My week in the clubs
Turns out the El Mocambo’s new home at the Tequila Lounge at Bloor and Bathurst isn’t half bad as a spot for techno. In fact, the reaction from fans at Friday’s Monolake show was overwhelmingly positive. Speaker-huggers in the crowd were particularly happy to count the 16 bass bins spread throughout the space.
But the biggest surprise is that the venue is neither a tacky dance club nor a grimy rock dive. It doesn’t seem particularly suited to the punk rock program the El Mo is known for, but glitch house felt right at home in the sparsely decorated room.
The first live performer of the evening was local producer Naw, who has trimmed his live set-up down to his laptop. His sound has gravitated toward the clicks and glitches of laptop techno, emphasizing the rhythmic, rather than melodic, aspects of his programming.
This works in his favour, as the increased minimalism brings out more of the latent funk. Having said that, the intelligent techno scene is hardly known for its dancing shoes — not much movement was seen until the headliner, Berlin’s Monolake, took the stage.
The live Monolake experience is much less Spartan and academic than the recorded output — Robert Henke actually broke a sweat bouncing around manically behind his computer. By venturing outside simple four-on-the-floor rhythms, he got more of the crowd, which by this point was fairly sizable, moving.
The low, distorted rumbling coming from the speaker stacks last Thursday came across as a bit more avant-garde than what was expected at Peroxide, Will Munro’s new electro-trash monthly.
Sure enough, the sound wasn’t actually the music but the bumbling owners of Club 56 trying to plug in the turntables. Thankfully, they gave up after 45 minutes and let Munro continue with the CD players just as the dark basement started to fill up.
Definitely a different kind of party than we’re used to, Peroxide is probably the only place to hear indie-electro sex goddess Peaches played next to Felix Da Housecat’s electro-pop house, along with punky new-wave disco and a smattering of acid house.
While it’s not exactly a retro night, many partiers do opt to dress up as their favourite 80s fashion nightmares. The crowd includes many art scene regulars as well as fashionistas. Though not promoted as a gay night, it does draw a large gay and lesbian presence.
The two-year anniversary last Saturday of Promise, located in the new warehouse space in the back of Aria, definitely had a post-rave vibe — cartoon animals on the walls, abstract projections and a crowd that was still showing up at last call. Fortunately, however, the factors that pushed many away from the scene in the first place were absent.
Instead of sketched-out teenagers lying in the corners, there was a full dance floor of at least semi-coherent adults. Instead of speedy rave anthems with chipmunk voices, the music tended toward deep, trippy, dubby house.
Andrew Allsgood set the tone early with a smooth but eclectic set of broken beat, deep house and dubby goodness. The versatile DJ plays around town fairly frequently, highlighting different aspects of his sound depending on the night.
Following Allsgood were Blissom and Eric Downer, who spun a blistering set of house and techno on four turntables. Often, the four-turntable thing is a gimmick that doesn’t really help the music, but in this case the result was impressive. They’re both technically skilled enough to create a smooth but ever-changing wall of sound without letting the mix degenerate into an unfocused mess.