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DJ / Dance Fri Jun 25 2010

Unofficial Start of Summer: Ellen Allien and DFA @ Smartbar

It seems that Chicago has finally decided to get that winter coat dry cleaned, busted out the shorts (for better or for worse), and realized we can actually leave the house with (GASP!) only one layer on. Yep. This week marked the official start to summer, with the weather keeping the days long and attention spans short. So for those of us more nocturnally-inclined, it means some of the best bookings of the year as clubs vie for attention from festivals, outdoor events and each other. Many regard Memorial day as the unofficial beginning of summer, and indeed many Chicago DJs and mainstays found themselves in Detroit at the Movement Electronic Music Festival for a long weekend of celebrating...well, anything (and then a longer week of recovery). I was recently asked when I knew summer had started, and immediately remembered a night a couple days prior to Memorial Day: the had-to-be-there kickoff show of the summer — LCD Soundsystem and Holy Ghost! at the Metro — and its afterparty downstairs at Smartbar, with Ellen Allien, Tyrel Williams, Blue J, and the easy-to-guess special guests. That night was my official start to what has already been an excellent summer with more to come.

The weather was extremely cooperative, and what's more, the whiteboard to the side of the ticket window at Smartbar semi-confirmed everyone's suspicions, ambiguously listing "DFA" as support for the show. It seems not only were LCD Soundsytem and Holy Ghost! in the building, but also Gavin Russom, and all intended to switch off for the two-hour post-Metro set downstairs. Holy Ghost! started off after the openers with the some piano-licking disco that those venturing down from the show upstairs would recognize as fellow DFA-member Pat Mahoney's particular favorite. Gavin Russom played for the city he was in, pulling from equally from both classic and acid house. Shortly after, James Murphy — fresh off stage in a still wet t-shirt — switched off with Mahoney, and filled the dancefloor with a fair bit of diva-vocal disco and disco-house, keeping the energy going for the packed room. As Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost! began singing over a couple of his favorite tracks, it was obvious that this combined effort by the DFA family was a welcome opportunity.

It might've seemed like an odd pairing then to have the Berlin-based producer and BPitch Control label owner Ellen Allien headline the night. She certainly stepped up to the decks with a challenge to not only keep people past 2am, but somehow pull the night into her signature techno. She made the smart decision to start with acid house for the disco-loving DFA crowd, and though her latest album had just been released, Dust and her other productions weren't featured much in what ended up being a very house-centric set. Showing she could deftly rise to the challenge, she maintained an absolutely commendable crowd; most of whom didn't seem to care at all that it was closer to Thursday morning than Wednesday night. She eventually moved into the kind of deep house that fell into the speakers, and by the end of the night, was finally able to offer a couple of techno cuts to her die-hards. But the chance to hear the Berlinette play house to a Chicago crowd was a rare treat, and this night stands out in my memory as the first time I remember thinking that the summer of 2010 was going to be amazing.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

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By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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