Thu, Aug 16
I was on my way home when I was reminded that it was Richard Lambert's birthday party at the Social, the Queen West hot spot that he owns. As you might expect, the bar was packed with scenesters and hipsters, as Lambert is definitely the kind of bar owner who fraternizes with the clientele rather than hiding in the office all night.
While much of Toronto has been kind of sleepy on midweek nights this summer, the Social has been hopping. Mondays have been pretty insane, attracting lots of the students who didn't flee the city for the summer, and Wednesdays have hosted a wide variety of out-of-town acts, some much higher-profile than you'd expect in a venue this size.
Fri, Aug 17
Ants in pants
Walked up to the Gladstone Hotel to find the Milk/Garage 416 party in the ballroom already at capacity for their presentation of Spiritual Life Music's Kamati Pinkston. I considered waiting around for a promoter to slip me past the door, but reconsidered after looking at the impatient faces in the paying lineup and the frazzled look of the bouncers at the front door.
Instead, I checked out the Tight Pants party at what used to be called the White Orchid. Those of you keeping track may know that the former karaoke bar turned indie dance mecca changed owners recently. It's currently in a weird identity limbo while the new owners (some of the same people as Neu+ral) decide what to do with it.
In the meantime, changes are happening gradually, starting with a new sound system that sounds much tighter and cleaner than the previous piles of speakers.
Tight Pants was hosted by James Laf, who's back in Toronto after a spell out west. In the past, his local events were more house-focused, but things have changed since then, so this outing saw Will Munro dropping an eclectic set of underground disco classics and obscure electro-pop.
Lots of people used the Olympics theme as an excuse to pull out 70s athletic wear and leotards, which must have looked bizarre to any randoms walking into the place.
Sat, Aug 18
Calgary isn't really the kind of place you associate with hotshot DJs, but somehow the Smalltown DJs have overcome that image to build a reputation across Canada and the States for their eclectic, genre-bending sets.
The duo were in town rocking out in the Drake Underground after Stinkmitt's set, and quickly got down to business, showing the room what they're capable of. Each had his own DJ booth set up onstage, which allowed them to mix in and out of each other at breakneck speed. One minute it was a classic rock anthem; then, a few seconds later, a big clubby beat was slammed in behind it; then, all of a sudden, things went off in some other direction.
It was perfect for this kind of event. Smalltown DJs play enough recognizable mainstream music to keep the Drake's weekend warriors from rushing the DJ booth with Timberlake requests, but they throw in enough underground to keep the hipsters there, and mix it with enough skill to keep everybody dancing.