Like many Saturdays before, I slept in like crazy and then spent the day catching up on "paperwork." By "paperwork" I mean the surprising amount of office-like tasks that come with fieldwork: answering emails, looking up funding grants, fretting about filing my taxes from overseas, writing emails, catching up on blogs, etc. I also decided to start building a MySpace page in the Music section of things. It's become clear that most of the people I'm working with communicate through MySpace pages--I've even noticed that many big-name DJ's have their MySpace sites maintained by 3rd party professionals. So it seemed like a good idea to get myself installed in MySpace-space.
Anyway, no link to my page yet; I want to fiddle with the settings and put together a decent profile photo. Also, I started working with Ableton Live again, newly inspired to put something together to upload onto the MySpace page. I'll post a link as soon as it's ready! Come on...at least pretend to be excited..
So, after a day of being rather busy doing small things, I started getting ready to go out. Originally, I had planned to go to the Rex to see Rex the Dog (as the link suggests, he's very electro--although I prefer his remixes of The Knife's Heartbeats ). Nonetheless, I wasn't particularly enthusiastic. On a whim, I decided to look up several of other bars I know of in town, to see what they were playing. Batofar? Trance party. Djoon? Some sort of housey thing called The Heat. Le Pulp? Girls night. Le Triptyque? Label-showcase for Shitkatapult records, featuring T. Raumschmiere, Phon.o, and Daniel Meteo.
Bingo!! I hadn't seen any of the Shitkatapult folks since I was living in Toronto, so I was very much interested. Shitkatapult is a record label based both in Germany and in Canada (but mostly in Germany, from what I gather), with an emphasis on the noisier, harder end of minimal techno. Check out their home page (previous link) or Beatport.com for some listening material. But, of course there will be videos below...
Shitkatapult: T. Raumschmiere, Phon.o, and Daniel Meteo @ Le Triptyque
NOTE: Normally, I would include images of the flyer for the evening, but in this case neither Triptyque nor Shitkatapult submitted flyer images to Flyerweb.com, which is where I usually get these images. I suppose this is a lesson to me to check beyond Flyerweb, eh?
0h00-1h30: Phon.o (Part 1)
As you might guess from the header above, Phon.o actually made two appearances that night; he opened the evening from midnight to 1h30, and then picked up at approx 4h30 and finished the night. I won't say too much about this first set, since I was less thrilled with is. Generally, it was downtempo and rather low-intensity, which I suppose is good for an opening set (i.e., sets are supposed to get more intense as the night goes, so this leaves the other DJs some headroom). Anyway, you can compare the video clip I took from his opening set (at the end of this section) with the ones I took of his closing set (last section).
I think I was misreading the clock when I headed out. Normally, I leave around 0h45 to get to the club around 1h15, which usually gets me inside before the place fills up too much. Instead, I felt compelled to leave around 23h45, which obviously got me there waaaaay to early. I took my sweet time walking from the métro station to the club, but when I got there it was still only 0h30. Nonetheless, I could see a lineup at the door, so I went ahead and waited to get in. As I got in line, I passed two men who were having some sort of argument. I couldn't decipher what they were arguing about, but the body language and tonal inflection all pointed toward fisticuffs. Thankfully, the line was short and I got in while they were still escalating.
Entry at Le Triptyque is always free, which is a significant difference from most of the other clubs in town. What's more, they don't try to hide the cover charge in the form of a mandatory coat check (like Le Pulp); the coat check is always optional. Actually, I can sort of imagine an older, burnt-out French leftist dreaming up and designing this place as her/his idea of an un-alienated night club. It's in the basement of an old (19th-c.?) building, exposed brick and exposed iron girders. Most of the adornment on the walls are concert posters for upcoming gigs, each layer piled over the previous one in tatters. Almost 50% of the club's floorspace is dedicated to a chill-out area stuffed with tables and chairs, with the music far enough away to make discussion without yelling possible. The place serves as an "alternative" rock bar between 19h00 and midnight, and as an "alternative" dance club between midnight at 6h00. A-list DJs are too expensive for the place, so you get to discover local talent and lesser-known foreign acts. There are no mirrored walls, few smooth surfaces, no neon lighting or complex décor, and a multiracial cast serving drinks.
