The original members of dance music’s most devoted fraternity were out in force on July 28 at Vinyl to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Paradise Garage, a dead disco (closed in 1987) now more mythic than even Studio 54. Anticipation was high for the bash (organized by Shelter and Mel Cheren, cofounder of West End Records), particularly since the lineup was so impeccable: DJs Joey Llanos and David DePino, who both regularly filled in for Garage’s now deceased resident DJ godhead, Larry Levan, plus a performance by Garage favorite Grace Jones.
Many clubbers—too young to have attended the original venue—had come eager to experience a simulation of what it was like in the pre-crackdown days. Despite the mediocre sound system and the ban on illegal substances, the old magic was apparent. The club was decorated with Keith Haring drawings from the original venue. Garage memorabilia was laid out on tables. Older, wiser, and fatter around the middle, the largely middle-aged crowd still knew how to spin on a dime and trip the light fantastic on the dancefloor to such underground anthems as Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face?” and Touch’s “Without You.”
Finally, at 5 a.m., Grace Jones—wearing the same sculpted outfits she sported at the Garage in the ’80s—hit the stage for a run-through of her greatest hits, such as “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “My Jamaican Guy,” and “La Vie en Rose.” Jones nearly brought the house down when she flashed the audience with her still perfectly toned buttocks. —Frank Owen
Love Is the Devil
“I notice there’s a lot of girls here,” proclaimed a sincere but clearly bemused Sean Daley from the Knitting Factory stage on July 26, surveying a sold-out crowd that was 20 percent female at best. Among cyber MCs, prepubescent rap obscurantists, and the occasional baggy-jeaned female fan, Daley, better known as Slug, main man of Minneapolis indie hip-hop hopes Atmosphere, is a veritable celebrity. The 28-year-old MC wears the sex-symbol thing comfortably, a welcome price of fame.
But even this modicum of notoriety leaves Slug torn. On “It Goes,” he raps, “I bet my fans know me better than my friends do/Because my friends don’t pay that much attention.” The nerdcore raps along, but Slug keeps eyeing their women. During the night’s romantic height—the fairer-sex odes “Woman With the Tattooed Hands” and “The Abusing of the Rib”—a troika of girls gets perpendicular over the balcony railing, yelping Slug’s name. When Slug revels in his lover’s experience (“Forget about the fact that many trails have been tracked/Maybe it’s a plus that there’s a path/If this was some uncharted land, I’d have to be a smarter man”), they squeal with delight.
Romance cuts both ways, though. When “Rib” is over, Slug giggles, “I changed my mind. Fuck that bitch,” then glides into a rap about “beautiful, psycho, and spiteful women,” bizarrely inciting more female roars. After a disappointingly brief set, the lothario jumps into the crowd. Wading through a sea of admirers, Slug receives pounds and attempted kisses, loses his cap, and throws inadvertent ‘bows to break through the rush. Said one message board-posting victim of the swell, “[This] little dime piece was like ‘Oh my god, do you know who just hit you?’ and than [sic] she gave chase with the rest of the lemmings.” Almost an hour later, a gaggle of doe eyes kept the devilish charmer pressed up against the wall of the Knit’s lounge, signing T’s and CDs and promising to come back real soon. —Jon Caramanica
Madge, I’m Soaking in It
In retrospect, the people who saw Thursday night’s Madonna show—the one she didn’t cancel—in the drowned world of the Meadowlands are probably feeling pretty good about it. At the time, they might have been less enthusiastic. Her voice didn’t sound so bad (go figure), but she’s doing new material, and there were way more O-ring bracelets than cowboy hats at the tailgates.
The crowd was primed to explode at her entrance, even though—don’t they read the papers?—most of the show is a downer. If you were burning a CD for a party, would you sequence “Substitute for Love,” “Impressive Instant,” “Candy Perfume Girl,” and “Beautiful Stranger” before “Ray of Light”? No you would not. Even that last one didn’t take off until the end, when she brought out the whole cast for a club scene. Finally, we could dance. As ever, she’s got the power to realize her craziest ideas, even the bad ones. She’s justifiably proud of the last two records, and if you don’t want to hear them in a hockey rink you can keep your $125 per. She’s down with the globalist chic, and if she wants to combine Chinese martial arts choreography with Japanese costumes and graphics (Crouching Tiger, Rising Sun?), no one can stop her, although it helps that her wu xia moves are only slightly less believable than Chow Yun-Fat’s. Restage Blade Runner à la Vivienne Westwood? Scramble Herb Ritts and Sebastião Salgado? You’re the boss.
And of course, she’s shrewd enough to end her Spectacular Spectacular with a bang. After a condescending faux-country number, she drops a stunning back-to-back of “Secret” and “Gone,” changes costume during a quick tango, makes a slow salsa—en español—of “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” and finally uncorks a cubana “La Isla Bonita” and a pimped-out O.G. “Holiday.” She does “Music” for an encore, with glitter-confetti and routines that look much better in real life than in those wide-angle MTV-awards crane shots you’ll see on HBO. On the monitors, she screens a spiteful lightning-cut madeleine montage of her video evolution from “Lucky Star” to date. We were flooded. I guess that explains the title. —Josh Goldfein