Fri, Apr 20
Too few DJs
There was palpable excitement in the air at the Opera House in anticipation of Nite Versions, the electro-rock band led by the two Dewaele brothers behind Soulwax (whose last album is also the namesake of and inspiration for the Nite Versions concept) and 2 Many DJs (their eclectic DJ-oriented identity). Their Toronto gig last fall left people talking for weeks, and the room was primed for a second round. Then something went wrong.
Everything seemed normal as the band took the stage and let loose a big wash of Moog synthesizer sweeps, but then, just as you'd expect things to really kick in, they left the stage and the DJ started playing again. Thinking it was just a tease, or a level check, the partiers kept dancing or went to the bar while they waited. And waited. And continued to wait.
Turns out Stephen Dewaele had unexpectedly bolted, and despite the efforts of his manager and bandmates, couldn't be convinced to return to the stage. While this was going on, David took over DJ duties as half of 2 Many DJs, but it was obvious that this wasn't an acceptable substitute for most of the crowd. Promoters AD/D are trying to work out some kind of makeup date, so if you paid to see Nite Versions, you're encouraged to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up; AD/D's ticketing system is forcing them to do this on the honour system.
A truly bizarre night. While these guys have a fair amount of hype behind them, they're still nowhere near the point in their careers where they can get away with Axl Rose-style tantrums. By the time it was clear that the show wasn't going to happen, it was too late to move on to other events. Most did their best to enjoy the DJing, but it's hard to stay cheery while roadies are packing up gear from a show that never happened.
Sat, Apr 21
Detroit's Carl Craig is widely respected as one of the true innovators in electronic music, emerging out of the tail end of the first wave of techno in the late 80s to develop a musical identity and body of work independent of fickle trends and the often-disposable nature of dance music. It seems more accurate to describe him as a musician first, rather than a producer or a DJ, though you could argue that it's precisely his musician mindset that makes him such an enjoyable DJ and influential producer.
His set at Footwork saw him taking a stroll though various parts of the dance music spectrum, jumping across eras and styles in a way that someone more focused on being a DJ would probably avoid in favour of a smoother mix. But that's what made it great. Likewise, his productions over the years are sometimes a challenge to work into a DJ set, which is also what makes them stand out in the mix. (And really, wouldn't you prefer a great song over a mediocre one with a long drum intro?)