After-hours impresario Lee Nolastname has been part of Detroit’s third shift entertainment possibilities for years now at the Red Door, as well as working on last summer’s "Afterburner." Now he’s looking to the city’s progressive dance scene for his latest venture, "Transistor," near WSU. Partnering with superstar scenester Adriel Thornton to book talent is a good first move towards ensuring the clientele isn’t just tanning-bed regulars. Says Lee with press-release bravado, "This is dedicated to the often maligned and often overlooked local deejay talent," adding, "basically, it’ll be like an I-saw-them-back-when place for undiscovered deejays." Wow.
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Detroit hasn’t quite warmed up to the cold adrenaline skitter of jungle-drum ’n’ bass as much as other cities such as Chicago and New York have. Maybe the scattered energy and ominous sonic architecture of the UK-spawned sound is so poignant a reflection of Detroit’s rust belt urgency and aching, hopeful spareness that nobody wants to be reminded of it — which would explain the city’s taste in more escapist fare like ghetto-tech-booty’s raunch or house music’s nostalgic utopianism. But as evidenced by UK junglist Aphrodite’s appearance at Motor last Thursday, Detroit jungle is alive and kickin’, even if it seems to have as many deejays-producers as it does fans. Case in point: Todd "SK1" Mullinix’s set of circa-’95 jump-up jungle, which included a new dubplate of freebased-reggae-sounding madness by Ann Arbor’s Todd Osborne — one of a handful of folks paying attention to Mullinix’s set and, when not producing jungle tracks, owner of Ann Arbor’s weekends-only Dubplate Pressure record store, one of the nation’s finest for jungle.
Besides said cozy junglism, Thursday night also saw the launch of the area’s first drum ’n’ bass label, Jungle Bunny Records. JBR’s Michelle Nolastname — no relation to Lee — recorded Thursday’s deejay sets for a mix disc dropping at this year’s Winter Music Conference in Miami, explaining the idea thusly: "You can only get so far mixing in your room; you need an audience to motivate you."
As for the longtime-coming emergence of a jungle label, she says, "I’m really, really bored of techno," adding with a laugh, "You can only see Juan Atkins so many times." Among those caught in the act: Mark Moss, SK1, Drew Nice, Loren Flax, 8en, Anthony S, Whistle Boi, Kruse Kontrol, Matt Eaton and Jerry Abstract. Notably absent was la femme de jungle, Michelle "The Punisher," sidelined from the decks by a nasty ear infection. But if da Pun’s dark track from the upcoming compilation, Coming from the D: Ghetto Tech, is any indication, expect Jungle Bunny to mine the darker, techno-influenced side of d ’n’ b’s sinister rush.
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
Proof the ravers do more than dance: this Thursday’s "Transformation" multimedia night at Motor, "guaranteed to make you look at Motor like you’ve never seen it before." While one hopes that means a crowd free of the Backstreet Boys-lookin’ roughnecks the place attracts weekends, it also means turntable fatale Magda doing her techno thing, Ghost 200 doing live electro-eccentric beats, and visuals by Crashbox. More info: 313-369-0080.
ONE NATION UNDER A ROOF
Carlos Oxholm’s admiralship of Michigan Ave’s One X is already proving itself to be the deep tissue massage the Detroit party scene has needed for some time now. December 26’s "Wishlist" party drew 800 of-age partiers to the 100 percent-legal club space. According to Michelle from Funhouse Productions, whose objective was to prove Detroit could party on the up-and-up, "We even turned away 500 kids who didn’t have ID."
Even a certain bearded lawyer, who makes his livelihood manning the entrance to area raves to fill in the legal gaps and finesse the authorities, admitted One X "may be the way to go," even though the scene’s move to legit spaces could put him out of a job. Plus 8 promoter Tim Price has already taken over Saturday nights, throwing "Teaser" with Michael Gieger last weekend.
As the final tally of New Year’s at the Technology Theatre comes in — cars broken into and stolen, at least one raver injured in a drive-by shooting (!) — it’s about time Detroit party people had a safe and legit place to cut a rug.