Despite its air of so-called European coolness, Montréal is actually a pretty tame city. Sure, we French-Canadians are passionate lovers (at least I know I am), demonstrative dancers and overall hedonistic partiers, but at its very core, our metropolis is cursed by a rather WASP-ish ethic of fun: work until 9:00 p.m., dance from midnight to 3:00 AM, then off to bed. (By that point in the night, parties in Berlin or London are just getting fucking started.) For people to actually pull an all-nighter around here, it has to be fucking institutionalized... hence the Nuit Blanche events. Each February, for one weekend, everything downtown is open until the wee hours of the morning: museums, planetariums, clubs. There are light shows on the street. Shit, you can even catch a free breakfast in a mall at 8:00 a.m. if watching the sun rise while standing in the minus 40 Celsius cold is, you know, not your thang.
So what else could be better than having Ricardo "King of Minimaliscious Excesses" Villalobos to celebrate the Mutek-sponsored part of the night, eh? Now let's get that fat pink elephant right out of the room right away: I don't do drugs. I dunno, call me chicken, but I never was interested in chemical stuff; not even pot, now that I think of it. My inner thoughts were (and, in a way, still are) always so confusing, wild and fucked-up I never actually felt the need to chemically enhance my (night)life. But from what I hear from every corner of the Internet, it takes a huge pile of K to fully understand, let alone enjoy, 'Enfants (Chants)', so you can understand this boy's apprehensions for his first Villalobos experience. For someone who has never been able to listen to that Fabric mix in its entirety more than once, this Nuit Blanche was definitely going to be something worth staying awake for.
Turns out the rumors surrounding Ricardo's (I'm calling him by his first now nowadays, it's a French-Canadian thing) less-is-less-is-less-is-more craft are greatly exaggerated. Sure, at the beginning of his set, clicky beats and pretty much nothing else were aplenty, but the guy has this dandy-esque nonchalance behind the decks that makes him as fascinating to watch as he is to listen to. For a while, in early evening, Montrealers in attendance had nothing more to do than admire his effeminate play with the console buttons and the occasional brushing of the hair. At one point, while sipping on our beer and quietly head nodding, my ex-roommate and I just stood there on the dancefloor wondering if Ricardo had an asparagus or mushroom-shaped penis (blame the absence of kick drums for that). But then, with the remixed sound of Nina Simone's 'Sinnerman' (attributed here and there to Felix Da Housecat, but somehow I have a hard time believing that), the until-now amorphous crowd was literally awaken and captivated. He'd throw in the mandatory South American music sample for good measure here and there—at this point, I guess fans would be disappointed if he didn't—but overall, his set was surprisingly bouncy. In other words, Ricardo in live mode has the intuition to go beyond strict minimalist paradigms and opt for good 'ole proper, *gulp*, techno. And it is seriously less serious than his recent cerebral seizure-inducing cuts suggested.
With the help of fellow Chilean Dandy Jack, and together as Ric y Martin, the evening got a little bit more noisier, most notably with the speakers spewing aggressive and irritating live synth pads that were poorly mastered. That said, it probably sounded amazing for those on cheep speed. But by the time Ricardo got back behind the decks, it was 5:00 AM already and yours truly was on his way home. Please don't give me shit for leaving this early, though: after all, I am only a Montrealer.
Photo credit: Miguel Legault