Mind you, the place isn't entirely proletarian, either. A pint of beer still costs 7€-9€ ($9.25-12 USD). But if you're not well off, you can still get in free, elect not to check your coat (or not wear one), and buy a bottle of water and refill it at the bathroom sink. Ultimately, I did see a few differences in the crowd: the racial spectrum was more diverse, class differences were more visible (most other clubs maintain a fantasy of "classlessness" by pre-selecting their crowds)--I even saw a few football (soccer) jerseys.
Anyway, I got in and got into the rather long coat check line. As I was about halfway to the counter, I came upon a group of students from the UCParis program, who were also out tonight. Since these students weren't my students per se (i.e., I don't teach them), I suppose this doesn't count as my first time running into my students at an EDM event. It'll happen soon, no doubt! Regardless, one of the students brought me up to speed on the argument that had been going on outside; apparently it had finally escalated to punching and kicking, although I didn't get the details.
After finally checking my coat, I wandered over to the bar to get a beer and promptly ran into S., a friend of mine that I met through Greg about a month ago. After another athletic climb over the crowds around the bar, S. and I made our way over to the dance floor to check out the beginnings of Phon.o's set. S. runs off to check his coat, finds some of his friends, comes back to get me, he introduces me to his friends, and we head back over to the dance floor (yes, lots of back-and-forth). A few minutes into dancing, and toward the end of Phon.o's set, I wandered away from S. and friends and toward the front of the room, to get pictures as well as this video clip:
1h30-2h30: Daniel Meteo
As I was snapping pictures of Phon.o finishing and Meteo starting, a girl standing near me came over and said "Hey, weren't you at Le Pulp a week ago?" Indeed, I was. Then she said, "I saw you on the dancefloor there!"
I had no memory of her, and I had nothing pithy to cover over that fact, so I just said "Genial!" ("awesome!").
After an awkward moment, she acknowledged the awkwardness, saying "Yeah, I have nothing interesting to say about it, I just remember seeing you there."
Recovering I said "How was last Thursday for you?"
"What?!"[the music was loud]
"HOW WAS THURSDAY?!"
"Where are you from?"
"Canada originally, by way of Chicago, living in Paris since September."
As if answering another question, she said, "You know, the reason why you stuck out in my mind was because you had a certain look that was different. I mean, you have this style that is more rock'n'roll, so I wondered why you were there, but obviously you like electronic music." As I pondered this for a minute, she continued, explaining, "Yeah, maybe it's less rigid in the USA or Canada, but there are certain looks that go with certain scenes."
I replied that there are similar genre-specific style codes (thank you Dick Hebdige), but the points of reference are perhaps placed differently. In the US and Canada (generalizing chronologically and geographically from time in Ontario and the midwest US), t-shirts, wide-leg jeans, facial piercings, short hair, baseball caps and running shoes are all useful markers of EDM-lovers (and particularly techno fans), but over here in Paris the uniform is rather different. In many ways, the "look" here is closer to what we might see in a "mainstream" club in the US: designer collared shirts, fitted designer jeans, strappy tops with exposed shoulders and back (on women), long hair (on women), spikey gelled hair (on men), large earrings, expensive(-looking) shoes. Although I still go out wearing a t-shirt and jeans, I haven't worn a baseball cap since I got here, because I noticed immediately that NOBODY wears them to techno events.
The conversation lapsed for a while as we kept dancing and I kept snapping pictures. Then, out of the blue, I realize that I've lost sight of S. and his friends, so I tell my new friend that I'm going to go looking for my friends. "Me too! My friends just abandoned me a few minutes ago. Let's go find them together!"
