And props to Glasgow's unflappable Optimo crew for their two NYC gigs--I attended both the swanky Manhattan one (Tribeca Grand, ooer) and the one in scruffier Brooklyn digs. I'm tellin' you, things are really picking up in this city dance-music-wise. People here seem psyched, more than ever, to organize gigs, to bring in people they like over from far-flung locales, and to just go out. (If you're not familiar with Optimo, it's kinda like if I Love Music in its smartest, most open-hearted days was boiled down into two people with mad DJ skills and a worldwide cult following. Okay, so Optimo was around before ILM, but there's a similarity in attitude and approach.)
The Brooklyn show got moved at the last minute from its scheduled venue to a Williamsburg art gallery entirely unprepared for it--okay I know what you're thinking, "Williamsburg art gallery," a little passe isn't it. It wasn't an awful electroclash leftover of a place, though; it felt unfinished and old, like being in someone's garage. Paint splattered on the walls in an appealingly ugly way. A rickety sort-of stage. There weren't tickets; a girl clutching a shoebox asked for a "$5 donation" when you walked in. Ramshackle acoustics (a pair of old JBL - junky but loud! - speakers slightly bigger than the ones in my bedroom providing the sound)-- but none of that mattered when beer was 3 bucks and all mixed drinks, regardless of complexity, cost a sensible $4. Okay, so the beer meant warm cans of Miller High Life ("the champagne of beers"!) and the mixed drinks came out of plastic bottles and went straight into waxy paper cups, but they were mixed good and strong. So unlike the Tribeca Grand where it's free to get in but a beer costs $10 (thieves!), people at the Brooklyn gig got properly wasted. A fun, bouncy vibe. Everyone digging the music, a few people more gone than others ("I just had...nine drinks..." said one, still sustaining an animated conversation about music while stumbling) and Optimo and support DJs Selzer and Sweeney in good form. It all had to close down by 2, but it was Monday night; you can't have it all.
I hear Wiley and Kano are coming to New York soon, which can only be good news too.
Here is a partial wish list for spring gigs in New York if someone out there is listening:
Tiefschwarz, Rex the Dog, Justus Köhncke live set, Ivan Smagghe, Vitalic, Booka Shade, Robag Wruhme, Luciano, Mathew Jonson