Betting the House

The small upstairs room of the Chelsea nightclub Chateau might seem like an odd place for a headlining gig by Dirty Vegas, who appeared there last Wednesday. Not only did the British trio's "Days Go By" achieve national ubiquity via a Mitsubishi television ad (it also served as the token "club" track on the recent Now 11), their self-titled debut was the bestselling dance record of last year after Moby's 18. Yet in some ways, there was something appropriate about the setting. Hit record or no, Dirty Vegas are still too new to qualify as headliners, especially among clubbers suspicious not only of their meteoric success but also the means by which they got there. In a sense, Dirty Vegas's Chateau appearance justified those doubts; for the most part, the attendees seemed less interested in getting down than in getting down numbers for potential future networking.

She's not everyday people: Erykah Badu.
photo: Cary Conover
She's not everyday people: Erykah Badu.

Leaving singer Steve Smith at home, DJs Paul Harris and Ben Harris (no relation) alternated turns at the decks for two and a half hours. The Harrises' rather nondescript set, heavy on selections from their new Ultra mix-set for clarity Night at the Tables, sounded chunky and somewhat flat. Actually, given the treatment their records received from the club's sound system, maybe the word should be flattened. There were volume problems early on; for the Harrises' first 20 minutes, the music was swallowed by the crowd noise—an especially inopportune development given the number of lengthy, drumless breakdowns their warm-up records contained. But things didn't improve much even after the decibels increased: There was little midrange or high end, which made normally crisp drumrolls sound like fish smacking a loading dock, while even the simplest basslines frayed at the edges. It sounded dirty, but you know what they say about Vegas—you pays your money and you takes your chances. —Michaelangelo Matos

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