ONE NIGHT IN DETROIT
Every so often a night happens in Detroit that could take out any night in any other major city, full of such amazing and original music that you cant do anything but be proud that it comes from this city and then you can struggle to catch it all. Saturday night, Feb. 19, was just such a night. It was truly a challenge for me, with so much important music going on, coming from such different aesthetic points of view, such very different scenes within the overall mosaic of Detroit electronic music, to soak it all in. But I tried!
I began my evening at Motor and the Planet E records night. It was Reclooses live debut under his own name, and I couldnt miss that. They had the main room set up "in the round," meaning the four-sided stage was at the center of the dance floor, with each act (two live shows and the DJ) facing different directions. This type of thing is perfect for getting the crowd to pay attention to what is happening on stage, but divides the vibe of the crowd, making it hard for the kind of party that involves actual dancing to happen.
Yet, when I walked in, Mike Clark (aka Agent X) was rocking the crowd with a deeply Detroit selection of eclectic, soulful, dance floor house. In the study, amid the red velvet walls, the equally velvety grooves of Hannah filled our ears with distinctly nonelectronic, eclectic, soulful funk. Everything from Afrobeat to uplifting 70s jazz, funk, soul and beyond. Words fail me when trying to describe the depth and beauty of what she was playing it hit me right in my chest with warmth in the middle of this too-cold winter.
Meanwhile, back in the main room, Recloose was getting ready to go on. All sorts of heads were in the crowd, as well as a whos who from Hans and Scott Z to Amir and Jon Layne, even the ever-deep Mike Banks was there. Matt Chicoines Recloose show was a solid first show, with some new material featuring the live, liquid guitar playing of John Arnold (formerly of Jazzhead). There was some live scratching with effects and some fantastic moments from John, but mostly the show was sequenced, and I hope in the future to see more live interplay between Matt and the music. And the in-the-round setup led to more people standing and chin-stroking than dancing. Carl Craig came on stage to do a Paperclip People show wearing only his trench coat and boots with football makeup under one eye, but, in my attempt to catch all the sounds, I was on my way to the detroit contemporary.
When I arrived at dc, I was blown away, not only at the response (the place was packed!), but at the perfect realization of a concept. That night the ideals of the label Ersatz Audio became perfectly clear, with the blending of fine art, quirky electronic music and commerce. There was no pretense it wasnt like an art show it was an art show. From the inscription on the wall in the lobby, to the gallery upstairs (fine photographs from Nicola Kuperus, paintings by Matt Gollnick, Phil Burke and Adam Lee Miller) to the multimedia work of Pilot Pictures, it was an exquisite setup. Much of these ideals and progressions reflect the attitudes of the Detroit techno pioneers. But that really doesnt matter this was Ersatz Audios night. In the main lobby, records and CDs were flying out of the merchandise booth while Adult. rocked the crowd with a show that put them above everyone else (the stage was a good 5 feet high for Adams spot Nicolas spot was about 7 feet off the ground). "This is not faceless techno," I heard Miller say later that night. When Adult. played, there was no room to move, so the crowd spread out a bit when Perspects (aka Ian Clark) began. He played behind a curtain with light projected from behind and a camera catching his bodys interactions with his gear, with that image being projected at numerous points in the venue. While Adult.s music is tough and terse with harsh voices and synthesis, Clarks Perspects is much more liquid and funky, with rich-style synthesis. This was his debut as Perspects and, judging from this show, the world has a lot to look forward to. Perspects will next perform with Heart and Hand (dancer Jeremy Kallio) sometime soon in Detroit (keep your eyes glued to this space for further developments).
Now go buy the CD at www.ersatzaudio.com.
After the Ersatz show was over, the crowd headed to Sharifs. So did the Planet E crowd. Sharif has these private parties that are what I imagine old disco loft parties were like, and they easily rival any Detroit club night. Scott Zacharius was on the turntables playing deep grooves as the crowd came in and celebrated what was one of the most positive nights ever in my Detroit experiences, as everybody got together and cured the February blahs with deep music.