Friday night is a time to cut loose, letting the worries of the working week drift from your mind, and generally get down on the dance floor. When Ryan Elliott is thrown into the mix, things can get gnarly; and that is just what I was hoping for as I made my way towards New York last week to catch the latest edition of Spectral Sound’s Death is Nothing to Fear Residency series. Having returned only a couple weeks ago from the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, I’ve been desperately trying to recapture the feeling of the all-night, balls-to-the-wall parties that I experienced there. A bawdy set of booty bass delivered by Detroit’s own DJ Surgeon the weekend before in my home town of Philly had gone a long way towards satiating my appetite, but after a particularly stressful week at the office, the prospect of one of Ryan Elliott’s masterful sets had me craving a solid dose of that Motor City feeling.
My friends and I arrived just after DJ Spinoza had wrapped up, and Derek Plaslaiko – another DJ from the Spectral stable – had just gotten behind the decks and was spinning a solid blend of techy house and electro. His mixing was nearly flawless, with track after track transitioning seamlessly into one another. In combination with the cheap drinks (by New York standards), the feet were moving in no time at all. Unfortunately, as Plaslaiko carried on, the crowd wasn’t turning out: a mere trickle of party-goers were coming through the doors, and the Luna Lounge – a cavernous yawn of a space – is no small venue. In spite of the low attendance, Plaslaiko finished out his slot having whipped the meager crowd into a thorough frenzy, as he stepped aside to allow Ryan Elliott mix his first track into the tail end of the last record, a cacophony of cheers and shouts greeted the man we’d all come to see.
Elliott’s set started off on all the right notes: solid tracks, faultless mixing, massive drops in the perfect places…everything. Elliott was in great spirits, smiling, throwing his arms in the air, hugging his friends and taking shots with fans. The mix was cocky and sure of itself – even decadent; and, for a while there, he had the crowd completely wrapped around his finger, controlling the movement of every person in that room. At some point, however, that control was unfortunately lost. Whether it was the result of sloppy mixing or the effects of alcohol taking hold throughout the room is up to debate, but Elliott clearly became discouraged with the constant chatter coming from the back of the crowd, at one point even turning the music down low enough to shout a flustered “Come on!” at the dancers. He soldiered on, but, as the night wore on into the early hours of the morning, things didn’t improve. As Elliott become more and more concerned with chatting up old friends at the side of the DJ booth, the mix turned into a bit of a train wreck. Tracks played out to their ends and snippets of audio that should never be played at a party – such as an inexplicable monologue by an unidentified creature that sounded like Nosferatu – were on the decks for minutes at a time, eliciting one attendee to cry “Hey Dracula, play some beats!” As we decided to make our move towards the exit, Ghostly International head honcho Sam Valenti motioned to Elliott to relinquish the headphones, and Derek Plaslaiko swooped in to save the night, taking the party out on an acceptable – if not exceptional – note.
Having caught Elliott’s two sets at DEMF – his smashing appearance at Spectral’s Detroit Is Nothing To Fear party and the absolutely class mid-afternoon tag team he pulled with Audion – I can say that the man does live up to the hype. Unfortunately, on this night, his skills were not on point. I guess I’ll just have to wait until next weekend’s Carl Craig party to get my fill of that Motor City sound…
Photo credit: Amanda Hernandez
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