samedi, janvier 17, 2009

Female:Pressure night at Le Rex

My daytime activities mostly involved catching up on blogging and finishing up my fellowship proposal (the first in what will probably be an unending sequence). Things didn’t get interesting until the evening, when I headed out to meet a friend from Berlin who was stopping through Paris on the way home from a trip to Australia. We grabbed some drinks around 23h00 at a somewhat cheesy “Irish Pub” on the grands boulevards, called “Corcoran’s,” before heading over to Le Rex for another night of partying.

Correspondant: Female:Pressure night @ Le Rex

So tonight’s event was an all-woman DJ night, co-promoted by Female:Pressure, a web community for women in electronic dance music (techno, house, etc.). I had only been vaguely aware of one of the headliners, ADA, and of course Jennifer Cardini, who is something of an establishment in the Paris scene by now.

We got to the club at around 1h30 and met Fantômette and her girlfriend at the door. Fantô was on the guestlist and I hadn’t been able to get into contact with the person I knew in the club, so we managed to follow them in the guestlist lineup and Fantô sweet-talked me and my friend in with them. Yay!

0h00-2h00: Jennifer Cardini

We only caught the last half-hour of Cardini’s set, but it was sort of what I’ve come to expect from her. The mixing was rough and her selection was sort of all over the place, but the diverse mix of “minimal” techno and “electro” (which remain two styles that overlap a lot in Paris) made the crowd very happy. Fantô pointed out that Cardini’s look has become more and more butch—tank-top, tattooed arm sleeves, stocky build, “classic” K.D. Lang hair.

2h00-3h30: Julietta

Fantômette had been really excited about this DJ’s set, mostly due to a podcast of hers that had been posted to the Ibiza Voice recently (listen and download here). Julietta is apparently based out of Frankfurt, with a residency at the famously-minimalist Harry Klein bar there.

Anyway, I hadn’t been able to listen to her podcast before tonight, but I was pretty impressed with what I heard. She mostly played very “minimal” tracks with sparse and hollow textures, but her selection favoured tracks that had resonant, agile basslines, including pitched bass kicks that have more complex patterns than just 1 beat = 1 hit (see this post for a bit more discussion of what I’m talking about). This muscular style of minimalism produced an overall sound that was both full and streamlined, solid yet intricate. I also appreciated that the tracks she selected were inflected with house characteristics, like acoustic-sounding percussion, swung rhythms, rhythmic patterns that resemble funk or Afro-Caribbean styles, and the occasional vocal sample. It gave a bit of blood to the whole thing and warmed it up.

My only complaint is that her pacing was a bit off. The beginning of the set was great, but after a little while, she would dwell on uninteresting plateaus for too long and breeze through exciting ones too quickly.

3h30-5h00: Ada live

Her live set started really well, with a sound similar to Julietta’s, but with a electro-inspired distorted synths to fill in the mid-range texture. Soon after, though, she started to revel in these “electro” synths, to the point of making the whole sound really noisy and a bit annoying. She also tended to cycle through what were obviously pre-made tracks, rather than really improvising with musical elements and creating new stuff on the fly. Nonetheless, it was pretty good.

At some point during the set, a guy passed me in the crowd and gave me a long look. After a moment, he said, “We know each other from Berlin.” At first, I was a curious about how suggestive the word “know” was for referencing our contact in Berlin, but then I suddenly recognized his face and realized that it wasn’t anything salacious. As it turns out, he’s the (ex-)boyfriend of a friend of a friend who I met back in the summer in Berlin rather briefly.

We chatted a bit and got to know each other better (still in a platonic way, although I’ll admit he’s cute) and then went back to dancing. A few minutes later, Fantômette came by and I told her about this chance meeting; since she wasn’t sure if she had been formally introduced to him, I turned around to introduce him to her.

“Do you know Fantômette?”, I said.

“Yeah, we know each other. Are you friends with her?”


“Cool. Pleased to meet you.” And this man who was clearly not the guy I was talking to a minute ago shook my hand and we exchanged names.

Relieved that my gaffe was covered over by this other guy’s affability and the good luck that he already knew Fantô, I went back to dancing and did my best to make it seem like I had meant to do that all along. Let’s hear it for smooth sociability!

5h00-6h00: Electric Indigo

This woman’s set started out pretty good, but it coarse and heavy for my tastes, and I was already feeling a bit tired, so by about 5h10 I headed out and got ready to head home. When I left the club, I saw that it was raining heavily, so I stood under the awning at the entrance and decided to wait until 5h30 rolled around and the subway opened. Then, a couple next to me started having some sort of domestic dispute, at which point I decided that I would rather bike home in the pouring rain.

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