have become a major part of that city's nightlife over the past eight years, embodying that sleazy electro-house sound that's become the dominant underground club trend of the decade. In case Toronto was feeling left out, the Neon team joined forces with AD/D to bring that vibe to the Mod Club Theatre Friday night.
As we walked into a wall of steam, the electric mood in the air was immediately obvious. During past Toronto appearances, Tiga banged out big, catchy electro tunes, but here he went in more mellow and trippy directions, getting surprisingly close to what some might call trance. He pulled it off, though, holding a considerable crowd until the lights went down at 4 am. He could easily have kept the party going until dawn had it been that sort of place.
Toward the later part of the night, about 20 people ended up dancing around onstage and in front of the DJ booth. Surprisingly, security seemed relaxed about that, although some heavy-footed dancers onstage caused a few needles to skip.
Checked out a party called Scandal Friday night at the Boat and was surprised to find it pretty quiet. Usually this oddball venue has a capacity crowd and a lineup outside, but it seems people are more intimidated by an empty room than a long queue. After poking their heads in, many turned away.
Just as we were about to move on ourselves, an enthusiastic young guy pulled people onto the dance floor and then ran around among the reluctant dancers, herding them like sheep. Bizarrely, it worked - suddenly it started to feel like a party, and those coming up the stairs paid their cover and joined in.
If that guy's not on the payroll, he should be.
Sat, Mar 3
Word started spreading Saturday afternoon that Baltimore's DJ Karizma, still in town from his gig the night before at West, would be playing a surprise gig that night at 99 Sudbury.
Raw warehouse spaces like this often feel more appropriate than upscale clubs as venues for soulful deep house, but the condo boom has sucked up many places that used to hold late-night dance parties. It's still unclear whether this building will remain available as an event space now that there are plans to reinvent it as a health club.
Karizma, best known as a member of the Basement Boys production team, has recently gone solo again and is currently enjoying some success for his Kohesive Productions. These days, his hometown has been in the music press more for the sound known as Baltimore club. It's been around since the early 90s but is only now getting attention worldwide.
In fact, Karizma was once known for that regional fusion of hiphop, uptempo house and booty more than the deep soulful grooves most people associate him with now.
Watching him attack the CD players and mixer, you can see traces of that mix in his approach. He's willing to take traditional house and push it in a more raw and aggressive direction. Those still harbouring doubts about the legitimacy of CD DJing should have seen him work - he could erase the prejudices of even the most dyed-in-the-wool vinyl purists.