Noted by house music fans for being a Chicago club kid whom Danny Tenaglia, no less, encouraged to become a DJ, HONEY DIJON -- real name Honey Redmond -- has more than lived up to whatever it was in her that Tenaglia saw. It was not always so; her early work, though fierce enough, lacked breadth of vision and mastery of colors.
When, almost halfway through his two-hour set at Bijou on Tuesday night, ROGER SANCHEZ tooled Ultra Nate's anthemic "Free" into his complex mix, he cycled the song's declarative "free to do what you want to do!" over and over. It was a message -- and more than a message. Given the rapid rush of his mixes, the quick changes from track to track, the hub-bub of riffs, beats, screaming noises, talk, and horns -- many different voices, pathways, destinations, and purposes -- Sanchez was demonstrating, musically, to the full floor of dancers at Bijou just what it sounds and looks like when everyone is free to do what he or she wants to do and doing it in the same life arena.
How does a DJ and track producer, one of whose YouTube vidclips has over 12 million views get booked into Cambridge's Phoenix Landing, where the dance floor accommodates maybe 200 fans? Yet 12 million views it is, for Berlin, Germany's Michael Vater, who DJs as PHONIQUE. The vidclip in question is "Feel What You Want."
House music and techno's most senior DJs continue to deliver the strongest sets, as true to the music's roots in blues, funk, soul, and psychedelics as they are adventurous. Ali Shirazinia, who as DEBFIRE has mixed and produced, as boldly as anyone, for more than 20 years -- first as half of Deep Dish (with Sharam), and now solo -- dropped a set at Bijou Friday night both abstract and passionate.
It is a given that a set by Madrid's DJ CHUS + PABLO CEBALLOS will feature their special, "Iberican" take on "tribal" house music. In their two-hour drop at Bijou on Friday night, low octave statements in the shape of samba and batucada rhythm -- the duo's bottom line for a decade and more -- powered the action from start to close.
Though many dance music club owners are said to tell their DJs what to play, it certainly cannot have been the case at Bijou Boston's Gold Room on Thursday night; because the set that Bavarian-born, 31-year-old DANIEL BORTZ dropped sounded extremely unlike any that this writer has heard. Here was not the stomp and edgy harshness of techno, not -- despite some online track purchase sites' characterization of him -- the sentimental softness of house music.
Open on Sunday night because of the Monday holiday, Bijou Boston hosted Germany's MARTIN BUTTRICH for a two-hour set played to a dance floor as full of revelers as this writer has ever seen it. Even at the 2am close time, the floor was nearly full of bodies grooving and arms upraised.
The massiveness of Buttrich's sound was not expected at all.
The headline is not mine, but I've adopted it because it nails Detroit DJ LEE CURTISS' sound. I found it in a YouTube posting of Curtiss' "Haters Haterz," a track appropriately sleazy and one that he dropped at Bijou Boston on Friday night. This was a two-hour set that moved at 124 BPM, a sleazy speed indeed, a low and sumptuously toned rumble pie overtopped by a shifting meringue of frosty, sugary detail.
Despite of our city's dispiriting 2am closing hour, which snuffs the club music experience way too early, Boston is home to a great many house music and techno DJs of note. WILL MONTONE is one such. Like many, he was a fan first; he even worked at Boston's beloved Boston Beat Record Store. He's also a track maker.
Making his first performance visit to Boston in his long and masterful career, Lisbon's DJ VIBE dropped a 105-minute set on a Bijou audience that included quite a few of the city's best-known DJs. They were there to see, at last, one of the originators of "Portuguese tribal," as distinctive a sound -- sultry and bluesy, racy, fierce and low-low down -- as any in the entire 26-year saga of house as a genre.
On Saturday night, no fewer than seven of Boston and Providence's more prominent house music and techno DJs brought "BassWave," their traveling showcase of DJ styles to Good Life. The first BassWave night took place about a month ago in New Bedford, ground central for much of our area's DJ activity; it returns there, to Bar 908, on New Year's Eve.
FUNKAGENDA'S two-hour set at Bijou on Friday night surprised many, disappointed some, and sure fooled me. True, that given how rapidly and often his sound has evolved these past five years, there was no telling what he would play this time. Last year at Gypsy Bar he played an entire set of fast, synth-y "progressive" house, which was itself a big shift from the bluesy, down-tempo house music that first made the UK's Adam Walder famous as Funkagenda.
With deep house master JIMPSTER on the bill, it would have seemed certain to find the Phoenix Landing dance floor packed full Wednesday night. It wasn't. Even at midnight there was openness in the dancing area. Thus the music, when it came, seemed to move across the floor freely; to occupy as much of it as the fans who did show up to see, hear, feel, and taste one of house music's most accomplished track makers prove his chops as a mix-board performer.
ROLANDO ROCHA, a DJ and track maker much more veteran than his youthful appearance, dropped a two-hour-plus set Thursday night at Cambridge's Middlesex Lounge. The floor was almost brim-full of fans who demonstrated that they knew his work even though Rocha is hardly a household name even in dance music.
At RISE Club on Saturday night, veteran UK DJ and track-maker DANNY HOWELLS dropped a five-hour set on an almost full-house dance floor. Actual five-hour sets come rarely to Boston house music fans, but when they do, they separate the masters from the blasters. Two hours, a reasonably dextrous DJ can usually manage without losing edge; not so with a five-hour performance.