After a bit of walking around, I found my group first. In fact, I found one of S.'s friends, who told me that they were going to a bar nearby to meet someone. Although I was sort of hoping to stay for Meteo and later T.Raumschmiere, following along seemed like the right thing to do, so I said my goodbyes and followed S.'s friend to the coat check. After waiting for my coat and eventually making it outside, we headed off to Truskel Bar/Club, which was an adventure in and of itself. But before that adventure, here's a good moment for some photos.
You see, this is a good example of the advantages and drawbacks of flash vs. no-flash (w/ high ISO) with my camera. The first image was taken with flash and a regular shutter and exposure. The second was taken without flash, but with a high ISO and a slower shutter to compensate. The first gives crisp detail, but tends to wash out colours and cancel out any effects lighting might have. The second gives much more intense colour, the club's coloured spotlights show very clearly, but everything is a bit blurry and any shift in my hand or the DJ's position creates blurring. I prefer non-flash when I can get away with it, but the camera I have (Panasonic DMC-LZ5) doesn't give me as much manual control as I would like over exposure, shutter speed, aperture, flash-timing, etc. Ah well.
So Truskel, as S. described it to me as we walked over, was one of those places for choper (tr. nab, grab, catch; in this case, to hook up). Once we got inside, I would've compared it to a college bar (especially of the Canadian kind, considering that it was a mix of Celt-o-phile pub and rock-oriented dance club). I'm thinking of the Dance Cave in Toronto, Trasheteria in Kitchener-Waterloo, or any number of Wrigleyville club/bars in Chicago.
The lineup to get in was long and slow-moving; a group of girls cut in front of us, saying they had left something in the coat check (as if it was a good reason). We eventually got in to a pub that was PACKED with people. This was the kind of insane population density that is only possible when a crowd is not dancing. We shoved our way to the bar, got some beers, and shoved our way back to meet with S.'s friends. Apparently, the plan was to meet another friend of S.'s here, have a drink, and then head back to Le Triptyque to catch T.Raumschmiere. By 3h00, after a drink and a fair bit of crashing around in a sea of flesh, we headed back to Le Triptyque.
When we got there, we saw that were was a newly-formed lineup at the door, which we were in no mood to wait in. S. was supposed to have a friend in the line, so we waited about halfway up the line and looked up and down for her. In the meanwhile, another person in our party started sweet-talking the group of people directly in front of us, and the next thing you know we've merged with them. In an effort to make the "we know these folks" pretence a bit more real, we chatted with them. On made conversation with a girl who was working as an artist (no details on what medium or where she's showing). When she asked me where I was from and I told her "Canada," she replied "Ça se soigne." (tr. that can be cured) I would've like to have said something bitchy about my scant interest in healing if Frenchness was the cure, but she was our ticket in, so I smiled and laughed.
I got in, did the coat-check thing again, and then headed over to the dance floor, where I saw the "you look like a rocker" girl again. I spent some time dancing and snapping more pictures, chatted with S. a bit about the "rock" side of T.Raumschmiere's sound, and then bid S. goodbye when he tuckered out at approx 4h00. At this point, my narrative gets a bit boring; T.Raumschmiere's set was good, with an emphasis on the noisier, grittier side of minimal techno, and I spent most of it dancing. I also got this clip from about the midway point of Raumchmiere's set:
4h30-6h00: Phon.o (Part 2)
I liked this closing set a LOT. Phon.o put together a set that was an upbeat mix of ghettotech/booty house (i.e. house at hard-techno speeds, with punchy bass and rhythmic spoken-word vocals) and harder-edged microhouse. Realizing that I had done very little dancing earlier in the night, I tried to make up for lost time during this set. By this time--due to poor ventilation that reminded me of warehouse raves--the water and air pipes in the ceiling had begun to drip condensation on the floor, which gave just the right amount of slide to do the kind of dancing I really enjoy. I was having such a good time dancing, I didn't even realize that 5h30 had come around and the métro had reopened.