samedi, septembre 16, 2006

Techno Parade (Part 3) : Katapult Afterparty

click to enlarge click for a hot time

Well, I tried to take some pictures of this event, but you can see from the few pictures I'm posting here that it was really hard to get any decent images. All of the dry ice smoke and oblique lighting made the flash turn everything hazy, and setting my shutter speed really low made for a wobbly picture. Meh.

Similar to last week, I'm blogging the events of the night in relation to the times of DJ sets. The actual DJ sets at the Katapult event were a bit different from the ones posted ion the flyer above. Baby Ford had cancelled, I didn't see DJ Kodh or DJ Instant, but Cabanne made a late-night appearance.

23h00-2h00: Alex & Laetitia

At 23h00, I was still at home. Having learned my lesson from last week (or so I thought), I stayed home and made a spicy Peruvian version of pasta aglio e oglio (Garlic & Oil) by adding some ajì mirasol. I checked my mail, did a bit of research on the whole Space Invaders / Joachim Garraud thing, and then hit the road around 0h00 (midnight). Even at night, the métro was surprisingly fast, and I ended up approaching the location, Point Ephermère, at 0h30. For the record, this corner of Paris (métro Jaures) is really delightful. It has a small canal with old brick quays that remind me of Amsterdam in a funny way. Here's a picture I took of the exterior with a long shutter (2s, ISO 80) and no flash. I took it after I left the club, but it seemed appropriate anyway. The club is actuall down at water level, underneath the street.

click to enlarge
Yes, it's blurry. Shaddup.

The location was "intimate" (read: small), which worked well for this party, since they were competing against many, many other parties that night, including the official afterparty. Alex & Laetitia got the party rolling, spinning low-key but very danceable microhouse. Again, I was here too early; this time, at least, I didn't literally open the place. There were maybe 20 people already there, not including the staff, and thankfully that included about 5 people making various attempts to get the dancefloor started. I ordered a drink and once again asked for one and got two. I think this is because the word for "one" (un) and the word for "two" (deux) have really similar vowel shapes, so it's easy for the bartender to presume that my "d" was just inaudible. While I sheepishly paid for my two drinks and started double-fisting (best word ever) my vodka tonics, I took note of how others made their orders. In violation of all French grammar that I had been taught, everyone leaned over the bar and just yelled their drink, without an indefinite article. That is, rather than saying "a vodka tonic, please," they would just say "VODKA TONIC!!" Of course, we say that all the time in English, but I had been under the impression that definite/indefinite articles cannot be dropped in French without sounding like a tool. Well, lessons learned. At 6€ per drink, I might add. No wonder nobody leaves tips.

Once I had taken care of my drinks, I took out my camera and started playing with the settings, trying to get a decent shot. I was hoping to document as much of the party as possible, but my camera was being recalcitrant:

click to enlarge mess
Taken with a 1/8s shutter, ISO 200, no flash click it baby
Taken with 1s shutter, ISO 80, no flash

These were my no-flash attempts. As you'll see from the photos of Skat, the flash photos didn't go much better. I later (i.e. Wednesday) discovered that my camera has a "high sensitivity" setting that takes pictures at a really high ISO exposure, so maybe that'll work better next time. Nonetheless, hazy look of the first pic above and the blurry but luminescent look of the second catch the affect of the night, if not the details. I like how, in the second pic, a spotlight is shining across that guy's shoulder and face; it's a bit beatific.

Returning to narrative: I gave up taking pictures for the moment and got to dancing. The floor slanted suddenly in one spot, in a way that was not easily visible, but potentially dangerous. Later that night, the bartender would slide across it as she came out of the bathroom, bumping a guy with a drink and getting beer right down her shirt. Aside from the floors (which are admittedly crucial), the place was good to go, and it eventually filled up. As is my usual practice, I eventually made my way to the front, put my bag down on the stage, and got to workin it.

