Fri, Apr 18
The first sunny summery weekend of the year is a bonanza for bars that have patios and are smart enough to open in the afternoon, but the opposite is true for dance clubs. Seems that most of Toronto spends the day in the sun drinking beer, so by nightfall many are exhausted and content to stay home.
The Hotstepper guys hadn’t thrown a solo Garage 416 party for a while, so it must have been disappointing to see Revival only half full as headliner Jerome Sydenham took the stage. Stragglers flowed in throughout the night, but it was a far cry from the capacity crowds they’ve traditionally enjoyed.
Musically, Sydenham was playing more on the techy side than he often does, rationing out the soulful vocals and classics amidst darker, chugging rhythms. Some good moments, but the atmosphere was too laid-back for the crowd to really connect with what he was playing.
Sat, Apr 19
Stopped by Wrongbar late afternoon to check out the Red Bull Academy-sponsored lecture by Diplo, but arrived to find things running behind schedule and bright, clear skies beckoning outside. My spies reported that had I stayed, I would have heard some of the highly anticipated punk-rock-dancehall-reggae tracks that he’s been working on with UK producer/DJ Switch. Exciting stuff, to be sure, but so is a sunny day after months of darkness and snow.
Returned in the evening to check out the actual party and was surprised to find that the club was not nearly as packed as you’d assume, considering that advance tickets sold out almost as soon as they were released. Later on they gave up on absent Red Bull Academy guests and let in some of the patient partiers waiting outside, but even then it never felt jammed.
Diplo’s mixtapes and online DJ sets have historically been very strong and in some ways era-defining. In comparison, his live sets haven’t always lived up to that promise, but this time around he struck a good balance between dropping the hits we expect and new music. Unfortunately, the crowd never really went off the way you’d hope.
Decided to bike east to Footwork to see if James Curd was having any more luck rousing Toronto from its sunshine-induced slumber. Curd is best known for his work as part of the Greenskeepers, a quirky Chicago-based band that tread some weird middle ground between traditional house, rock, funk and electro. As a DJ, he tends more toward proper dance music, although he still manages to slip in some unexpected flavours with the four-on-the-floor thumping.
Unfortunately, as we found everywhere this weekend, the expected crowds were presumably fast asleep at home. The partiers present clearly enjoyed themselves, but it would have been a different party if more people had actually made it out.