I slept in this morning and then forced myself out of bed to hit the neighborhood market for some roast chicken, which served as both my lunch and dinner. I had a pile of fellowship applications to finish and submit, so I dedicated myself to that for a large part of the day, although I did allow myself a bit of distraction to break the monotony. I also managed to do a little bit of work on revising my first chapter, but it was very little more than inserting a paragraph here and correcting some grammar there.
Then, by 1h00 or so, it was time to head out. A couple of friends had organized an event at La Scène Bastille called “Live Impact,” which features only live sets all night. Two other friends had been booked to perform that night, 2 Buddies, alongside big-name Berlin DJ Guido Schneider, so I could hardly miss the event. I had been feeling sore all week from my spectacular bike accident last weekend, but I sucked it up and told myself that a few drinks would make dancing a lot easier.
Live Impact #3 @ La Scène Bastille
The streets around rue de la roquette were no longer closed for construction, so I was able to bike my way through to La Scène without having to go all the way around place de la Bastille itself (which is never much fun at night). I wasn’t on the list or anything, but I managed to nonetheless get a warm greeting from the doorwoman, who recognized me from all the previous events I’ve been to (the majority of which I’ve been on the guestlist). As usual, I was braced to argue with the bouncer about keeping my bag, but I didn’t have any trouble this time.
The opening set was delivered by the duo of NathanH and GuiGui, both of whom were also the organizers for the soirée itself. Their sound tends to be a harder style of techno than I usually follow, with rather heavy influences from the “electro” sound that tend to make it a bit too noisy for my tastes. Tonight’s set, however, was much closer to the kind of techno I like; while not quite “minimal” per se, the sound was less busy and more focused, giving the whole thing a lighter, more spacious feel. Also, their pacing of build-ups and breakdowns was much slower than usual, which made the set feel less frenetic.
Although it was still relatively early in the night (1h30), the room was barely ¼ full, which was certain to make the promoters nervous. Throughout most of the night, they wouldn’t get over 50% capacity (by my estimation), and a large percentage of the crowd were friends of the promoters, showing up in support. This was pretty disappointing, considering that Guido Schneider should be able to fill a room pretty much in any large city, but this was mostly explained by the fact that there were two other big nights going on tonight, including the OpenHouse party at Bataclan, and the Panik party at l’Elysée Montmartre. Both events are long-standing events that have dedicated followings, so most likely a lot of potential attendees had been drawn away by the competition. Win some, lose some. On the upside, I was able to dance comfortably all night without being trampled on.
2h00-3h30: 2 Buddies
(note: I don’t remember the playlist-times precisely, so these sets may have been a bit longer or shorter)
I was impressed with their ability to give a large-scale contour to a live set, which often tends toward deconstructed amorphousness, but the imposition of that shape made the beginning of their set difficult to get into. Following off of New Born’s rather energetic/hard set, the began with a very low-intensity sound, in which even the bass kicks felt muted. The texture was certainly very sparse and minimal (as was most of their set), but it lacked the sort of energy and focus that excellent minimal techno/house can have. By about 30 minutes into the set, the sound become more intense and driving, with a greater emphasis on punchy bass kicks and judicious use of dubby vocal fragments to provide some linearity among all of the circular loops. The level of intensity continued to mount until the end of the set, when it finally felt like they were using the complete range of the sound system. Their beats had a tactile force to them, the mid- and hi-frequency elements were intricately woven without being too busy, and the whole ensemble had a forward-driving feel, a velocity that had the crowd really excited.
3h30-5h00: Guido Schneider
Although 2 Buddies’ set ended with a lot of energy and intensity, there was still a dramatic contrast with the beginning of Schneider’s set, which immediately began with the typical Berlin minimal sound. The bass kicks were punchy and resonant at the same time, being pitched very low to give them a room-filing quality. They also tended to be rather mobile, tracing patterns that were more complex than 4/4 and often having slight melodic contours. On top of this were very sparse mid- and hi-freq elements, which were generally simple in their arrangement, but sonically complex (i.e., the samples themselves were very richly-textured). There was a lot less structure and shape to the set than the one that came before, but Schneider managed to fill the room with that Berlin sound: both massive and tightly focused. I was actually surprised; when I had seen him last summer at Tresor, the set was far too hard and heavy-handed, and when I saw him at Bar25 at the end of the summer, it was lovely but very light (appropriate for a Sunday afternoon).
5h00-close: Bruno B
Well, I’ll admit that I wasn’t hugely thrilled with Bruno’s set, but I think there’s just a simple difference of aesthetics. He was clearly punching out a good electro-tinged set that dipped into harder techno and even trance, but that’s rarely what I like, so I found myself disconnecting from the set and losing interest. I eventually said goodbye to everyone and headed back home, feeling more than a bit sore from a night of dancing.
Ironically, I have very few amusing and/or scandalous stories from tonight. I had a great time and really enjoyed everyone’s sets, but nothing extraordinary happened; I usually have at least one intense conversation with somebody or I witness some interesting scene of human drama, but nothing of the sort tonight. Considering my misfortunes last weekend, though, perhaps I should be thankful.