For me, Gui Boratto is the guy who brought joy back to techno music. As sophisticated, cool, and deep as techno can be, it never lifted me up the way that progressive trance once did, at least not until I heard Chromophobia. With tracks like "Annunciation" and "Beautiful Life," and Superpitcher's remix of "Like You," Boratto was able to re-inject a note of happy positivity in a scene that is often focused primarily on the heady when it's not on the sexual.
Boratto played to a packed, almost too full house at Paradise Lounge on Friday, bringing in a crowd not just of techno heads, but a number of folks who probably spend most of their clubbing time at Ruby Skye or in the Marina - more than any other techno show I've attended recently, this one showed the ability of an accessible artist like Boratto to attract folks who still think that "techo" is interchangeable with "house" or "trance." Watching from the mezzanine around the dance floor, the crowd was clearly moved when Boratto (who smoked like a fiend behind the decks) dropped his biggest and most expansive tracks, but what he played between his big hits often came off as monotonous and not nearly as inspirational. The boyfriend noted that his tracks mostly use the same drum kit, and many structures, such as a snare hit on the three count, were commonly shared. This made for some extremely smooth mixing and transitions (Boratto was working primarly from a set-up of his own gear, including a Lemur), but after hearing a soaring anthem like "Beautiful Life," what followed often seemed more like a DJ tool to get to the next track. As thrilling as some moments of Boratto's performance was, I left thinking that, as a live performer, he needs to put more into the pacing and structure of the experience.
Local Hatchback opened for Boratto, and the very end of his set was among the best stuff I've heard from a San Francisco producer in a long while, with elements of space disco, classic synth pop, and the balearic anthem combining into a "naturally epic" sound, as he describes it on his myspace page. I'll certainly be keeping an eye peeled to catch more performances from Hatchback.
I still believe that Paradise Lounge is one of the best venues in the city, but this show made me think they're starting to have growing pains. Blasthaus sent out an email on Friday saying there would be an open bar from 10 - 11 PM, but when we arrived at 10.20, the doors were open only for those paying cash; those of us in the will-call line weren't allowed until after 10.30. Then, as we ordered drinks at the upstairs bar, we were told that the free drinks were downstairs only. We also discovered that neither of the upstairs bars had limes for drinks, and for the rest of the night we were served vodka and soda every time we ordered vodka tonics. If I'm going to pay $7 for a drink, then I want the right drink with the right garnish, please. We also inadvertantly stumbled into the "private bottle service" area when we went looking for the smoking room; believe me when I say that a velvet rope on a catwalk in a dark club, without anyone there for security, is going to get walked over. We were nice, though, and didn't take any of the booze we found back there, just smoked and left. By the way, at $200 for a bottle of Skye, and $250 for a bottle of Grey Goose, I'll take the Grey Goose, but I wonder why anybody would pay ten times the wholesale price for a bottle of booze and get stuck back in a room where you can't even watch the dancefloor.