The FUK Werk techno happy hour at 111 Minna is a welcome attempt to bring minimal techno to a wider audience in a well-known and easygoing space, but on my afterwork visit both the sound system and the DJ couldn't cut through the noise of busy bees trying to connect with their hive mates.
The boyfriend and I rolled in around 5.30 and installed ourselves in a booth in the back room where a blonde woman (who I think was Susan Tobiason) was getting started behind the decks. The first thing that we commented on was the lousy quality of the sound, all bass and tweeter with no middle whatsoever. The result was an echoing, muddy low-end without any focus or snap to the rest of the sound. I think house has been the main staple of 111 Minna parties for a while, so it may be that the system is tuned for that kind of music more than minimal techno, where you need that mid-range to give the music presence.
The tracks themselves didn't help much with putting over the techno aesthetic. They were minimal in composition, but, unfortunately, in drive as well. As they boyfriend put it, they had no funk, no change-up, just a steady chugchug bassline, one of the most sterile, emotionless sets I've heard in a while. The DJ did not seem very comfortable behind the decks; we couldn't tell, but it seemed she was working off a laptop and it was consuming much of her, and another gentleman's, attention. She was chewing gum somewhat nervously, and never seemed to get into her own music. I always take it as a bad sign when DJs don't feel moved to bop along to their own tracks.
The crowd was young and diverse, from dreaddy white boys to Asian and Indian tech workers to at least one guy in a business suit. None of them in the back room, though, seemed that much into the music. There were lots of drinks and lots of chatter, and I suspect that many people were there as much because it was on their way home as because techno was being played.
FUK Werk Fridays is a good afterwork drink scene and I'll be sure to check it out periodically; I only work two blocks away, after all. The party is just getting started, so I think both the performance and sound issues will resolve themselves as time goes on. The crowd is generally okay, but stay toward the back room if you don't want to deal with all the busy bee buzzing.