Fear of Flying

Interactive shows always sound good on paper but are usually scary in real life. This is why I ducked out of going to De La Guarda's DJ Connection series during last summer's run. But after many pleadings from promoter (he prefers "producer") Elan Akerman, I finally caved.

While the possibility of getting drenched in water wasn't appealing, seeing a bizarre sky-high trapeze show was (not to mention hearing first-rate deep house and tech house DJs between sets). West Coast jock Doc Martin was slated to perform last Thursday's show, but the Doc canceled a string of DJ dates for health reasons. His venerable replacement was Philly's Pete Moss, who reminded me that dance music doesn't have to sound like a rehashed version of early-'80s crap.

Having never been to see De La Guarda, I was surprised by the range of people in the audience: Families with kids, college students, and clubbers mingled in the Daryl Roth Theatre. For some inexplicable reason, nearly everyone was coupled up. I don't know about you, but freaky shows featuring trapeze artists just make me want to make out in public with my (nonexistent) significant other.

The full-out rainstorm that commenced midway through the show had me shrinking in the corner, but it was the news that the cast members swoop into the audience, pick up unsuspecting folks, and fly them around that had me most terrified. More perplexing is that people actually volunteer to be swung around—like Canadian techno DJ Misstress Barbara, who was in attendance that night, and Carl Cox, who was the guest of honor the week before. Mr. Cox got taken for a joyride—something I wish I had seen, since the gap-toothed DJ is a mere 250-plus pounds.

When Elan is not hounding me to attend one of the De La Guarda parties, we talk smack about trendy New Yorkers who leave the house wearing outfits that are so awful they make Donatella Versace look classy. The mullets have been replaced by trucker hats, and there is no shortage of silly trends needing to be trashed. Elan's little side project, Wabulous.com (short for "wanna-be fabulous," dears), is sort of like the "Dos and Don'ts" in Vice magazine, but it only features the truly absurd (because no one really cares about the Dos, do they?). There isn't any snotty commentary, either—none is necessary, since the picture of the poor person is sufficient. The first posted photo is of a man posing like a peacock in a Gladiator-esque outfit he seems most proud to be wearing. Clicking on the photo links you to Fischerspooner's home page, which is somehow just perfect.

Also perfect is the fact that the shot was taken at a recent Paper magazine event held at Plaid, the former Spa that's been renovated and revamped as a "rock" club. ("The only thing going on in New York is Pianos and Plaid," says Elan. "Woof.")

Plaid's not a rock club in the vein of CBGB, mind you, but a rock DJ club, 'cause you know, "rock is the new dance." Rock's newly hyped status is such that there are a ton of clubs with rock nights featuring music spun by DJs that surely would have been mocked just a year ago. (I'm not talking about "cool" stuff like Interpol, but rather Bon Jovi.)

The rock resurgence, which, given the state of radio, I'm convinced is happening entirely within the confines of New York and London, is now big enough that it already has its own documentary: S.A. Crary's Kill Your Idols was shot around town over the last two years and features New York bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Liars, A.R.E. Weapons, Gogol Bordello, Black Dice, and Flux Information Sciences. Interviews with luminaries like Suicide, Lydia Lunch, and Sonic Youth help flesh out the connection between the young upstarts and their legendary heroes.

But the sure sign that the trend is at its peak is the fact that Jack White of the White Stripes is now cool enough to date a bona fide Hollywood celebrity, Renée Zellweger.

And all these new promoters are merely tapping into the audience that the Motherfucker posse has cultivated for the last two years. Mofo's Michael T told me at Lit—a real rock venue—that they enjoyed a 1,200-strong house at last week's pre-Fourth of July party at Eugene (not a real rock venue). I told him they should go ahead and open their own club already, to which he coyly replied that they might be looking. There may be hope for this town yet.


tromano@villagevoice.com.

 
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