Throne of Blood Records Night
Starring Populette, Bicep, Ulysses, and the Rapture
Sunday, February 20
Le Bain at the Standard Hotel
Better Than: Superstar DJ Toshirō Mifune and the Drunken Angels
It’s hard to know if Akira Kurosawa liked dirty discotheques, but some of the people who like him certainly do: His 1957 film Throne of Blood inspired the name of the NYC-based record label run by local dance-rockers the Rapture and longtime nightlife stalwart James Friedman. After a few years of respite, the label is back and stronger than ever with a seemingly never-ending flow of new signings, projects, and remixes; what could’ve been a simple vanity project has become a one-stop shop for top left-of-center dance music rooted in the past but looking toward the future. Tonight, they take over Le Bain.
Ulysses gets on the decks to a packed house at 11 p.m. and proceeds to show any out-of-towners exactly why it’s worth it to use all those bridges and tunnels. As half of Neurotic Drum Band (with John Selway), he’s responsible for one of the bigger piano-house anthems of the last few years with “Robotic Hypnotic Adventure,” and has an ace new Throne of Blood single out backed with a “Diskomiks” by Scandinavian disco overlord Prins Thomas; his set tonight runs through hits by the Happy Mondays, Visti & Meyland, the Skatt Brothers, and a danced-up version of Johnny Cash’s cover of “Personal Jesus.”
At 12:30, Andy from Bicep takes over and minimalizes things with slow-burning 808 chuggers. He and his Bicep cohort have long maintained one of the best oddball dance blogs on the interweb; impressively, it continued to exist even after they got signed. They describe their first TOB single as “house-infused ’80s-analog inspiration,” and this set is no different: Retro-leaning tracks by Hercules & Love Affair’s Kim Ann Foxman, Cleo & Patra, Azari & III, and a nice edit of M’s “Pop Muzik” sit comfortably next to classic soulful house and Afro rhythms, just as they did on Bicep’s recent Ruff Jamz podcast. The crowd slowly adjusts to the lower BPMs as Louboutins are placed in purses, Hugo Boss jackets are removed, and instances of dance-floor humping go up approximately 35 percent.
Vito and Gabe from the Rapture, along with Max Pask of Populette, take over around 2. By this point the crowd has thinned out a bit, the departing Meatpackers leaving space on the dance floor for late-night trainspotters treated to an old-school set of house and disco classics, with reworks of “Is It All Over My Face” and “From: Disco To: Disco” joined by an extended, twisted, instrumental cowbell/hi-hat workout. The three DJs mix well together, providing a nice bookend for the evening. Stylistically, the night sits comfortably in a late-’70s-to-late-’80s zone, which seems to suit the crowd just fine. When I ask to snap a shot of Friedman, he tells me, “Tonight’s not about me, it’s about my boys,” and he’s right. With this sort of output and uniformity, we should all raises our chalices to Throne of Blood.
Overheard: Two guys to a hot girl: “Wanna sit down at our table??” “No, but I’ll take a drink.” “Um, OK.”
Random Notebook Dump: The only thing to complain about tonight is a silly upscale crowd still obsessed with bottle service. Well, that and $32 cocktails.