Well, I had no need to worry. With the exception of some raver-shenanigans that involved Mr. Random Raver*, who had been instructed by the courts to not leave the state of Indiana let alone the country. But Lea was the perfect traveling companion. She got all directions, got an awesome hotel room not too far from the venue (and for a great price), she was great at introducing me and Mai to people from Ohio that she knew, whom we didn't, and even indulged Maisha's and my listening to Nika Costa's "Everybody Got That Something" over and over. Moreover, she didn't run out of money. There was absolutely no Tomfoolery or Haberdashery involved!
So it's no wonder that I felt completely at ease with the idea of going to Detroit with her a rave. The only thing I had to worry about was the weather, which was no colder than Indy. After all, she had planned it all out: Detroit, hotel, Windsor, gambling, hotel, party, hotel, home.
And that's exactly what happened. They had everything you could want in a travel buddy. So once again, hats off to Lea and Curtis for making the trip as smooth and painless as possible.
So what about the party, then? SHAZAMM! 3, by Knightbus Entertainment (??). Or was it Knightgroove? I can't remember. All I know is that I saw Wilhelm on the flyer and Wilhelm at the door, so as far as I'm concerned, it was a Wilhelm K. party. 'Nuff said.
The venue was at a warehouse/theater, where "traditional" concerts are held all the time, and everything was what you would expect from a mostly-hassle-free event. Security were there, but none too intrusive**. They had coat-check (thank gawd!), but we took a taxi to the venue and the line went rather quickly, so I probably could have gone without a coat, but why risk it? There were two sets of restrooms, tho' the one in the back room was out of order, and plenty of port-a-lets; and, considering how many people were there, there was rarely ever a line. Er . . . except when the girls decided that they would hop over to the men's restroom to use the stall, of which there were only one. I should expect that at a rave, however, right? Still . . . one stall. And we had Canadian Burger King that night! :lol:
In true Wilhelm-Party style, you had Wilhelm handlin' his bid'ness! Willie likes a smooth ship; he probably doesn't get it as often as not, and he can get pretty thunderous when he doesn't. But really, who could blame him? The question, "How long does it take to take someone's ticket and rip it in half?" is a damn good one. But you're dealing with ravers, here. So . . . . . . . . . . who knows how it takes to rip a ticket in half, is what I'm saying.
BERT's WAREHOUSE is massive. You walk in and the coat-check is on the left, you move forward a bit and get your wrist band if you're 21+ for drinks (word to the wise: get your drink-on beforehand, or sneak in a flask), then zip off to the right. There, you enter a shot-gun bar area. Shot-gun, for those who don't know, simply means "longer than it is wide". This is where the first room is; and this was probably the best room to get your drinks if you wanted to use a card instead of cash. Hang a left and walk down said shot-gun, and you'd run into the entrance for the restrooms. This part got a bit congested because of the long line for the women's restroom.
Then you walked into the main room.
It was maybe bigger than the Consortium, for those who remember those halcyon days, and in much the same set-up. As soon as you walk in, you're facing the stage (on the other side of the room), another bar to the right, and the port-a-johns on the left. Along the right wall, there were chairs set up, too. Completely unobtrusive and a most-welcomed relief!
Walk around the bar to the right and you'll come to the entrance for the second room. Imagine a room about twice the size of the Purple Underground . . . or maybe it's the P.U main room plus the piss-and-paint room combined, minus the separating wall, and you'd have a good idea of the size of the room.
All-in-all, I saw you could probably fit 4000 people in there fair comfortably and it was surprisingly clean, comparatively. I mean, you'd expect a lot worse from what is essentially a warehouse party!
Sound and Lights
I'm sure Dan Evans will agree with me. We talked about this as we were leaving. To say the sound was loud is an understatement; to say it was uncomfortably so, probably right on the mark. It happened during Craze's set, I'm sure of it, or maybe when Bad Boy Bill/Alex Peace set up their gear. I dunno. But what had been a nice, clean punch pre-Craze, became a chest-rattling, heart defibrillating monster post-Craze. Actually, there was a moment when Green Velvet came on when the sound seemed to relent enough to be enjoyable again. But by the time Wolfgang got on the decks, the heart-attack-in-a-speaker returned. Yes, I realize I'm getting old, but I've heard sound that you can FEEL without the lows drowning out the mids, so I know there is that sweet-spot.
Source Audio seemed to be on it all night. I constantly saw them up assisting the DJs when they needed it, so maybe their ears suffered from fatigue? Or maybe their sensible decision to wear earplugs meant that they would attribute any muddiness to said earplugs? I dunno.
