vendredi, février 16, 2007

Smile for your Mind


The day began as any morning-after might: I slept in past noon and then rolled out of bed, bleary-eyed but awake. The day itself was pretty calm; I spent most of it writing up the previous night's adventures and doing a bit of cleaning around the apartment. Near the end of the evening, I finally dragged my ass into the shower and got myself together to go out.

Tonight is the big party for Labelle Records, which includes my friends Nathan, Laurent and Clothilde/Fantomette as well as a whole other cast of folks that I have come to know over the past couple of months. I needed to be awake and have energy for the whole evening, which is partially why I allowed myself to sleep in so late today. As midnight rolled around and I was heading out the door, I was wide awake and ready to party. On the other hand, I had made myself a rather substantial plate of hashed potatoes in the interest of providing fuel for dancing, but I just felt overfull. Next time, less fuel.

Smile For Your Mind 2: Labelle Records @ La Scène Bastille

NOTE: since I already have a lot of photos and videos and such, this post will contain the more straight-forward reportage of the event, while tomorrow's post will have some more theoretical discussion.

0h00-1h30: Be My Chose

The artist profile for Be My Chose on the Labelle Records website is only available in French, so I've included a translation below. Also, you can download and listen to three podcast mixes from the previous link, so check'em out. As you'll see in the video clips below, their sets are a bit more intense in a party setting.

Labelle Records' first duo act! Nathan H and Fantomette ("little ghost") are two complementary DJs that know how to set the decks on fire. Their styles sits somewhere between minimal and electro. More than a simple mix, they put on a veritable show. They hold a residence for the "Happy people only" night at La scène Bastille in Paris; each of their performances thrills the audience, touched by their generosity and talent on stage.

As per usual, I managed to make a fool of myself at the door; I was on the list, but I gave my name instead of the name of the person on whose list I was included, and this created a few moments of awkward confusion. Once I got everything sorted out and checked my jacket in the coatcheck, it was about 0h30. There were about 20-30 people in a space that probably could fit 200 people; pretty sparse, but the night was still very young. People usually don't show up in force until 1h30 or 2h00 around Paris. Nonetheless, when I ran across Laurent (and later C.), they expressed concern about whether the crowd would be big enough by "prime time." They had rather stiff competition that night, with Akufen playing at Nouveau Casino and a large ACT-UP Paris event going on as well. As anyone who knows me well can probably attest, it's a true sign of my dedication that I ditched Akufen to see the Labelle Records crew (*sniff*).

Be My Chose's set was great, a bit more dynamic than the stuff available from their profile at Labelle Records, sitting somewhere between microhouse and minimal techno. Although they were the opening act, the crowd grew during their set and they were able to "peak" the room a few times. ("Peaking" probably deserves it's own post on here, but the term generally refers to creating a moment of climax in your set and eliciting a "peak" response from your audience.) Anyway, here's a couple of clips of their performance. The second clip in particular shows a great peak moment in their set.

1h30-3h30: LLC

Although LLC isn't signed to Labelle Records, he's also a resident DJ at La Scène Bastille. I had seen him perform before back in September (at my very first night out in Paris), and the set seemed very firmly within tech-house territory: loud, uptempo and densely textured house beats rather than sparse, clicky-glitchy funk.

The crowd was pretty thick now and everybody seemed to be very enthusiastic about his set. At one point, a petite, thin girl came over to me and asked me about my t-shirt (I had a Pac-Man shirt on). Unfortunately, the combination of slurred speech (hers), lack of French skills (mine) and proximity to the speakers made the conversation rather difficult. Once she realized that I wasn't a native French speaker, she asked about where I was from, what I was up to in Paris, how long I was here, etc. A memorable moment in the conversation was when I told her I'd been here for 6 months. She said, "6 months?! Listen, I got the impression that you were always part of the Parisian nightlife. I see you everywhere!" At this point, she pulled over a couple of her friends and announced to them "Toronto in the house!" (or the French equivalent: "Toronto sur place!"). This seemed to merit handshakes, at which point another friend of hers appeared and said to her, "Hey, isn't this that guy we saw at Le Pulp last night?" "Yeah, totally. I see him all over the place!"

So, in summary, people do notice when you show up. "80% of success is showing up," indeed.

3h30-4h30: HDProject

While my most ardent interests these days have focused on glitchy click-house and funky minimal techno, I have to admit to a long-standing love of all things techno. Laurent a.k.a. HDProject's set started out rather low-key and minimal, but soon fleshed out into a banging, intense set. I was really impressed with his ability to use Ableton Live to perform a laptop set that had the same contours of intensity as a vinyl set. All in all, it was fantastic; even though I was still a bit tired/bloated from my late dinner, I still couldn't help but dance like crazy through most of this set. He was really strong toward the end of the set (see second video clip).

At some point during this set, a short woman in a black dress came over and sat on the stage near where I was dancing, facing me. Clutching a drink and swaying, she was clearly wrecked (i.e., trashed, drunk, pissed, etc). She asked me for a lighter, and then commented on the quality of HDProject's set, wrapping her arm around me shoulders and yelling into my ear. I quickly discovered that she was a laughing drunk; to her, my Pac-Man t-shirt was riotously funny, my smile was riotously funny, the way I danced, the fact that she could barely hold her drink, and so on. A little while later, she regained enough of her balance to get up and dance. She tried to dance suggestively with/against me, but she would quickly get distracted and dance with someone else. This was probably the thing that kept this situation in the realm of "Haha, she's silly," rather than "Sweet Jesus, get this woman off me!" Although she wasn't sober enough to figure out that I was not sexually interested in women, she was also not sober enough to persist in chasing me, so most of my encounters with her were fleeting and amusing.

4h30-6h00: DJ Redock

As I mentioned to C. as we were taking a break from dancing, the English expression for this sort of thing is "big-room techno." Redock started where HDProject left off, kicked up the tempo a bit, and made everything even louder and more frenetic. This set was very much in the style of the "Swedish Techno Gods" (Adam Beyer, Kari Lekebusch, Joel Mull, Aril Brikha) or the second-wave Detroit crews like Underground Resistance (Jeff Mills is one example). Unfortunately, I didn't take any video of his set (I thought I did, but it's not on my camera); on the other hand, I did take some great action shots of him doing his thing. Of all the DJs, he moved the fastest, sweeping his arms or flicking his hands with pretty much every gesture.

I danced until 5h30, and then gave in to fatigue. After making my goodbyes and wishing everyone well, I darted off to the métro station to catch the first train home. The first train home on a Saturday morning at Bastille is a funny place. On the one hand, Bastille has clearly been billed as THE place for nightclubs in anglophone tour guides, because it seemed like 50% of the crowd spoke English. On the other hand, there's a whole lot of crazy going on around there at that time of night. I spent most of my time on the subway platform watching various crazy and/or disinhibited creepy guys try to socialize with hungover English-speaking tourists, who were too timid to say "leave me alone." Thankfully, years of living in one of the crazier areas of Toronto has given me a Jedi-like ability to avoid or minimize these awkward interactions (not that it hasn't betrayed me in the past). A little while later, I'm back in my room, shucking my shoes and rolling into bed.

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