Fri, May 9
Orlando-based Toronto expats South Rakkas Crew last played their hometown on a mellow fall Wednesday night at the Social. This time they played to a full house at Wrongbar, and the crowd was much less tentative when they unleashed their electro-dancehall magic.
Opening once again were Bonjay, whose new tracks sound great and went over well. Their combination of soul, indie and Caribbean influences makes for a unique sound that has tons of potential for crossover into other markets. Let’s hope they get into the studio soon and get some of this shit down on tape (or hard drive).
Maybe because the South Rakkas Crew are coming into the indie dance scene from hip-hop and dancehall, they have a refreshing take on how to rock an electro crowd. Whereas so many producer/DJs play the same anthems every night, obviously reading the same charts, these guys seem oblivious to those expectations and just play what they like. That can be a crapshoot if the audience just wants to hear the hits, but thankfully everyone in the room appeared quite happy to get down the South Rakkas way.
Sat, May 10
To help promote the upcoming Mutek festival, the Drake Hotel hosted an Avant-Mutek party featuring a live set by Pheek, a Montreal-based techno artist. Entering into its ninth year, the Montreal-based festival has become one of the most important yearly events in techno, or at least the brainy post-rave side of the scene. While we’re quite happy that it exists and flourishes, we can’t help but wonder why no one has managed to do anything on a similar scale in Toronto.
After all, underground dance music has historically had a stronger scene here (except during the disco era), and despite the best efforts of various condo associations, we still have an excellent nightlife infrastructure to accommodate a large festival. Considering how much our local economy depends on tourism, you’d think there’d be more interest.
Pheek started his set by fiddling with a curious-looking grid of illuminated buttons that flashed and moved to the beat. In one corner of the room, Yamaha set up a demo version of the device, called the Tenori-On, for the curious. Fun toy to fiddle with, but it didn’t take long to figure out its limitations. Still, it is a fantastic piece of eye candy and an innovative way to help audiences understand what “performing” live electronic music actually involves. Not surprisingly, Pheek didn’t pick up the toy again once he settled into his groove. Good set and good turnout, but not mind-blowing.
Ended up at a late-night party in an unused west-end storefront, which was rudely interrupted by the cops just as it was getting going. Once again, they were much mellower than at that infamous Comfort Zone bust, but considering how many other relatively low-key spots they’ve hit over the past few weeks, it’s hard to see this as anything but another temporary crackdown.
Anybody else wondering what’s behind this recent show of force in the party scene?