Fri, May 30
Almost three decades into his DJ career, Egyptian Lover finally made his first Canadian appearance at Wrongbar as part of the old-school-themed Activator party. Despite the fact that most in the audience hadn’t been born when he recorded his electro-hop hit Egypt, Egypt, anticipation in the room was running remarkably high, as was the sweltering temperature.
The sweat-drenched audience roared with approval when Egyptian Lover and his hype man, Jamie Jupiter, took to the stage to unleash some pounding high-energy proto-hip-hop and breakdance classics on the crowd. As a turntablist, he favours simpler, classic tricks over flashy lightning-fast contemporary styles, but they still impressed. One of the highlights included manually rotating one record in reverse in perfect time with its forward-playing double.
Many moments came close to kitsch, which is an unavoidable part of representing the original electro era. Dance routines, call-and-response shenanigans and live rocking of the 808 drum machine were cheesy, to be sure, but in a gloriously fantastic way.
The folks at Wrongbar appear to have taken heed of last week’s complaints about lighting in this column; they’ve toned it down a bit and are experimenting with various effects. Not that we’re complaining too loudly that they put most of their budget into their sound system – at the end of the day, that’s a more important part of a music-focused club.
On the subject of sound, in order to better protect the neighbourhood from the booming bass, they’ve built a second set of doors at the entrance, which means the bouncers have to make sure that one set is closed before they can open the other. Keep this in mind next time you try to force your way past them before they’re ready. We know you’re very important, but so is everyone else, so wait your turn, hipsters.
Sat, May 31
With all the noise being made about indie-rockers-turned-DJs and electro-house speaker-shredding club music, it’s easy to forget that Toronto still loves its good old-fashioned funk parties. No better event illustrates this fact than Footprints’ sixth anniversary party at the El Mocambo, which brought in Bobbito Garcia (also known as DJ Cucumber Slice, Bobbito the Barber, Kool Bob Love and too many more pseudonyms to mention).
Garcia is best known as the co-host of legendary NYC underground hip-hop radio show The Stretch Armstrong And Bobbito show, and for his obsession with sneakers and basketball. At this event, hip-hop took a bit of a back seat in favour of funk, Latin and obscure dance-floor oddities. He had his share of jaw-dropping moments, but you could see by watching the room that not all his tangents worked consistently.
Luckily, the second floor of the El Mocambo has a separate back room where the Footprints residents were holding court for the faithful all night long. As entertaining as Bobbito was, it was the locals who stole the night. Not only do they know their crowd’s tastes better than any visiting DJ, but they’ve also all honed the particular skills needed to play a whole night of eclectic pre-drum-machine dance music and make it flow.