I hope the summer is treating you all well. We had a late start to it here in eastern Canada…it seemed like it didn’t arrive til about 3 weeks ago, and now the days are getting shorter already. While I will miss the warm weather I can safely say that I won’t miss the sun starting to come out at around 4am every day. Nothing is worse for a nocturnal person than summer. You’re sitting there at 4am minding your own business and suddenly the sky is getting lighter….it really reinforces the fact that you’re a weirdo and that you keep strange hours..
When we left off last month I was heading for gigs in Greensboro, N.C. and in Ottawa for Canada day. Greensboro was a bit of a strange one. The day before the event I saw 20 pages of posts on a local messageboard hyping up the party, so I figured it was going to be rammed. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. I’m not sure what exactly the final numbers were, but I’m comfortable with saying it was less than I expected. Slower nights can be kind of interesting though, as there’s less pressure and you can try out some newer stuff that you’re not quite familiar with yet. As an aside, while driving to the venue in the hotel’s car we got extremely lost and I was almost late for my set. This resulted in us bombing around the streets of Greensboro with little to no regard for posted speed limits in an exact replica of a London taxicab. Why they have London taxis at a hotel in Greensboro, I don’t know. I am, however, please to report that we were driving on the right side of the road. In other minutia, I tried Coca Cola’s new “C2” beverage. Being a longtime borderline compulsive Coke drinker who’s recently switched to Diet Coke, I was anxiously awaiting the launch of C2 to see if perhaps it could be the substitute for Black Gold that I’ve been seeking, as Diet Coke just doesn’t “take me there” in the way the original recipe does. I am disappointed to report that C2 is probably the blandest beverage in the history of beverages. It tastes like bubbles and gives you the burps. Atkins be damned, I want flavour!
A few short days later was the 30th, and the big Canada Day blowout in Ottawa. My good friend Raf, along with his partners, threw one of the best parties Ottawa has seen in years. Ottawa, being the capital of Canada, is always a total zoo on Canada Day. The party took place at VIBE nightclub, which is the same venue that used to be Atomic back in the day. I experienced some serious déjà vu walking in to that room and looking up to the booth and seeing Marty Villeuneve up there DJing. Marty and I Djed together at Atomic every Saturday for well over a year, so it really was like “going home”. The fact that many of the old Atomic management and regulars were back in Ottawa for the holiday also added to the feeling. When I walked in at midnight it was already bumping on the dancefloor and Marty was dropping bombs. Armin Van Buuren came on at 2am to a room full of people screaming his name is if he were the 5th Beatle. I’ve played with Tiesto before and I have to say, no one inspires such rabid dedication amongst their fans like these two. Well, maybe BT. Perhaps a showdown of some sort could be organized…a steel cage match…3 groups of fans enter, only one group leaves...something to think about….One way or another, I played 5am-8am after Armin, which was a very interesting and challenging thing to do. Playing big records pitched way up was the order of the day and bombs from this night included Kris Avedon’s epic record “Spite”, which I’ve been playing for months but hadn't up til that point had occasion to play from the very beginning yet, Matthew Dekay’s “Behind Secret Borders” which has a breakdown so big it could raise the dead, and, to finish the night, Sasha and Emerson’s “Scorchio”. I loved that record like Oprah loves KFC when it came out a few years ago and wore out a copy right there in that very room. It was a very special moment when it broke down and people heard those little guitars…so many old Atomic people were there. There were definitely lots of memories floating around in there. I think Raf got a little bit wispy-eyed, but it might have been due to the cheap bourbon..8am came very early and, it being Canada Day and all, the celebration continued for a good 2 days or so with some marathon loft party sets and a surprise gig at a small club some friends run thrown in for good measure.
