Finish off the last of the bottle of whisky, rally the troops and head into a brisk winter’s night. The cold air hits your face but you don’t mind because the whisky in your blood keeps you warm. Hail a cab. Ask the driver if he has any good music who replies with a half smile “that depends what you’re into”. The girl to your right yells “techno!” and we all laugh in agreement. 90s house jams blare out of the cheap speakers, your thrilled.
Exit the cab on Bleaker and Sullivan. Take a few steps to the right and realize you have no idea where you’re going. Look to your phone for advice. Immediately lose interest. See a small crowd forming below a cloud of cigarette smoke in front of a dark black door. Jackpot.
Walk inside. Look back to make sure the troops our rallied. “We’re all here.” Onward. Walk cautiously through the darkened hall and down the stairs. Hold on to the rattling walls for balance.
The basement is already packed and you’re surprised because your watch says 12. The air is thick with bass. The crowd moves to the beat. It’s heavy but soulful. You look up and there he is: Carl Craig. On a slightly raised platform in the back of the room he stands somewhat hunched over his hardware. Craig commands a veritable space station of digital pads, knobs and levers. He’s building a party one kick drum at a time.
Craig keeps going, setting the vibe perfectly. You steal a glimpse of the intense look of freewheeling concentration on his face and it seems as though there’s nowhere else in the world this man would rather be than at the controls.
Go outside for a cigarette. It’s a Saturday night during January in NYC. The frigid conditions don’t stop anyone from hanging outside. Laugh with a stranger about the time he bought Stacey Pullen and Carl Craig a round of shots at Movement in Detroit and decide it’s time to check out the other rooms.
Find the entrance to the ground level room. JDH + Dave P spin a slick mix of Tech and Dub. The long room is half empty but no one seems to notice. The crowd is getting down. Before you realize it the room is full.
Walk all the way to the front and get on stage. Hang out with the AV guys. A tall skinny dude leaps up the stairs, all smiles. High fives all around. It’s Matthew Dear.
He approaches his setup. He launches directly into a sleazy techno-funk hybrid. The dance floor quakes with movement. You meet the Ghostly crew. Find out they’ve all been friends for years. They met in back college. They tell you that Matthew Dear’s working on new material as Audion and your eyes light up. “It’s been years” you say. The Ghostly team can read your excitement so they feed you some more. “He’s built a whole studio upstate, and what we’ve heard sounds awesome.”
Matthew Dear drops “Plush”, the new single he helped produce off Tiga’s new album. The crowd shows its appreciation with hips, legs, and feet.
Head to the bathroom. A tall European man with a Cheshire grin is washing his hands, ending an exchange with a dude at the urinal. Dramatically, he yells over the sound of Carl Craig’s mechanical stomp “I will be your DJ for the night!” and exits the bathroom, bowing to the rest of the line. Brush it off and look at the person next in line. “That’s Audiofly.” Perfect.
In the basement on the dance floor you look to the DJ booth and there they are. Audiofly are clapping their hands and sweating profusely. They are just the guys everyone needs to keep this going into the afterhours. They jolt the crowd with an upbeat banger. Hands fly into the air.
Party for another few hours until exhaustion. Stumble into the orange glow of the streetlights. Over pizza you discuss how crazy the night was, how on point all the DJs were, how receptive the crowd was.
“Just another unreal night with Verboten.”