IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE EVERYTHING ALRIGHT
The pressure was on last Wednesday night at Solar’s One-year Anniversary Party at Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig. Not that you could tell from the sold-out sweat-box of a crowd that had come to hear Detroit’s best known techno entities, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson take it to the stage on four turntables simultaneously for only the second time in their careers. But, to area party promoters and scene kids alike, Detroit techno has taken it on the chin lately. First, there was the unfortunate bust of an all-Detroit Techno Thanksgiving party, an underwhelming Christmas night party, and a modestly attended New Year’s Eve party. And even though some of Detroit techno’s first generation have been sensitive to any criticism of their efforts in the Detroit area, the truth is, lately they’ve done as much damage as good to the already-nervous scene, hampered as it has been by a police crackdown.
But last Wednesday proved Detroit Techno was not only still relevant to the younger generation of area party kids, but also — as May and Saunderson’s deck wizardry showed — still vital. Detroit Techno desperately needed a win, and it got one, even if it was at an away game. May bobbed and weaved over his mixer, tweaking levels and EQ’s while a more stoic Saunderson kept the track selection up and the beat a hard-house mix of groove and gusto. May, ever the new wave adventurist, took a solo with a record of the "This is my house" speech — speeding it up and slowing it down like an overnight campus radio jock getting all experimental — while Saunderson took a tribal techno track and turned it into a DJ-age drum solo by punching out frequencies and building it back up into a crowd-pleaser.
The highlight: May doing an impromptu mixer-knob edit when Saunderson dropped his E Dancer hit, "Velocity Funk," which sent crowd and DJs alike into a hell-yeah yelling frenzy.
As much as the Detroit guys proved they can not only fill a house but rock it, too, May and Saunderson may have stumbled onto a way to take techno’s greatness to the stage.
BRAVER NEW WAVES
Hipster clothing company Made In Detroit is entering the airwaves with "Detroit Technology," a weekly, on-air mix show sponsored by MID’s more raver-friendly Detroit Technology line. The show will air from 1-2 a.m. Saturday nights on 89X (88.7), and for its inaugural voyage, will feature Planet E main man and area techno-and-beyond production wiz Carl Craig. If Craig’s Midnight Funk Association-inspired set Christmas night is any indication — he dropped old favorites such as the B-52's "Mesopotamia" — expect as much a headphone experience as a dancefloor one.
Who knew when St. Andrew’s Hall began its Three Floors of Fun — which 10 years ago meant No Floors of Band — that a decade later the night would be the grand old man of Detroit club nights (if, of course, you don’t count the embalming fluid-injected longevity of the City Club)? Hard to believe that the night that began as a nothing-better-to-do night for nascent altrockers has become the city’s techno and hip hop stronghold with old school Detroit techno DJ Mike Huckaby as resident DJ. But for this Friday’s Tenth Anniversary, St. Andrew’s gets back to Three Floors’ roots with 89Xs Gnyp harkening back to the night’s proto-modern rock era beginnings along with other blasts from the past(s). Fear not, oh baggy-panted ones, area retailers have jumped in with clothing giveaways and as always the old folks’ modern rock crap will be on its own floor so Huckaby and crew can do high BPM damage as usual. One question, though: Will the Charm Farm reprise their 1991 "Smells Like Teen Sprit" cover? More info: 313-961-MELT.
KICKIN’ HTML LIKE ROCKIN DA BELLS
Indie hip hop is anathema to major-label image-based hip hop, and not surprisingly, indie hip hop has sparked up its own digital underground via the Internet. Hip hop indie Real Entertainment’s new site lends plenty of html-programming to Detroit rappers such as the 5 Elements and Dirty Dozen’s Proof as well as Money Mogul, Infamous PMC and others. Great graphics, focused agenda, short and sweet audios. Geez, the majors could learn a lot from this.