2h00-3h00: Skat

As Alex of Alex&Laetitia wrapped up the set, Skat began setting up his equipment to a rather excited crowd. Here's a few picks of him setting up. I used flash this time, which reflected off of the dry ice smoke and created a foggy effect that I am none too fond of.

click to enlarge
1/8s; ISO320; flash click for crap
1/30s; ISO 400; flash

I don't know if the crowd was excited because Skat was coming on, or if the mere fact of a DJ-change promised an elevation in intensity (which, I'll admit, is often the case). Either way, I was certainly excited to hear Skat live after falling in love with his single on the Katapult: Various Artists 2 release on Karat records, "Ur Not The Same." It starts with beautifully shattered, inarticulate vocals, that eventually meet up with a penetrating but soft microhouse kick & hi-hat pattern. Anyway, the set didn't quite go as expected. Skat had set up his laptop, but then tried to cue up tracks on the turntables and line them up with whatever was coming out of his laptop. There were more than a few misalignments that sounded a lot like trainwrecks, and the time it took to cue up the two sound sources seemed to keep him constantly off guard. Whatever program he was using on his laptop (I couldn't get a look) seemed to de-sync every once in a while, and create odd changes of tempo that I don't think was intentional (see this short video I took of such a moment—see how he lunges at his laptop). Also, he seemed to be interested in continuing the Techno Parade's salute to 20 years of house (what date were they using?), because frequently broke the flow of music to introduce black-gospel-diva vocals that eventually returned to a house beat. This created a stop-and-start rhythm to the whole set that works well with classic Chicago house, but didn't sit well with the minimal/microhouse expectations of the crowd. A few people in the crowd made their opinions known, and Skat yelled out a few choice words to his hecklers. Despite his combatative stance, however, he gave up the turntables and got to a more consistent microhouse laptop set by the 30-minute mark.

3h00-4h00: Mikael Weill

Mikael Weill, on the other hand, was as exciting live as he was on the same Katapult/karat records release, entitled "Ça caille" (trans. "It's fucking cold). In fact, if you're a fan of minimal house, I strongly recommend going over to Beatport and doing an artist search for Mikael Weill; great output overall. Strangely enough, although Weill's set was the best of the night for me, I have little to say about it. It was great from beginning to end, lots of crackling, offbeat, glitchy high-pitched patterns matched to thick bass kicks, and he was using Ableton Live. I this lack of comment is also partially due to the fact that I was distracted by the unfolding drama of a guy trying and failing to pick up a girl standing next to me. Also, there was this amusing moment when a woman standing near me saw a friend she obviously hadn't seen for a long time. She made thrilled noises, leaned in to kiss him, and then saw the cigarette in his hand. She pulled back abruptly, and then proceeded to lui casser les couilles ("break his balls") about how he had started smoking again. After all the stereotypes I've come to know about French smokers, it was amusing to see a young Frenchwoman give her friend a very public and very loud tongue-lashing over his smoking habit.

4h00-6h00: Cabanne

Although not as thrilling as Weill's set, Cabanne was great; he's also on that Katapult/karat release (see above) and available on Beatport. I found his sound to be more house than techno, a bit more soft and emotional while still very much intense dance music. It also felt more fleshy; I don't mean to say that the other set's weren't very much embodied, but rather than something about the music made reminded me of the soft firmness of flesh. Perhaps I shouldn't write these while I'm eating. Unlike Skat or Weill, Cabanne didn't do a live laptop set, but instead chose vinyl. But at around 5:30am, Mikael Weill joined Cabanne with his laptop and they had a brief but lovely jam session: crackling glitch over smooth minimal house.

At one point, a friendly, smiling guy came up to me, made eye contact and then fanned me with a flyer that he had in his hand. I thanked him profusely (it was really hot) and we had a brief conversation. At first, I thought he was being flirty but eventually noticed that he was grinding his jaw. Aaah, Exstasy. One day, I'm going to make a t-shirt that says "Pills make French people friendly." It plays on a not-entirely-true stereotype, but I bet it would get laughs here.


As I came out of the club, took another look at the canal, beautiful from a distance, but encrusted with filth up close. Mercifully, a night spent in a smoke-filled bar killed my olfactory senses for the time being. I made my way across the bridge to the métro station and stopped for a picture (see above). As I put my camera away, a male-female couple caught up to me and asked me for a smoke. When I said no, the guy said, "Hey I saw you up front tonight, dancing like a madman."
"Yup, that was me."
"You saw me as well, I hope."
"Of course, you were right there to the left of me."
"Right. Well, g'night!"

It wasn't until I was in the station that it occured to me that he might've been expecting some sort of compliment on his dancing. Or maybe recognition was enough.

After an uneventful métro ride (it was 6am, so the métro was running again) I stumbled back through my local boulangerie, bought a pain au chocolat and a baguette, made my way home, and closed those light-sealing blinds on my window.

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