Sunday, November 30, 2003

Kind of a misnomer to say I "just got back" from San Francisco, but I did just get back into the office, so it's not totally inaccurate. I flew down there Friday night to see Michael Mayer and Reinhard Voigt, from the Cologne, Germany techno/house label/shop/distributor Kompakt, rip shit eight ways till Sunday. Actually, that's not quite right, either--more accurate to say they filled us up and kept it level till the last hour or so, when Mayer went into schaffle ("shuffle," duh) mode and stopped paying attention to flow, riding out his time on the decks. He'd earned the right, though.

I left the office around 5pm, caught a 7:20pm plane to S.F., and Supershuttled it straight to the venue, arriving at 10 on the nose. Maybe a dozen people there, and as a venue it didn't look promising--a lot of couches, almost no dancefloor, an empty DJ setup (they were playing a CD). I bought a drink and was approached by a tall guy with glasses--he turned out to be Alex, an ILx regular--and his girlfriend Jen. We sat around while Broker/Dealer played some records and the room filled up, and we began to get nervous--surely the party wasn't going to be in this lounge? We wanted to dance. Then we got word that the party was moving to the previously cordoned-off basement. We headed down, and it was pretty much exactly what we wanted it to be--dark, corners lit w/red, green, blue, purple neon, bar in the middle, large, and eminently ready to be danced in. Then Mayer came on, opened with 15 minutes or so of buzzy, limpid ambience, before throwing on something lightly beaty--a 4/4 house thing with a hint of a break-y feel, appropriate, in retrospect, for S.F. He took maybe 20 minutes from there to rev up to full speed--and he did it with the A-side of his new 12-inch. (Both sides, I am happy to report, smoke.) He shifted dynamics, of course--it's his trademark--but what's great about catching him do it in real time is that he's so relaxed, so leisurely about it, he's no slowpoke but getting there when he gets there is the entire point, and he keeps you entertained while he's changing lanes so there's no impatience on the audience's part either. What's great about Immer and Fabric 13 is that those shifts come nearly every time the track number changes but never feel willful; what's great about him live is that they're harder to predict but feel exactly right when they arrive.

Voigt, in the meantime, did a PA between Mayer's two set, mostly variations on a theme, which sounds a lot more boring than it actually was--in fact, I believe I will introduce the word "bangin'" into this summary to describe it. It was bangin'. There. That will do.