There was a laser. It was a nice laser. It was a really nice laser, actually. It spelled the DJs' names and shit.
There were projectors. They were big. But what was playing on them lacked the creativity of, say, Benji's performances. In fact, it'd have been nice to have seen Benji there.
I only really wanted to hear three people: Green Velvet, Bad Boy Bill, and Craze. I got to see them. Everyone else would have been icing, but really, for me, those aforementioned three were the cake.
I touched on Craze's set before, but I don't want to give the impression that I didn't like his set. It was varied like you'd expect from him. He started out with house and hard-edged tech-house; went into hip-hop, briefly; then slipped into jungle, dubstep, and reggae, before going back to hip-hop. He didn't scratch much, but whatever. Unless you have it set-up on projectors to peep what his hands are doing, there's really no point. And maybe that was how he felt. My only beef with what he actually played was that his randomness seemed almost too random. But it's hard to drop four genres into one 1-hour set.
Bad Boy Bill
Bad Boy Bill's set was surprisingly fun. He seems to favor that fidgety sound that leans towards, basically, old Under Construction-styled Chicago hard-house. In fact, that's all it is. There! I said it. Most fidget stuff out now is merely Chicago hard-house redressed, and some would consider regressed, for the Now. What of it! But he also played some new mix of Cajmere's Horny, always a pleasure, and other funkier, groove-laden tracks. I don't recall him scratching, but he did beat juggle a couple times. Alex Peace was with him as his MC, and what I like about Peace's MCing is that, at least lately, it's been rather reserved. He gets on the mic, of course, but not every other track, which makes for a better hype man. He could only be a more perfect Jerome to Bill's Morris only if he brought him a mirror.
Green Velvet made me want drugs. I mean that in a good way. All that Relief stuff makes use of so many fades and filters that you know, were you in a certain state of mind, that it would have been very "journey-inducing". He through in The Percolator, Fakes & Phonies, and La La Land, which he went old-school and sang the lyrics through his headphones. He also played an effect-laden drum-track which blended perfectly with Spastik.
Note on Spastik: Jason Beatty once said that Spastik is a track that you can't just bust out at any ol' time. It's a special track that can really only be played at that right moment, in the right party. I tend to agree. To me, that party was the right party; that time, the right time. Yet, no one—or damn near no one—was into it as much as I thought they would have been. I don't think that crowd was a very . . . educated crowd, if you catch my meaning. There were some heads there, for sure, but everyone seemed, not young exactly, rather new. There seemed to be little respect for classics, but it was a sort of 'non-respect' that comes from ignorance to history, as opposed to a "fuck this track" sort of disrespect. I mean, people danced and kept dancing. I just expected . . . Well, I expected the roof to blow up. The previous effect-laden drum track had been playing for a good 2 minutes—all mids and highs, no kick. A kick would tease us with one or two here or there, but the tension was thick, which is exactly what a track like should do. And this was right after "Fakes & Phonies", a tension-builder in its own right. And when Spastik starts, you got at least 2 minutes before the kick comes in. And when that kick comes, oh, damn! is it a sweet kick.
So . . . the dancefloor liked it, but it didn't leave the impression that I thought it would have, despite the excellent programming Velvet used to take us there.
Eh . . . What's the one thing you'd expect from a DJ named Wolfgang? Well, you could say that you would expect him to elevate DJing in much the same way Mozart elevated music. Maybe, you might think, there's some rival DJ in Chicago named Salieri? Maybe you'd expect Wolfgang to work so tirelessly on that perfect DJ set that he works himself to death! Well, no on the one, maybe on the second, and one could hope on the third.
Okay, I kid on the last one; I don't wish ill of him, but really, what we got was some track that used a familiar riff from the Classical era as a way to show how clever his DJ name was. Oh, and here's a hint: the riff is from Beethoven's Symphony #5, by the way -- far removed from Mozart. Of course, if the guy's name really is Wolfgang, then I'll eat crow. But maybe, if that track is to be his signature track, he should just call himself Ludwig. Then at least that would garner a chuckle with him and not at him. And yes, I have my plate of crow ready, in case . . .
I don't understand the hype behind him. I've never heard of him, which only shows my ignorance and says nothing of him, his skills, or his stature. The fact is, he played right after Velvet, at a peak slot, for a promoter who I think has excellent taste in what's hot. But he played typical electro-house and fidget and that certain sort of techno that can blend well with those two sounds, and rarely did he step away from that vein. Add to that, the sound issues and my chest caving in, and you have someone ready to go.
