A FEW FEWER HYPHENS
All over the world, music critics are praying that someone will come up with a catchier name for all this rock-house-punk-disco-dub-techno-electro-pop stuff. This time, let's try not to name it after a particular night or city's scene (by now it should be obvious that it's a worldwide phenomenon, so not another electro-clash), and despite the obvious 80s references, let's try to stay away from rehashing existing genres. New-new-wave doesn't really roll off the tongue and is too reductionist.
MORE 0s AND 1s
If you haven't been peering into DJ booths this year, it might have escaped your notice that most touring DJs are no longer using vinyl. Get used to it, and prepare to see digital media becoming the norm for local DJs as well. It's more practical for the independent labels and for the DJs, and the technology has suddenly made it possible to be more creative and do more with your music. Vinyl might still sound better, but as you read this the next generation of digital audio is surpassing it in audio quality. I'm sad, too, but there's no use fighting it any more.
BABIES LEADING THE ELDERLY
Every major city in the world now has at least a couple of "open decks" nights where audience members are invited to bring their iPods and CDs for a postmodern combination of the jukebox and the DJ. Indie rock DJ nights are also quite popular, despite the amateurish technique of most of the selectors. For those of us who took the time to learn how to mix, their success is humiliating, but in order to survive, DJs are going to have to learn from this new eclecticism and appreciate the unlikely melding of the obscure and the populist. At least it's bringing a new generation of kids to the dance floor.
Over the past year, competition has heated up in the area of dance club sound in Toronto. For years, the Guvernment's main room was the only one of note, but this year the Docks and newcomer Boa-Redux both raised the bar locally, and System Soundbar is reportedly following their lead. This is good news for Toronto partiers. Harsh, distorted and thin sound has been the standard here for way too long, while New York, Montreal and London all enjoyed legendary systems.
The haze of tobacco smoke lifted this year to unveil the unexpected cornucopia of acrid body odours previously hidden by the toxic fumes. Expect more incense-burning in bars and an increase in illegal and private clubs. As in any prohibition situation, someone will move in to fill the demand, so watch out for more speakeasies.
Depending on what kind of house music you listen to, you may or may not be aware that the sounds of late-80s acid house have been making a bit of a comeback. Hiphouse has also been surprisingly effective on many dance floors, and classic house events have been pulling in crowds while the rest of the house scene has suffered. You're going to hear more of those squealing Roland 303s this year - the sound has filtered its way into techno, house, electro and the indie rock dance scene already, and it fits into that big-room sound surprisingly well.