Fri, Mar 16
Bang the party
Andy Capp of Ottawa expats the Gang of Two held down the fort at the Boat for their monthly Bang The Party shindig, an eclectic evening of disco, electro, punk funk, hiphop and weirdo dance beats.
Despite the awful weather, there was a fairly decent turnout, and most of the crowd was on the dance floor all night. The Gang's not quite as indie-focused as some open-format-style nights, and they put more effort into mixing. This keeps the focus on the groove instead of that chaotic mishmash that often occurs at this type of party.
Sat, Mar 17
Bonjay, another pair of Ottawa imports, seem to have settled into the Toronto scene with ease, and attracted a capacity crowd to the Fuck Faces party at Sneaky Dee's.
As a live act, they're somewhere between a band and a DJ set. DJ Pho mixes between their own dancehall-reggae-inflected covers of indie rock hits and a selection of electro and urban-influenced tracks, with vocalist Alanna Stuart alternating between crowd-hyping duties and soulful singing over the rugged beats.
Stuart has a good grasp of how to work a crowd, keeping off the mic until she's needed and not cluttering up the vibe with unnecessary chatter. DJ Pho seemed to be having some minor technical issues, but the handful of flubbed mixes didn't put much of a damper on the mood.
There's a huge dance music history associated with the Black Market Records brand, so it makes sense that it's been establishing its new club, Crosstown, with pioneering DJs like Derrick May, one of the true originators of techno.
Early in his set, a skipping turntable gave May problems, but he recovered quickly and favoured CDs for the rest of the night. Compared to past appearances, he wasn't at the top of his game, but it was still a stronger set than the average DJ's. He dropped few of his trademark anthems, which kept it fresh, and the crowd was willing to follow whenever he felt like going deeper.
The buzz behind the dubstep sound has been building steadily over the past year, and, like any global trend, there's a Toronto version. The Dubstep Dance at Tiger Bar saw a crew of local DJs pack the bar with music heads eager for a taste of this peculiar UK fusion of hiphop and dub.
Borrowing the heavy rumbling bass lines of drum 'n' bass, dubstep comes alive when it's played loud. Unfortunately, the sound system wasn't up to the task this particular night. In contrast to this event, the weekly Wednesday night dubstep party at Thymeless is much lower-key but benefits from the massive reggae sound system, which complements the tunes more effectively.
Sun, Mar 18
Friday's unfortunate weather trapped Booka Shade in New York City, forcing them to cancel their Toronto date. Thankfully, their schedule had a hole on Sunday, so the event was moved ahead a few days. While many fans were undoubtedly unable to make the postponed gig, the Mod Club was still busy, and the atmosphere was closer to a full-on Friday than a sedated Sunday.