Plus, I'm old. Ain't no shame in it. My days of hanging for a full weekend on minimal sleep, or even one long night of an 11pm-6am rave + afterhours is long gone, so I appreciate the headliners that I wanted to see going on as early as they did. ♥ (Admittedly, it would have been nice to see Matt play . . .)
Addendum: The Crow Has Been Prepared
Apparently Wolfgang is Joey Youngman, who had meteoric (of sorts) rise within the quirky, deep house music days post-Federal Crackdown. I believe he went to school for music, at least production, and his current Wolfgang incarnation is his upfront club persona, or whatev. I stand behind my initial reaction to his performance: it was lackluster. But it explains his "coming from nowhere", because it's just as he did with house. The boy is talented; that can't be denied. It's a shame that his current incarnation is so . . . obvious.
Not too terribly young. I have a theory about attending raves: you notice the young ones because you remember what you did at their age and their mere presence makes you cringe. You can see right past a group of 30-something ravers and fixate on that one girl who looks like she had to engage in sitcom-like shenanigans just to be able to attend the event! Add to that the fact that ravers have generally always looked younger, which is surprising considering the drugs of choice are all the sorts of drugs that ages people the quickest, and you have that sense that "everyone's so young."
The reality of this party, I think, is that the median age was probably 21-24. And that's probably how it is most of time, especially nowadays. I saw a lot of older ravers there, people older than 25, but I know that most of them probably thought, "man, this crowd is so young!"
Lea called in a sausage fest. Well . . . for obvious reasons, I don't care about that, but I noticed the girls more, so it's much the same as the age thing. I want there to be more men than women, so I notice the women more. Was it 50/50 down the gender lines? Doubtful. But there were plenty women, ranging from clubbed-out, to raved-out, to whored-out. Pick your fancy. All-in-all, however, a good crowd. Only marginally rude, mostly with regard to personal space. But you know E does that to you. E and 2CB and what-not. You tend to gravitate towards walls and people, anything that you can use to help you walk a straight line.
Superstar 'Tudes in Full Effect
One thing I love about a good party is seeing a crowd behind the decks. That adds to the energy, I think. And I may in the minority when I say that I also don't mind the occasional hoochie or three dancing in front of the stage.
Apparently, superstar DJs don't like that so much. It gets tiresome dancing and watching the stage and then seeing one of the DJs make a big deal about getting people off the stage. Really? Is it that deep? Yes, you have the annoying twats who want to bump-fists with you during your set, and yes, we all know it's more to make themselves look good to everyone watching more than any show of respect to the DJ. Yes, we all know that. But come on.
Other Less Obvious Moments of Awesomeness
We called for a taxi around 2:30 and gave them the address that we had for Bert's Warehouse. It was the address that had been advertised; it was the address that Mapquest used to get us there; it was the address the taxi driver that took us there knew. The lady on the other end of the phone, however, was all, "call me when you got a good address," and then hung-up. Not only did the security people up front give us other addresses that Bert's Warehouse is known under (apparently there's three), but then the one security lady called a taxi for us. This is at 2:30, when normally a party is still "peaking", and she wasn't wont for something to do—there were people still coming in and needing to be patted down and whats-not. So . . . props to them!
So . . . to sum up, I had a great time in Detroit, with Lea and Curtis. We had fun in Windsor, despite losing money, we had fun in the hotel, and we had fun in the party—good job, Will! I doubt I'll make a habit of traveling four hours for a non-weekender, though I detect a trip to Chicago soon, but I don't regret taking the time to kinda-sorta relive the Raver's Life. Every once in a while, it needs to be done.
Addendum: Dj Gir has some photos up on her Myspace. They are public, I believe. Check them out.
Big Gay Footnotes:
* I'm being too harsh with my referencing of this kid as Mr. Random Raver. He was a cool guy and both Lea and I knew him previously. I simply forget his name. He's in Germany now, a member of the goth community, and whether or not his shenanigans have followed him to the Fatherland, I dare not suppose.
EDIT: His name was James, now that I think about it! He was a good kid, despite, and I wish him well.
** To demonstrate this further: The security that patted me down felt my phone in my pocket and kept his hand on it while he patted me down elsewhere. Then he jiggled my pocket. I simply said, "Oh, that's my phone" and we let me pass without another word. Now as 19 year-old raver, that's cool; as a 35-year old raver, that's . . . well, it is what it is.