Headman plays with his knobs at Wrongbar, Saturday, September 20.
Thu, Sep 18
Living in Sin(den)
UK producer/DJ Sinden was a touch underwhelming last time we checked him out, but his remix work has been kicking ass over the last year, so it seemed worth giving his return to town at the Social another shot. Unfortunately, once again his set inspired little more than a shrug. There was nothing wrong with it; it was just completely typical of what we've come to expect.
Sure, everyone yelled and threw up their hands when he dropped his big hit, Beeper, but it sounded the same in his hands as it has every weekend over the last year when played by every hipster DJ in the world. It's a great track, to be sure, but it loses its power sandwiched in the middle of a set of similar-sounding tunes. That sound itself is one of the problems - the over-compressed and distorted attack pounds when it comes out of computer speakers, but in a club setting it sounds boxy and small.
In contrast, AD/D's opening set travelled through a much wider variety of moods and sounds and had a more satisfying, sexy bounce. Too bad it was for a mostly empty room that only filled up just before Sinden took over the decks.
Sat, Sep 20
Head(man) of the class
What is with the hipster kids waiting until 1 am to show up at the club? Yes, dance music's natural home is the late-night scene, but you'd think if you're dropping good money on tickets you'd want to catch more than the tail end of an event.
Unfortunately, this routine meant that Philly psych-disco band Pink Skull took the stage in front of an empty dance floor at Wrongbar. The spectacle of a full live band playing dance music quickly drew people away from the bar, and soon enough the place filled up with late arrivals. Eventually, it turned into a proper party vibe, but by that point they were on their last song.
Zurich's Headman took to the turntables following Pink Skull and did his best to transition from the concert vibe to full-on party mode with an eclectic set of dance-floor oddities. He played some good tunes, but the momentum had already been lost somewhere in the changeover between band and DJ.
Sun, Sep 21
The shiny, futuristic Circa was an odd venue for the ManifesTO closing party, seeing as the kind of hip-hop the fest focuses on is more about dusty funk samples and anti-bling lyrics than synth-powered mainstream club bangers. On the other hand, Toronto has few options when it comes to big rooms, and when legends like Pete Rock and DJ Premier are laying down a DJ battle, space is more of an issue than a warm vibe.
More than a few folks in attendance couldn't help but remark on how much of a sausage party this crowd was, which is one of the curses of underground hip-hop. A sea of dudes standing still and bobbing their heads isn't everyone's idea of a good time, but in theory this is supposed to be about the music, right?
Premier and Rock have lengthy resumés as producers, and the casual tag team set-up was fun, but ultimately their trip through three decades of hip-hop looked better on paper than it sounded in the club. Local hero Starting from Scratch's warm-up set was a much better example of how to play a big-room party mix.