Monday, April 30, 2007

Event Review: Refuge at The Transfer

Refuge, put together by Fil Latorre and DJ Javaight aka the Staple crew, featuring Jeno, was a great exploration of "future house and deep techno," though the union of this music with the space of The Transfer bar was less than ideal.

It's always a good sign when you hear two different DJs at the same party play tracks you own, serving as it does as confirmation of your own good taste and that you are indeed in the presence of like-minded individuals. When DJ Javaight laid down Kiki's "Trust Me," and then Jeno later played "You Got Good Ash" by Marek Bois, I had one of those brief moments of feeling not only in synch with what was around me, but that something I had been following for a long time was finally being taken up by others; for the Staple crew I think this would be described in terms of "deepness," a more thoughtful, almost hypnotic approach to techno and tech house that features very smooth mixes and blends between tracks. As much as I love the Kontrol DJs I've always felt that they had something of a tendency toward squonk for squonk's sake, and as they moved on to The EndUp their sound has taken on more of a traditional house sound. In the tracks that Javaight and Fil Latorre laid down you can still hear the house throb, but there were also harder, darker elements that experiment with more artificial, trance-like sonic textures, as well as the occasional saw-tooth bassline, that move you away from the at times almost sacchrine, sleep-inducing feeling of pure deep house.

Unfortunately, The Transfer did not turn out to be the place to really appreciate this music. I arrived with the boyfriend, Kitty, and our friend J around 10 PM, and at that time there was a good crowd around the bar, but the only other place to sit and chill was either on a poorly placed sofa below the windows (where, everytime you tried to lean back, you knocked your noggin on the drink shelf), or back behind the pool table. We settled in and tried to make ourselves comfortable while awaiting for the crowd to arrive, but that never really happened. I would have expected that with Jeno on the bill there would have been a big crowd, and while some dedicated house heads did come through the doors later, most of the action was confined to the bar area. The beats were good enough to get your hips moving, but they didn't even move the pool table out of the way until 11.30, so no real dance energy ever materialized. Even worse, for a supposed gay bar, the crowd was almost entirely straight. I'm not sure what it takes to get gay men out of their musical ghetto, but evidently you can put good music in a cheap, convenient location that's well-known and it's still not enough to keep them from rehashing the same stuff that's been served to them for the past twenty years.

The Staple crew is moving on from The Transfer with their next two events, Sabotage at Anu on the 10th of May, and then a party with Kenny Larkin at the RxGallery on May 11. I'll personally be anxious to see how they carry through with their sonic explorations in a space, and with a crowd, that is more attuned to their vibe.

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