r e v e r b

Reveal: Robert Hood live

regaining control

M-Plant - Planet E - 7th City. Thursday, May 23rd, 1996

And then there was light.

Well, garish green light anyway, as video loops bathed Robert Hood's first live set. This was one of the many striking images and sounds that still linger in the minds of those that attended the joint event thrown by Hood's M-Plant, Carl Craig's Planet E and Daniel Bell's 7th City labels. In many ways, this approached the Model 500 live show last October in terms of its galvanizing effect on the local scene. The support network continues to grow and the creative outlets spring up in expected and unexpected places.

wall-mounted torch
Keeping the torch lit [1.2mb .MOV]
audio track only [536k .AIF]
For one, the three labels purposefully chose the Sardine Bar, wedged between two larger establishments in Detroit's Rivertown district as the venue for their event. The Sardine Bar is small and narrow, with a capacity of only a few hundred people, not the stereotypical setting for a techno-related gig by any means. The Sardine Bar is an intimate place, seemingly chosen exactly for that reason, so that even those dancing in the fringes by the exit signs got a close look at some of Detroit's best talent.

Secondly the event promoted techno to more established media (I don't think Reverb ranks up there just yet), on the best possible terms. The U.S. mainstream has a hard enough time understanding the music without it being mired in all the trappings of the rave scene (fashion, drugs, etc.). I'm not trying to dis the rave scene outright, it's just that the elements of that environment are easy fodder for sensationalist journalism (Check Tamara Palmer's dissection of a horribly misinformed Hard Copy feature on raves in URB #49).

Carl Craig DJs
Carl tracks the groove [1.1mb .MOV]
audio track only [378k .AIF]
But enough grandstanding and explanation. This event, which remained nameless (the emphasis being on the artists, rather than some loosely-defined concept) started early, as a small but enthusiastic gathering dithered into the bar. The arrayed mix of Detroit artists, supporters old and new and media types was the first of its kind to my knowledge (hell, there wasn't any room for TV cameras in the Music Institute on Friday nights). While the food and drink disappeared, Carl Craig got the evening in motion, spinning the classics. From "Frequency 7," "Nude Photo," "Numbers" and some of his own Planet E material, he created a perfect environment for intellectualizing, waxing nostalgic and (ahem) free drinks.
Carl educated and entertained, setting the stage for the event other world-class DJ talent, Claude Young. Claude Young picked up the pace with his frenetic, hybrid style. While he worked in some more classic artists like K. Alexi Shelby and cuts from the Ken Collier Tribute on Intangible, it was Young's technical skills that had heads spinning and mouths agape: stopping the record with his nose, scratching, crazy EQ effects, etc. Some look down on such DJ antics, but we're set to canonize the man. St. Claude D'Fader ... I can live with that. DJ antics
Claude's nose for techno [1.3mb .MOV]
audio track only [525k .AIF]
Rob Hood live
Hood: live and direct [1.1mb .MOV]
audio track only [326k .AIF]
Adorned with a snakelight (the new techno accouterment to supplant Orbital's goggles?) Rob Hood was the first to venture into the live "field exercises," the green glow I mentioned above coming from the Battlezone-era vector graphics behind him. These eerie effects, combined with some live video mixing (courtesy of Scott Stephanoff) were the perfect complement to Hood's deconstructions, sounding all the more determined and funky coming straight out of the Minimal Nation's arsenal. Hood's show was everything I expected and more.
After the crowd regained control of their faculties, Carl eased back into more quality mixing, building up the suspense for the DBX live segment. Dan Bell hadn't performed live since his Cybersonik days, and despite a few pre-show technical problems he ended up showing everyone just how far his sound and skills have progressed. In fact, having sparser, more malleable tracks proved to be an advantage, as "Losing Control" and "DBX: Giving it to You Raw" took on new dimensions as live entities. Bell left everyone at the mercy of the mixing deck and dub-style EQ, as he unleashed a chain of triggered samples and impromptu 909 patterns. Though the night's shortest, Daniel Bell's set was simply amazing and left the crowd in frenzied awe (even the other artists went wild for those twenty minutes). DBX live
DBX looms in the shadows [1.8mb .MOV]
audio track only [788k .AIF]
There is no Planet Earth
Brother from another planet [1.2mb .MOV]
audio track only [525k .AIF]
Though the energy of this event lasted long into the successive DJ sets, the concentration of talent and supportive elements at the Sardine Bar left an impression on the small crowd. A few more similar junctions of Detroit's "kick-drum bohemia" and no one will second-guess our scene again. (Dan Sicko)
Additional images to burn into memory begin with image bank one --->

THANKS: DBX and Meredith for the invites, BMG for the DAT, Kyle Tait for the Hi-8 Cam and the ReverbVideoCrunch.

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