Tonic in Rochester, N.Y. was next up on the 9th. I was really looking forward to this night, as several friends have had good times playing there recently. I was also stoked to DJ with the most excellent Jonathan Hart from Proton radio. Tonic is a cool looking old loft space that is a restaurant by day and a club by night, with a huge and beautiful rooftop terrace. Upon arriving at the club at 11:30, we noticed that the majority of the crowd was outside enjoying the lovely weather, so I was faced with a difficult decision: DJ inside on the good sound system with a smaller crowd, or play outside on the small kit but with the larger crowd. After some deliberation it was decided that I’d play outside. As I was heading to the booth to begin, the sound system shut off. Whoops…toasted amp. That made my decision very easy so I headed inside and played 2 hours or so in the main room. Some people were very into it and had obviously come for the music, but there was also a very high turnover rate on the dance floor which made for a very erratic set. After the club closed the promoter and I made an attempt to find some after-hours shenanigans but, finding only a euchre game in progress, we cut our losses and called it a night. The next day Jonathan, his lady friend and I drove from Rochester to Toronto to catch Steve Porter and Sasha DJing at the Guvernment. Lots of good friends were in town for the night, some I hadn’t seen in a while and the rockin TO party posse was in full effect as well. Porter threw down a wickedly groovy warm up set, even managing to toss in Basement Jaxx’s “Rendez Vous” to a very appreciative crowd. Sasha played very well also. Good times were had by all present and I have to say it was, all told, one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while.
The following weekend was Columbus, OH and Aria in Montreal. I had really been looking forward to the Columbus date since it was booked a few months ago. I met Michael (the promoter) and Aaron (the resident DJ) there last winter while touring with Sandra. We got along smashingly, and Aaron invited me back for his birthday party. Aaron played a nice pumping warm up set full of Steve Porter records. Speaking of pumping, I feared greatly for Aaron’s stomach, as he consumed enough tequila shots during his short set to inebriate a small army. I played 2 hours to a fairly up for it crowd, although it would have been cool to have rotated the DJ booth 180 degrees, as the real party seemed to be in the VIP area behind the booth. Aaron disappeared for the better part of the night and I was sure he was off making some calls on the white porcelain phone, but apparently he had been off having a liver transplant or something because he showed up in the booth at closing time still with cocktail in hand. A herculean effort on his part for sure. I had been kind of sick all week so once the club closed, I took my leave while Aaron headed off in search of after-hours shenanigans. All in all he had a good birthday and heard some new music he liked so I’d say it was mission accomplished.
After what seemed like a really long travel day I was back home in Montreal by 11pm Saturday, leaving me a few hours to chill out and go through records etc. in preparation for Aria that night. I had a lovely 5am-8am slot, which is pretty much primetime in a Montreal after-hours. The Ottawa crew showed up at my apartment at around 4am and we headed down to the club, where I was very pleasantly surprised to see a lot of the Stereo regulars out. The first and third hours whipped by, but, strangely enough, the middle hour seemed to take forever. I was playing a lot of newer stuff that I wasn’t 100% sure of, and, it seemed to drag on a bit. The last hour was fun though, and that made up for my slightly "off" feelings in the middle. Some older records which made a revival this night were: the Mainframe remix of Stylus Trouble-“Sputnik” and the Futureshock remix of Luke Slater-“All Exhale”. I should also give props to Aria for having one of the coolest and most helpful sound tech/DJ booth guys in North America.
I’m on my way to Toronto right now for the first night in my new residency at System Soundbar. I’m really excited, as Toronto has a group of some of the most musically clued-up people in North America and I’m looking forward to having to push myself to keep them entertained. Tonight’s show is with Sandra Collins. We haven’t played together in a few weeks now so I’m excited to see what kind of mania tonight will hold.
In closing, it has come to my attention that my good friends and occasional cellmates Grayarea have also started doing a diary here on ivibes. I’ve noticed that I’ve already been named in it once. I’d like to take this opportunity to categorically deny any and all activities they claim I’ve been involved in with them, unless of course its, say…teaching children to read or something else as equally socially conscious.