I hadn't paid much attention to the DJ Dan gig until I read his interview in the SCMP 3-5-07. He's the top American DJ - ranked #5 in the world by DJ Magazine - and is happy to meet his fans. DJ Falcon (from the Daft Punk Crew) and Jason are supporting. Looks like another good night from Lotion, but there's some trouble brewing.
The venue has been changed from Harbour Road to Western Market in Sheung Wan with only hours to go. This is apparently because the Wan Chai police don't like "raves" on their manor and have threatened to disrupt it. Another gig, featuring the cream of Lamma's DJ's + Christian, has also been forced to relocate from the Galaxy to the Yellow Devil in Soho. The True Path for the "mad-for-it" raver is littered with misdirection.
I've arrived at Western Market shortly before 0100 to find a mixed crowd of locals and French Daft Punk fans. There's a steady stream of clients to and from the nearby 7-11. Western Market hosted last year's gig by DJ Shadow and it's the first time I've returned to the site since working in a thrift store there in 1993. The DJ booth is on the 4th floor, looking down on the escalators. The 500 + people inside are crowded opposite in an inverted "U" shape. Other fans are dancing along what could be two minstrel's galleries on the same level as the DJ booth.
Jason is working his magic and the crowd is approving. A fine blend of prog-electro, some pitch shifting, phased frequencies, lots of drums, and plenty of false starts and stops. Don't recognise much of the set until he drops the remix of "Another Brick In The Wall" which has been getting plenty of airplay this past 6 months. He's winding down. It's almost 0200 and Falcon is in place.
His set is fast-paced with a lot of mashups within it.There's low-freqency growling synths, twisted and fractured melodies spinning around. There's dub-electro drum patterns against lilting vocals, churning insistent basslines, white noise interludes and high keyboard patterns. It's all rumbling out at about 120-130 bpm. Lamma mate, John Murphy, tells me there seems to be lot of Daft Punk bits within the mixes along with some Sasha inspired space breaks. Again, I don't recognise many tunes until late in the set. A fine mashup occures with Blondie's "Heart Of Glass" over a thumping insistent driven rhythm. The only sour note occurs when :Born Slippy" by Underworld is dropped. Some people near me don't like it that much. Maybe the tune is too old. I don't know, it sounds great to me The closest example of Falcon's style I can think of is Soulwax in their alter-ego of Two Many DJ's. People are having a fine time tonight. Erik Hakkens tells me, he's tried to see Falcon before and it appears to be 3rd time lucky tonight. He says Daft Punk (overall) and Falcon "will not succumb to commercialisation. The guys in the masks are here to stay!" A lovely Korean lady called Jun tells me this is "my first gig in HK" and she is loving it. Ditto for Caroline and Cynthia who are unstinting in their praise of Western Market as a venue. "The place is good and big enough and the sound system is very good" Nick W. has been and gone, doing his nightly rounds and Manek makes a late appearance in time for DJ Dan.
There seems to be some confusion as Falcon finishes, applauds the acclaim and returns to the booth as Dan isn't quite ready. Eventually, the headliner is ensconced behind the CD decks of steel and some fine sounds are emanating. He starts of mostly electro-noise, lots of bass and drums and very few vocals, before veering in and out of some old house-style tunes. Dan is not quite as eclectic as Falcon, but he's capable and confident up there, taking time to chat to fans in between mixes, Again, I haven't a clue who most of the artistes are, but I think I recognise the drum pattern from "Blue Monday" at one point. Paul, a Canadian raver, is telling me of early daze in Toronto, seeing Dan do his thing. "He was the man who turned about 10 of us onto funky breaks". DJ Dan is well worth his top 5 billing. The mixing is crisp and clean. He manipulates his FX box of tricks with casual aplomb. Beats are slowed down, twisted through the register, overlaid with femvox galore. Whereas Falcon could be likened more to Soulwax, DJ Dan is invoking the spirit of Timo Maas at his most recent HK gig. Overall, a splendidly compact and complementary set of performances by the 3 DJ's. Honours satisfied all around. Thanks Derek and the guys at Lotion for another fine, friendly and tuneful night.
Review by Nick L.