Josh Milan banged out some soulful house and underground dance classics Saturday night at Toika.
Fri, Jul 25
The people behind the Automatt parties celebrated the launch of their new record label with a party at the Shared Loft. As the gorgeous warehouse space started filling up, local hipster dance DJ Cobra Cut stepped up to the decks (or in this case, plugged in his laptop) and unleashed a noisy blast of electro house. Before long, it became apparent that at least some of the noise wasn't intentional. A quick peek at the mixer revealed that he'd plugged his gear into the wrong input, making the heavy metal disco sound more like grindcore.
After the cables were switched around, the sound greatly improved, but the incident brought to the forefront one of the problems with the laptop revolution in DJ culture. On the one hand, it's great that you can start a virtual label like Automatt easily and without crippling start-up costs, distributing product anywhere the Internet reaches. On the performance side, laptops actually seem to be cutting down on technical issues in many situations, but all too often lately the changeovers between DJs have degenerated into cable chaos.
In a non-club setting like this one, technical issues are common no matter what the medium, but this kind of thing happens regularly in proper venues as well. Club owners and sound system designers need to come to terms with the changing needs of DJs and build booths with enough room for computers and hardware, and to develop methods to facilitate patching these tools into the sound system.
Other than minor technical problems, the party was a fun night and a good launch for a new local imprint. Hopefully, it'll succeed in shining a light on more of the young talent emerging in town.
Sat, July 26
Blaze of glory
Garage 416 teamed up with Phatblackpussykat to bring in Josh Milan (aka one-half of soulful house icons Blaze) for an intimate gig at Toika Lounge. Considering Blaze's stature in that scene, it was surprising that it wasn't more packed, although by the time he took over the decks there was a respectable dance floor. Still, had this been five years ago, they would easily have needed a venue at least twice the size, a testament to the generation gap between the hipster kids who've rewritten the rules of house music and the veterans who laid the groundwork long before there even was a rave scene (let alone the current nu-rave scene).
The old guard shouldn't lose hope, though. Even if the "kids" aren't up on all their NYC underground, many are quite receptive to classic deep house sounds. The neophytes I convinced to stop in after their bar jobs loved the tunes Milan was dropping, much to their surprise. The trick is getting around people's preconceptions about house and getting them to realize it's a much larger and more diverse spectrum of music than they've been led to believe by mainstream representations of the culture.