Y3K with Gatekeeper, Teengirl Fantasy, Tenderlions, Nguzunguzu, 5kinAndbone5
August 10, 2012
Better than: Y2K.
Remember Y2K? Cut back to the turn of the recent millennium, and think hard (or just Google it). Now, there are a few things that might come to mind: underground shelters, potential financial collapse, possible power grid failure, computer network disarray, etc. However, if you're like me, your strongest memory of Y2K was the moment after midnight on January 1, 2000, when all the apocalyptic predictions failed to occur. Suddenly, the Y2K bug turned out to be one of the biggest non-events in recent history.
I kept this in mind as I stepped inside DNA Lounge to review the brand-new "Y3K" party, an 18+ event that capitalizes on the current fetishization of retro-cyberculture and Internet 1.0 while simultaneously delivering sounds novel to a younger club-going public. It fills a void left by Blow Up's departure earlier this year, by offering an experience different from the dubstep, electro, and EDM-centric nights that seem to dominate the 18+ market. It does all this while also offering an adult atmosphere that might be described as a less-dark 120 Minutes combined with an aesthetic similar to Public Works' occasional Public Access parties. For the inaugural edition, party organizers brought out deep house/indie duo Teengirl Fantasy, live drums plus laptops electro outfit The Tenderlions, sci-fi horror soundscape makers Gatekeeper, techno producer 5kinandBone5, in vogue rapper LE1F, and LA bass DJs Nguzunguzu.
"Usually I'm not so open with strangers, but I hate this shit." A puff of e-cigarette vapor wafted nervously into the air. I had found myself in a conversation with a very distressed member of Gatekeeper. On stage, The Tenderlions were midway through a set that began with the opening call of "The Circle of Life" and had quickly devolved into the crowd-pleasing but dumb rush of ultra-compressed '09 electro. The question that kept cropping up seemed to be regarding the incongruence of placing The Tenderlions in the middle of the night, effectively putting a giant neon-colored break between the sets of Teengirl Fantasy and Gatekeeper. The answer, of course, was right in front of us: on a modestly packed dancefloor, the best one of the night in the main room, members of the crowd were losing their minds screaming to the rollercoaster-like drops and chugging percussion. Far from being the outliers on the bill, I began to understand that The Tenderlions might have been the only group with a real reason to be there. This opinion wasn't met well by my new acquaintance.
Prior to this, Teengirl Fantasy warmed things up nicely with their comparatively mellow blend of dance music. Playing long and loose jams on their battery of live equipment, they reached an early peak by bringing out singer Kelela to perform "EFX," their new R&B-tinged single. Dropping into club hit "Cheaters," they scored an epic moment that was given physical presence by a club kid who vogued around on stage wearing a garish yellow smiley face backpack and baseball hat that read "internet."
"The internet theme isn't something I'd do. Most people these days associate the internet with their day jobs or work. Those aren't things I think anybody wants to think about when they're partying." Words from a local promoter echoed off the walls in DNA's upstairs lounge. Things weren't packed then; everyone was downstairs enjoying Teengirl Fantasy. Later, however, the upstairs room would form a sharp contrast to the main room, and as the night progressed, it might as well have been in a venue on the other side of town.
5kinAndBones mixed out of the bass music of opener Joaquin Bartra, and began to move toward a tracky set of aggressive house and deep techno. The dance floor began loose, with a small group struggling at first to find the beat as the rhythm made its transition towards a more static groove. The crowd in the upstairs lounge was more fashionable and older, it seemed, than the area downstairs. Immaculately organized dancers in streetwear slowly filled up the small-scale room (which has to be one of the most underrated spots in the city; more venues should have DJ-controllable lighting rigs). Ramping up through delayed pads and reverb-soaked rhythms, 5kinandBone5 dropped out of techno for a minute to pack the floor further with Todd Terje's "Inspector Norse."