Tue, Nov 6
It was surprising to see such a small crowd at the Mod Club for Swayzak , whose past appearances have drawn much better numbers. Techno is a late-night genre, but it was Tuesday, and the end of daylight savings has a way of draining people's motivation to go out at night.
Their mellow, moody beats sounded great on the Mod Club's crisp system, and even though the mood in the room was a bit sleepy, the crowd still demanded an encore and received it.
Hopefully, next time they grace Toronto with a live performance, it'll be on the weekend, so it can be a proper party.
Wed, Nov 7
This week's edition of Hissy Fitness at the Social focused on some of dancehall reggae's more unlikely offspring. The first live set came from Toronto-based Bonjay , who put rhythms somewhere between modern dancehall and broken beat behind vocalist Alanna Stuart 's soul-inflected covers of indie rock anthems and original material. A bit hard to imagine, but it makes perfect sense once you hear it.
Up next were the South Rakkas Crew , based in Orlando and Toronto and recently signed to Diplo's Mad Decent label. After producing beats for some of dancehall reggae's biggest artists, they've recently garnered attention outside those circles for their anything-goes approach, which some are calling electro-dancehall. Basically, they use the dancehall framework to tackle any kind of beat from hiphop to rock to electro. Again, it makes more sense when you hear it. Check out their sleazy raved-up electro-hop remix of Lily Allen if you need proof.
Fri, Nov 9
After playing a gig at the Silver Dollar, I strolled down to the Boat , where the Gang of Two brought in Detroit's Shank as the special guest at their monthly Bang The Party night. He played in a similar vein to the theme of the night -- proto-house, post-disco, electro-house and early hiphop. Good vibes all around, but it was soon time to head down to the Reverb for the Pusher party.
Pusher brought in acclaimed minimal techno producer Thomas Brinkmann for a live performance, and he was already rocking the laptop when we walked in. He wisely avoided his deeply experimental and academic side, instead sticking to dance-floor-friendly excursions that went over well with the packed house.
Special mention should go to those in charge of aesthetics -- the projections were well conceived and executed, and the hanging fabric installations looked great.
Sat, Nov 10
Toi Bar 's weekly Vintage party brought in Detroit's Jeremy "Ayro" Ellis for a very intimate live performance. Ellis specializes in that jazzy broken beat sound, and when he performs live amazes crowds, using his fingers to tap out complex polyrhythms on his sampler and then moving over to the keyboards and vocals once he's established a loop.
He moved through a variety of influences during his set, from Latin to hiphop to house, all of it stamped with his distinctive personality. A great performer, and a real treat to see him in action up close.