Music

CMJ Day Two: Parallels Hit Backstage Bar, While A Host Of DJs (Nomi! Eli Escobar! Stretch Armstrong!) Hit Le Bain

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Parallels @ Backstage Bar
Bond Music Showcase @ Le Bain
Wednesday, October 20

Sadly for CMJ attendees, there’s no way to be in two places at once. That’s too bad, because complain as you might, no one can absorb the embarrassment of riches that abounds here during festival time. As the fête boogies into its second night, Toronto band Parallels fiercely play at Backstage Bar to a small but appreciative crowd: Their fast-paced electro is a 20JazzFunkGreats favorite that straddles the line between sped-up, Go-Go’s-fronted prog and Italians Do It Better goth-pop. The sharp-dressed twosome don’t play long enough, though, as they’re inevitably ushered offstage to make room for the next up-and-comer.

Across town, the Bond Music Showcase at the Standard’s Le Bain room reads like a who’s-who of super-pertinent 2010 DJs, with 11 (yes, 11) all-star selectors spread over six hours. Chez Music’s Neil Aline starts things off early on a soulful tip to a very small crowd and eventually passes the reins to Eric “Dr. Dunks” Duncan; the DJ Harvey-endorsed ‘King of the Edit’ takes over and starts to warm the crowd up with lost, classic weirdo disco. After Duncan’s personal set, Liv Spencer joins him on the decks and they spin together as Still Going for another blessed-out 30 minutes: With a string of stellar remixes and a foot in two heavyweight camps (Duncan is half of the eclectic Rub’n’Tug, while Spencer is half of piano-house proprietors House of House), the duo educate the growing crowd on gems past and present. Spencer takes over for his own set and kicks the funk up a notch for the suit-and-tie set; while the view and the cocktail waitresses certainly impress, it’s difficult to maintain both enthusiasm and a manageable bar tab around here. This is a world-class party that belongs at a larger, dance-floor-oriented venue.

Still, it presses on: At midnight sharp, Nomi (formerly of local disco dons Hercules & Love Affair, and currently of Jessica 6) takes control, spinning a mix of empowering early house and newer funky disco. The gathering crowd reacts accordingly. Soon DFA’s go-to jockey Justin Miller takes over, plying his patrons further with funk-laden tracks that eventually relinquish themselves to the superstar duo of Marcos Cabral and Jacques Renault, a/k/a Runaway. Soon, the now-full house is swaying obediently as Eli Escobar takes control of the ship, quickly taking us back to a simpler time – a better version of the 1980s. Finally, his Plant Music labelmate/boss, Stretch Armstrong, appears: The ex-hip-hop don proves his punk-funk worth and keeps the crowd going with tough beats and technical skills to spare. The crowd continues to move all night to this perfect lineup; this may not have been the perfect venue for the soiree, but with this many pros, it’s pretty hard for it to go wrong.