We arrived at the club as the clock approached midnight and were met with disappointment as we found only a mere handful of partygoers hanging around the back of the venue. Convincing ourselves that the turn out would improve (“it’s totally going to be an after-hours spot, just watch.”), we settled in to catch the tail end of a solid set of blissed techno courtesy of Demon Days resident DJ Gamall. His mix struck a tight balance between atmospheric flourishes and deep bass, but it went unappreciated as only a lone dancer braved the floor. The situation didn’t improve, with a bare trickle of people coming through the door as Lazy Fat People’s Mirko took to the decks and launched into a serviceable set of minimal tech. Unfortunately, with Mirko relying too heavily on lengthy – though admittedly awesome – tracks like Villalobos’ remix of ‘The Sinner in Me’ and ‘Fizheuer Zieheuer’, the selections flirted with the obvious and uninspired, playing out just a little too much like a survey of the past year’s greatest hits. By set’s end the crowd, though still far from straining the club’s capacity, had grown to a modest size and was beginning to shuffle around, and Mirko managed to salvage things by injecting a healthy amount of buoyant lushness into the tunes, setting the stage perfectly for Carl Craig – the lord of Planet E himself – to take the controls.
With drink in hand and a decidedly stoic expression on his face, Craig stepped up to the plate, effortlessly fading his first track into the dying strains of Mirko’s last record: from that point forward the party was in his hands. Flitting from peak to peak and allowing the sounds of Detroit’s past to stand tall alongside the sounds of its present, Craig’s mix flowed with precision, and with cuts ranging from Audion’s ‘Noiser’ to exclusive edits from Craig himself – along with the obligatory inclusion of some of his more recent remixes, of course – the proceedings were consistently engaging and targeted for maximum response. He may not have been in top form – at times things felt a bit rushed and the tracks lacked room to breathe – but taking a moment to stop and look around the dance floor, I realized that nearly every single person there was completely losing their shit to the music, which goes to show what a good DJ Carl Craig is: it doesn’t matter if the kids turn out or not. Anyway, it’s their loss. At three hours in length, his set was all too brief, feeling as if it was over before it ever really began. When the house lights came up, the beat dropped out and Craig met the audience’s applause with a glistening wall of ambient clicks and pads, letting the room down easy as they prepared to step out into the early rays of the morning sunrise.
Photo credit: Collin LaFleche