Thu, June 5
Late-??90s-?period French house has enjoyed a revival in recent years due to the indie dance/bloghouse scene. Most people think of Daft Punk first in connection with the famous “French touch,” but the biggest anthem from that period was Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust, a short-?lived band that featured producers Thomas Bangalter (half of Daft Punk) and Alan Braxe.
Braxe was the guest DJ at the Social this week, and the kids were out in force despite the fact that most hadn’t even gone through puberty when his biggest track was released. Unfortunately, as a DJ, he was nothing special. Competent, but I expected more.
Fri, June 6
Got to the Rivoli nice and early to claim a spot on the patio, but like every bar with some licensed sidewalk space, it was packed. Luckily, some nearby rooftop patio spots are less well known, so we killed some time and came back later for Vintage’s presentation of Chicago deep house and disco aficionado Jerome Derradji.
Too bad spending all evening sweating it out on a patio tends to wear you down. As a result, the back room wasn’t nearly as busy as we’d hoped, and many of the familiar faces from the city’s deep house dance floors were MIA. Good tunes and good vibes from those who did make it out, but a party needs people.
Sat, June 7
Phatblackpussykat were once well known in Toronto for throwing hot, sweaty soulful house events, but over the past couple of years they scaled back as the scene changed and head man Junior Palmer put his energy into running clubs. One of the benefits of running things behind the scenes, though, is that he can book his own events at his club, so Toika Lounge was the spot for the Phatblackpussykat presentation of DJ Frankie Feliciano and iconic vocalist Byron Stingily.
Feliciano did a great job warming up the crowd with a creatively mixed set of deep house and classics while anticipation built for Stingily’s appearance. Stingily is best known for his days with the band Ten City, one of the few house groups of that era that crossed over to the mainstream, and the only one that maintained any degree of critical success. His gospel-?inflected falsetto inspired legions of imitators (although some suggest he borrowed it from disco star Sylvester).
As a night for nostalgic singalongs, this hit all the marks. But those looking for inspiring new trends in vocal house must have been bored hearing the same anthems sung live that they’ve heard for the past 15 years.
If soulful house wants to stay relevant, it needs to temper the nostalgia and reach out to the new generation just discovering dance music. The indie rock kids who are just alighting on 90s French house are prime candidates for an education in the genre’s earlier days and original vibe.