For all the flak the Detroit party scene has taken, Saturday night’s Comin’ From tha D: Ghetto Tech party at One X proved that the city can party legally and, most importantly, still have fun doing it. Credit promoter Jon Layne and visual artists Crashbox with setting the it’s-a-party-not-a-rave vibe by breaking up the cavernous space with video monitors and partitions.
Despite the potential for a clusterfuck, the DJs seemed comfortable with the three-ring circus format. Michelle "The Punisher" Herrmann played both jungle and techno in her opening two-hour set; Matrix Records kingpin Sean Deason opened his set with his what-the-hell electro remix of the Inner City classic "Good Life," while chimeric techno enigma Anthony "Shake" Shakir dropped his trademark "Shake shit," a genre-smashing mix of jazz, funk, electro, hip-hop and anything else to shake up the BPM counts.
But the big revelation of "D" were the live PAs. Keith Tucker, Aux 88 founder and Model 500 musical director, turned in a set of slammin’ electro that even a short power outage couldn’t dampen, while the strange brew of Ectomorph’s eerie, dubbed-out 808 tinkerings and DJ Godfather’s delay-effected turntable scratching made for robotic voodoo that had even indie rock scenesters such as Dion "Godzuki" Fischer ready to abandon their guitars. Spacelings and Bassheads’ set was wonderfully schizophrenic, as John Ryan and Ron Zarkin proved themselves every bit the kids in the candy shop of their 24-track studio, which they basically resurrected just for this gig. Even the incongruous presence of booty DJ Flex and two strippers, posing for pics for Details Magazine photogs for an upcoming ghetto-tech booty scene article, seemed to fit right in with the party’s anything-goes mood. Upstairs in the VIP room, Planet E’s Carl Craig and Hannah turned the empty apartment space into a house party — spinning on decks set up in the kitchen — before Ann Arbor’s Carlos Souffrant took over and turned it out, while VIP’s ranging from DJ Bone, the visiting Q-Burns (who had played Motor earlier in the night) mingled with the likes of WDET FM fatale Liz Copeland and theplayground.com’s Pete Franco. By 4:30 a.m., things wrapped up as DJ Shortstop still rocked it electro jungle style in the anteroom as lawyer Barry shuffled folks out, prompting only a few grumblings from an ex-Record Time employee who should find nicer things to say about Detroit (or at least this party).
For the 750 or so who came, it was a milestone, not too ravey, not too nightclubby. As an exhausted Jon Layne said afterwards, "The focus was to bring all kinds of people together."
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Chances of this weekend’s "True Masters" party going down with headliner Eminem are neither slim nor shady, as now the rapper’s label, Interscope, has decided to seize the homecoming gig at a underground party as a publicity op . Seems that even though it took a little wrangling with Eminem’s manager — University of Detroit-Mercy Law grad Paul Rosenberg — who pushed for a gig at the State Theatre, promoter Ty Manica not only secured the rapper for his first hometown appearance (if you don’t count him inducing a near-riot by showing up at last month’s Afrika Bambaataa gig at St. Andrew’s Hall), but has managed to convince Interscope of the street-cred photo-op to be had by having the MTV poster-boy perform with hometown rap scene pals Bizarre and Da Ruckus. Reasoned Manica, "It made sense; you listen to his record an all he talks about is raves."
But as anyone who caught last weekend’s "Behind the Music: Vanilla Ice" special on VH-1 can see, a little time out of the pop chart limelight and back in the underground may be just the thing young Em needs to avoid the once-you-cross-over-you-can’t-go-back curse the Iceman suffered. Says Manica bluntly, "Eminem needs this shit. Motherfuckers see his ass on MTV as selling out, so what better way to bring him back to Detroit than have him play an underground party with his boys."
Now all Manica needs to do is secure a space, which will be determined by ticket sales. "So far the first 1,200 I put out sold out in about an hour, so I’ll see what happens with the next 800 or so."
Manica said even MTV is expected to cover the event. So much for underground.