It's 1am in Boston early Sunday morning, we're at Good Life on Kingston Street, and the downstairs dance floor is full -- fuller than full. DJ DERRICK CARTER has the people jumping all around. Hands rise and pump the air. Heather, whom this writer sees at many house music events, comes up to me and thanks me for bringing Carter's stuff to her attention (on FB of course).
Friday night's SAEED YOUNAN performance was balm to those dance music fans that have had their fill of techno, techno, techno all the time. Booking Younan's seductively flirty "tribal" sound into Bijou, currently Boston's techno temple -- the club's allowed him to drop his sound; too many clubs require DJs to conform to theirs -- hopefully signals a big change.
When this writer arrived at RISE two nights ago, at 3 a.m., to see Italy’s PIRUPA, make his Boston debut, there was a long line waiting to get in; inside, both floors were packed to capacity. And no wonder. Pirupa, in just three years of work, has, according to his bio at Resident Advisor, already scored three Number One downloads at Beatport.
In just a very few years, the UK's NICOLE MOUDABER has moved into the top ranks of performing DJs and re-mixers; she also collaborates now with Victor Calderone and Carl Cox, and her bio adds that Danny Tenaglia himself is now working with her in studio. For house music and techno it doesn't get any better than these; thus her Boston debut, at Bijou last Friday night, was a top date for this city's knowledgeable fans.
Of all the many DJ BORIS sets this writer has seen, his stint at Bjou on Friday, September 21, was the strongest. Though his sound has changed strikingly, from classic, dainty-footed "tribal" to a booming, deep techno, the new rhythms fit. By this move he has, smartly, followed the lead of DJ Chus and Victor Calderone, with whom Boris often works in studio, and his set at Bijou, though not as strikingly original as the sounds of Chus and Calderone, showed mix ingenuity and mastery of form.
For anyone who has heard his work -- and there is a lot, on four CDs, from Blossom in 2003 to last year's Impermance -- AGORIA'S gig at Julep on Thursday night, September 20, was one of the most anticipated house music performances of the season. Would the Lyon, France resident, as a DJ, live up to the smooth, Euro soundscapes and robust, reverb rhythms that distinguish his track productions? After all, this writer has seen top-ranked producers come from Europe to Boston in DJ mode and crap out.
LAURA JONES was a new name to this writer when her appearance at the "Futured" series of DJ gigs at Julep was announced; yet when her gig took place on Thursday night, she was greeted by fans who knew her stuff well and loved her for it. She lived up to all of that love, and then some -- it converted this writer too. Listening to Jones' tracks at Beatport, I found them, with the exception of Maceo Plex's remix of her "Love In Me," to be dry and samey, nothing I much cared to play again.
Ever since he rolled out his new sound a few years ago -- train motion and flight take-offs -- VICTOR CALDERONE'S dance music has been a study in rhythmic romance. Playing to an almost completely full dance floor at Bijou this past Friday night, he played a love trip that moved from acceleration to cruise control and which settled into two grooves at one time: a high octave that sounded up, up, and away, and a low frequency rumble that trekked way down to the bottom of it all.
CRAIG MITCHELL, perhaps the Boston area's most soulful house music DJ, proved again at RISE on Saturday night that he well merits his reputation as the best in show. In a more than four-hour set he played both sides of his art, edgy evocations of mix equipment music and classic, 1990s house music send-ups.
Standing -- and dancing, often -- at DJ DEKA'S left side during his 90-minute set at Bijou this past Friday night, this writer often thought back to what blues lyric master Willie Dixon wrote and that Howlin' Wolf and Koko Taylor sang, about partying, in "Wang Dang Doodle:" "We're gonna bust out all the windows, break down all the doors.
Chus + Ceballos,
the A-list DJ/production duo from Madrid, Spain, dropped a set at Royale Thursday night as
strong and imaginative as any I've seen them do in Boston. Beginning precisely at midnight, Chus
Esteban and Pablo Ceballos laid down a train-track choogle as classic in tone
and progressions as those of 1950s R&B - and as up-to-date in surface
textures as an Instagram.
Boating out to Boston on a rainy and foggy Saturday night might well have been a lobsterman’s run -- this writer has gone on many such. But this time it was a DJ run, featuring many of Boston and Providence’s finest each dropping one-hour sets (well not quite: more about that later) on about 200 very happy, very damp people.
If Dizzy Gillespie's signature was "Grooving High," then STEVE ANGELLO'S theme at Ocean Club Marina bay Sunday night was "venting high." The Swedish House Mafia stalwart dropped a set -- on a crowd 1,500 strong -- that lived up to the hype, and then some. He exceeded himself not by marvels of mix-boarding -- many fans accuse him of playing pre-mixed sets and swore that that was what he did in this performance too -- but by delivering a message in his music neither superficial nor out of school: that no matter how pent up your day-to-day life, no matter how frustrated, or regretful, or love-longing your soul may feel, you can conquer it all by just letting go, venting everything, and lifting your arms, body, and all up up and away.
"Distinctive drive balanced with a sense of warmth and soul," is how CASSY'S bio at SoundCloud describes her sound as a track producer. At NAGA this past Thursday night, that is what she dropped in a much-awaited two hour set that had a less-than-full dance floor shaking booty and cheering.
Using two CD players and mixboard, Ms.
Photos by Michael Freedberg
Perhaps it is unfair to downgrade the performance dropped by the very young Swedish dance music track-maker ALESSO at Ocean Club, Marina Bay, the night of July 4. Alesso -- real name Alessandro Lindblad -- turns age 21 just this week, an age more suited, one wants to think, to arena rock or indie punk than to the worldly intricacies of great dance music.