With the holiday dance season over topped by an off-the-hook "One Man Spaceship" DJ performance by Jeff Mills at Fifth Avenue Downtown Friday, Jan. 5 this is the time when Detroit's clubbers and ravers take a few months off to recharge.
But this year, even in the dreary Detroit winter, a flame still flickers on several indoor fronts. It's happening despite the shuttering of Oslo, the city's most versatile dance club (it closed in December after two and a half dynamic if not stormy years), as well as the loss of weekly rotations at the Majestic Café by soul-funk mainstays Mike X. Clark and Brian Gillespie, and your Subs scribe's own Paris '68 Saturday program, which was abruptly canceled after a 20-month run.
It continues despite the suspension of distribution activity at Submerge Recordings' internationally renowned facility at 3000 E. Grand Blvd. (The building also included a record shop visited by techno musicians and fans from around the world.) Submerge has quietly moved its operations to the headquarters of its parent label, Electrofunk, on Fenkell Avenue on Detroit's west side. Some of the recent full-length releases distributed by Submerge include DJ 3000's Migration, Galaxy 2 Galaxy's UR Presents Galaxy 2 Galaxy: A High-Tech Jazz Compilation and On Another Level by Los Hermanos. Of course, Submerge's best-known group is Underground Resistance, which was begun by Mills, Robert Hood and "Mad" Mike Banks. The production, the remixing, the appearances at European festivals and the willful obfuscation and "electronic warfare on the media world" remain intact. Stay tuned for more news as it seeps out here and on the label's Web site: submergerecordings.com.
Show us the cash
Money's tight in this impoverished city, and the people who make the music are often the same who consume it. To paraphrase techno innovator Derrick May, in Detroit there ain't thousands of beautiful kids with money waiting to throw down cash to come see your ass DJ every weekend, or buy your latest track. But solid performers and consumers of dance culture do exist, and they continue to flourish here. What to do to keep it alive and kicking amid the worst urban economy in the nation? The roaming party, like the rave scene that spawned it, is back. This week it could be at a gallery like Finite or CAID, next week at clubs like the Works or Labyrinth. At the best events, promoters are paying more attention to sound and lighting, trying to keep costs down for fans, and generally using the events' mobility to everyone's advantage.
Proof comes in a wide-ranging series of shows that begin this Friday, when Paxahau welcomes Troy Pierce and Marc Houle back to town. The two are part of the digital band Run Stop Restore with former Detroiter and Minus label mate Magda. That minimal techno threesome also started their own sub-label, Items & Things, in 2006, while Pierce was blowing up all summer behind his nasty club monster, "25 Bitches." Windsor native Houle released an acclaimed full length, Bay of Figs, the same year. Joining Pierce and Houle is Paxahau resident Rich Korach. At Esko, 201 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-962-3000. Doors 10 p.m. $5.
The last time the Hacker played in Detroit was 2000, at the now defunct Motor. He performed that night with Miss Kittin, his former partner in electro lunacy. At the time, their more stripped-down U.S. counterpart was the Ann Arbor group Ectomorph. Brendan M. Gillen, one of Ectomorph's founding members, has since moved to Detroit's southwest side, and his DJ alias BMG will lend support for the Hacker and Interdimensional Transmissions colleague Perspects (aka Detroiter Ian Clark), who will perform live. With installations by avant-fashion group Infinite Dimensions. At Labyrinth, Saturday, Jan. 20. 1703 Cass Ave. at Bagley, Detroit. Doors 10 p.m. Presale tix $10 at Spy, 4470 Second Ave., Detroit, or at star67.com.
That same night, Detroit promotions group Organic welcomes legendary spiritual-tribal house artist Osunlade. Born in St. Louis and influenced by the sounds in Chicago's clubs, he eventually made his way to Los Angeles and worked with Patti LaBelle and Freddie Jackson before moving to Europe. Chicago's Jerome Durradji joins Osunlade with Organic residents Mike Huckaby and Michael Geiger for years two of Detroit best, most underrated DJs, regardless of genre. Saturday, Jan. 20. At Finite Gallery, 1370 Plum St., Detroit. Doors at 10 p.m. $10.
The following week, a comparatively new venue that some will remember by its previous name Centre Street in Harmonie Park will feature hot minimal producer Ryan Crosson, who in the last year has recorded as Berg Nixon for Minus and released tracks on Cologne's Trapez and Telegraph records. Crosson will play a live set, with Mike Ransom, Israel Vines and Milieu doing a three-way DJ tag. The show is sponsored by Detroit-based People Mover Productions. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the newly dubbed Grand Central Lounge. 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313-963-1300. $5.
The weekend promises to get even crazier. On Friday (Jan. 26), former Detroiter Alan Oldham now splitting time between Chicago and Berlin heads a strong cast of performers at the Expansion party. Oldham has been making music under aliases like Detroitrocketscience and Hardsignal since the early 1990s, but will perform this night under his best-known moniker, DJ T-1000.
Also appearing: Bryan Zentz, Bileebob featuring BlackEchoZone, DJ Psycho, Psychobilee and SelfJupiter. At Masonic Temple, 500 Temple St., Detroit. Doors 10 p.m. $12 before midnight, $15 after.
On Saturday, the Masters of the Universe take over Eastern Market for a Detroit-style techno-electro-house-drum 'n' bass, hip-hop, ghetto-tech rave. C'mon, where else on the planet are you going to find that?
Special guests include Swedish banger Christian Smith, the Detroit Grand Pubahs (led by Paris the Black Fu, now based in Switzerland), the UK's Ed Rush and Optical, Kevin Saunderson and DJ Godfather. Expect trippy lighting, lasers and other visuals. At Bert's Warehouse Theatre, 2739 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030. Doors 8 p.m. $20 before 10 p.m., $25 after.
Still hot on the shrinking regular residency front are Unaffiliated Thursdays, where resident em-j teams with Paxahau DJs and others weekly at Sakana, 22914 Woodward Ave. Sass has moved its monthly program from Oslo to Finite, where it will convene next on Jan. 27, while Auxetic's Sunday Beats resumes dayraving at noon the next day (Jan. 28). Expect minimal mayhem by em-j and special guest Sassmouth, who brings her frolicsome naughty party straight up 1-94 from Chicago. At the Buzz, 546 E. Larned St., Detroit; 313-962-1800.The Subterraneans is a column devoted to Detroit dance culture. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org