Stompy and Sunset present Kyle Hall and DJ Deep
Sunday, May 26 2013
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as a I felt a hand slide down my back. It was a short brunette in a carnival mask. "Do you have... strong eyes?" she asked with an Eastern European accent. Startled, I gave her a confused look -- then saw how dilated her eyes were. "I said, do you have strong eyes? I need you to look for... my friend, she's blonde... and wearing a mask... please." Not wanting to be a buzzkill, I made a small attempt at the impossible task of scanning the 1000+ person crowd dancing below. It was a futile gesture. This being Carnival, half the audience was in some kind of costume. I turned to offer a response, but before I could, some guy in a T-shirt and fedora tapped me on the shoulder and began shouting, "Hey, are you make her?" Closing in, he made a fist while looking very unfriendly. I searched for some way to convey the degree to which I was not interested in "making" this guy's girlfriend. I tried to look to the brunette for some help, but she'd slipped behind a wall of people to poach some guy's bottle service.
Violence erupted, but instead of it being directed at me, the fedora began humping his clenched fist with wild jerking hip movements. It looked painful. He continued to thrust, repeating, "You want make her?!" I really had no idea what to say. "Jesus christ, I don't think you unde" he threw out a few more, stopped mid-thrust, giggled the kind of laugh that tends to come from the severely twisted, and walked off to tap someone else on the shoulder. I was left wondering what kind of life experiences cause PTSD. Then the music shifted. From the DJ booth, Solar brought up the volume on a flurry of bassline-led sampled breaks, and my memory of this encounter receded to haunt me another day.
Pulsing lights and booming sound. It was 7 p.m., and it felt like Cafe Cocomo was in the throes of a collective chemical peak (and considering the party started at 2 p.m., it probably was). As the energy surged, I paused a moment to take in the venue itself. It's fantastically huge, with multiple levels and rooms that look like they haven't been touched since the mid-'90s. The promoters had outfitted the main dancefloor with four speaker towers and white decorative blocks arranged to resemble a digital VU meter. The people melted together into a blob-like mass punctuated occasionally by bits of individuality: a circle of house dancers executing backflips, some conga drummers fruitlessly hammering away, two large girls wearing thin strips of tape over their nipples, and a man in a fuzzy purple suit who kept throwing his hands up like the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man meme.
It was this crowd, and its exuberant feeling, that young Detroit techno selector Kyle Hall inherited around 8:45 p.m. As he cued his first cut down, three of the girls dancing in front of the decks threw their hands up towards his face in an act of grabby adulation. Volume one down, volume two up, and from there the night fell into an uptempo smear of dancing and sweating. Hall started carefully, with a string of '90s underground house records that featured punched-up hi-hats and barely recognizable disco samples -- the bassline from Roy Ayers "Running Away," the chorus from Chaka Khan's "I Know You, I Live You," and pieces of Tom Browne's "Funkin' For Jamaica." In the corner, a guy in a Wild Oats (that's Hall's record label) T-shirt nodded his head in approval.
It was a killer beginning, and Hall followed it with a considered set that hit both extreme highs (some remix of Sylvester's "I Need You," Andres' "Moments in Life") and murky lows (Screamin' Rachel's "Rock Me," Mike Grant's "The Struggle of my People"). The early energy intensified as Hall became increasingly animated behind the decks. One of the girls up front was so moved that she got up onto the thin ledge behind him and began striking poses in her leopard-print harem pants. As she moved, her shadow obscured a projection of flames that had engulfed the VU meter sculpture behind her.
There was a lawless feeling to it all. Except for the fact that this venue is actually legit, you'd have had an easy time convincing someone that it was a warehouse party. As a whole, everyone seemed on the same page of losing themselves in this mammoth of a venue on the far edge of the Dogpatch. That said, there did seem to be a little attrition as the night wore on. When Hall finished, Parisian house spinner DJ Deep took a turn toward the bland with a straightforward set of standard-issue contemporary house tracks that lacked the dramatic scope of what had come before. The ambient enthusiasm sagged, and I decided it was time to step out.