After a nearly six-month absence from Ann Arbor, Solar, that weekly (Wednesday) showcase of Detroit techno came back to A2s Blind Pig. Celebrating a two-year anniversary after the night had been on pause may seem strange, but its exactly what Ann Arbor needed to cure the February blahs. The crowd packed the bar by 11 p.m., almost selling the place out that early in the night. The mob was diverse from Jive Electros A&R head to heads from Detroit and Ann Arbor, students of the music and of the University of Michigan and all were there to see the boundaries blurred between techno and house.
It was a night of four-turntable tag-team sets. This can be exciting and new for the crowd but, mostly, its overly challenging for the DJs unless they really know each other well (like Kenny Dope and Lil Louis Vega of Masters at Work). The night began with Carlos Souffront and Craig Gonzalez manning the four decks, warming up the crowd and getting the floor moving with prime-time house. As the midnight hour approached, the Detroit Grand Pubahs made their worldwide live debut, with Andy Toth walking over behind the stack of gear and Paris using the mike to engage the crowd. They started the show off with a new track, "Pu Bah Funk," with Paris talking in his preacher voice. They then moved quickly into "Sandwiches" which had the whole place going crazy. We even got a little shot of Paris G-string.
Then it was on to Kenny Larkin and Carl Craigs tag team, with Carl carrying a Kaos Pad and wearing wraparound sunglasses. (You needed it in this club! Someone should tell the Blind Pig to turn the lights down when its time to dance.) It was mostly one DJ or the other playing the obvious hits, and the other doing additional effects.
It was a hot night (literally), hot enough for Solar to make a full-time comeback and apparently thats in the works. But if you feel the fever for the flavor of a Jon Layne party, you can head down to Miami in a few weeks and catch the Intuit-Solar maestro closing out the Winter Music Conference, March 29. The theme of the party is the best of Detroits hip-hop and funk-influenced electronic artists, ranging from Terrence Parker to DJ Assault and DJ Godfather; from Da Ruckus, Paradime and Marquis to Ectomorph and Andrea Parker; Dan Bell to the Detroit Grand Pubahs, Sean Deason and the list goes on. Check the Intuit-Solar website for more info.
SPEAKING OF THE WMC ...
Ever wonder what happens when the international dance music industry gets together for a weekend? Lots of parties, lots of schmoozing and a chance for you to meet the person youve been needing to meet be that a promoter or a publicist or a distributor or a label owner or a fellow artist or whatever. Its also a chance for you to stand by a pool buying very expensive mixed drinks talking to people you never really wanted to meet because you dont really care about the latest trend in California (goth trance? jungle remixes of Korn?) or that the lines outside NYCs Twilo are really that long or Junior just doesnt play like he used to (he never did!!). Nonetheless, its a chance for you to participate in the industry. Last year, Planet E had a party with Dego of 4 Hero in one room and Carl Craig live in the other (this year Planet E will have another party featuring Recloose live). A few years back, Autechre actually played on the beach. And theres always the Zen festival, the traditional mega rave with Rabbit in the Moon and armies of glow stick ninjas (they actually have breakdancingesque circles where they throw down with light sabers and glow stick nunchucks). And theres always the Sunday Midwest party with Terry Mullen, Derrick Carter and a list of whos who from the Midwest playing for a crowd of 1,000 in a 500-capacity club. Its at minimum an interesting experience, and its happening this month, March 25-March 29. More information is available at the official Web site.
Do you make electronic music? Do you wish you could play in front of an international audience and a hometown audience at the same time? Need to get your project booked so that new people get to know you? Or are you so reclusive that no one has ever met you? Then here is your chance to make something happen for yourself: the Detroit Electronic Music Festival coming up this Memorial Day weekend. Celebrating democracy, co-organizer Carl Craig has opened up entries and is accepting demos from one and all. Send your material for consideration to: Electronic Music Festival, PO Box 27218, Detroit, MI 48227.