Fri, Oct 12
The lineup stretching up Augusta for Jazzanova's Alex Barck at Supermarket made it was clear that, even though electro tends to get all the attention, the soulful side of dance music still has a strong fan base. Inside, the joint was packed and the dance floor hopping, and some subtle projections set the mood.
Those hoping for a set of dusty old jazz funk were likely disappointed, though, since Barck was in more of a house mood. Granted, the house he plays is steeped in organic rhythms and warm melodies, so none of the jazz-funk heads seemed too dismayed.
Following Barck was Roland Appel, best known for his work with Trüby Trio and Fauna Flash. Like Barck, he also focused more on house than funk, although in his case he concentrated a bit more on classics, decent tunes but pretty familiar to deep house heads.
Neither DJ was particularly inspired on a technical level, and both had a few shaky mixes here and there. Overall, they're both competent at mixing records, but their skill sets seem more suited to cutting between seemingly unmixable records than long blends between house tracks.
Sat, Oct 13
Two Detroit heavyweights played gigs within a five-minute walk of each other, and between them we saw the range of that city's significant impact on dance music.
First up was DJ Godfather, headlining the Fuck Faces party at Sneaky Dee's. In many circles, Detroit is known as the birthplace of techno, but Godfather's one of the pioneers of ghetto-tech, which is essentially the Motor City's take on booty. Like its cousin in Miami, it has hyperactive bass-heavy breakbeats and lewd pornographic lyrics, taking as much from hiphop as from techno.
Godfather borrows from hiphop the way he mixes the music, cutting in and out of tracks quickly, scratching furiously the whole time. That turntablist quality is a big part of his appeal, although at times the tricks distract from the actual beat.
A bit further west on College at Toi Bar, Mike Clark (aka Agent X) played an intimate below-the-radar gig as part of the weekly Vintage party. Clark was one of the original founders of the legendary Underground Resistance crew, but his style has moved far from that cold electronic sound. At this gig, his soulful deep house was more in the vein of New York City than Detroit.
This might be confusing to some, but you have to keep in mind that when Clark started DJing, the artificial lines between Detroit, Chicago and NYC had yet to be defined. As a youth he studyied the masters of the scenes east of his hometown, as well as immersing himself in what was happening in his vicinity.
There wasn't a huge crowd out for the party, but it was enough to fill up the small bar. The dance floor was going off, although many of the usual heads must have overlooked the event.