On Saturday myself, the boyfriend, Kitty, and our friend Matt G went out to Mighty for the Dirty Bird label 3rd Anniversary party, where we were looking forward to hearing what the producers behind one of our most up-and-coming techno/tech-house labels would put forth as representative of their sound. We got a pretty broad cross-section of music, from lush and deep to tribal and almost full-on trance, but then Christian Martin dropped the one track that will make me leave the dancefloor, if not the club, every time, and that, combined with the generally schizophrenic vibe from the crowd, convinced us to head over to Sparky’s for burgers before Claude vonStroke, the label’s founder, ever came on.
We arrived around 10.30 as Justin Martin was just getting into his set, playing what, for me, was the best music all night. He started out with a deep, very lush house sound and gradually built in more techy elements as he went along. As the boyfriend remarked, you can tell he has a background in production, as he was constantly fiddling with knobs and effects to push the sonic elements of his tracks around. There was a complaint that he was perhaps too oriented around breakdowns, but his mixes were tight and kept everyone moving along quite nicely.
After Justin, Worthy took to the decks with a tribal house sound that eventually worked its way up into what almost sounded like hard trance – there was a moment toward the end of his set when I could have sworn that I was back at a candy rave, and there were plenty of hands in the air to help with that impression. Unfortunately, by this time the dance floor, and the entire club, was so packed that the best I could manage was to hang out toward the back of the dancefloor and nod along – if Dirtybird has a 4th anniversary party next year, I hope they’ll take it to a larger venue, like Mezzanine.
And then Christian Martin came on and dropped a remix the one track that I absolutely cannot stand as his opener, Khia’s “My Neck, My Back.” For me, no matter how smart, innovative, and fun the music has been before this track, once it gets dropped it turns the entire club into a strip joint and lowers the IQ of every person present by ten points. I’ve walked off the dancefloor when it got dropped at gay nights, I left the dancefloor when Joakim dropped it, and my thought this time was, if this is Christian Martin’s indication of where he plans to take the mood of the night, I’m going elsewhere. At the time that simply meant a trip to the loo, but when I got in there I walked into the middle of some shout-down between two guys, and that was enough to convince me that it was time to leave.
A word about the crowd: I have yet to figure out who these people are that come to Mighty. I see more button-down shirts, black cocktail dresses, and expensive handbags than any club outside of North Beach here, and nobody really struck me as being that much of a music head (but, I will say, they do dance, which is far better than a bunch of people standing around looking vaguely ill-at-ease, which you find at so many gay nights). I did see some folks there representing the club freaks, which was great, but every time I go there I get this vibe of white collar professional guys taking their girlfriends out to this dance club that they think is kind of edgy, trying to impress them that they know about places other than North Beach and the Marina. There’s also a seriously ugly undercurrent to the vibe here, perhaps because so many people get packed into a small space with bad traffic flow, inadequate bathroom facilities, and no place to sit down. While standing outside waiting for Kitty to fetch his coat I saw two other guys get into a shouting match, with one calling out to the other “yeah, yeah, what’s your name, where do you live?” Even the bouncers get into it here; standing in the smoking area out front I saw a guy hop the barricade, only to have a security guard grab him by the throat and essentially force him back over the barricade. Hey, you know, sometimes talking to people works too.
So, having heard Claude vonStroke last week at The End Up, where there was plenty of room to dance, a much more congenial atmosphere, and a better sound system (seriously, unless you’re right at the focal point of that big new 7-way system at Mighty, it sounds like crap, and too loud crap at that), getting burgers at Sparky’s before the 2AM rush sounded like an excellent way to end the evening. I like a lot of the stuff Dirtybird is putting out, and they certainly demonstrated that, both individually and collectively, they’ve got serious chops and a mastery of a wide variety of genres; I just hope that, next year, they’ll be partying in a better venue, with a crowd that’s a bit less B&T.