Spring had finally sprung on May 4th, and after a glorious day of sunny weather, it was only fitting that a live set by the rising star of Napoli techno, Joseph Capriati, would follow that evening to ring in the summer party season. Along with an opening set by Toronto’s own Nathan Barato, I expected the party (put on by I/O and Sound Mind) to essentially be a 4+ hour, mind-body-soul nourishing, Drumcode-fueled gym sesh – and it was just that.
First and foremost, I would like to mention my opinion of Footwork Nightclub, which recently received the title of being the thirty-sixth best club in the world according to Resident Advisor. What I love about the place is that it draws in a delightfully diverse crowd – from the young to the old, the hip to the rough, the stone-cold sober to the absolutely belligerent – that never fails to encapsulate the spirit of P.L.U.R. Torontonians and tourists alike flock here to monkey around unabashedly while witnessing top local and international underground talent spin. Although the size of the venue can cause some capacity issues depending on the day or the lineup, the space was perfectly filled for Capriati.
At 11:45, I was summoned into the club by Nathan Barato’s funky beats. The Toronto-based DJ and producer has been making huge waves on the international techno scene lately. Two of his tracks are currently on Beatport’s Tech House Top 100 list and he opened for the current “Queen of Techno”, Nicole Moudaber, at Pacha NYC this past January. With slots in Ibiza this summer, I’m sure techno fans will be hearing plenty more from this hometown hero.
When I got there, the club was sparsely filled and was lacking in ambiance. Once midnight rolled around minutes later, the lights dimmed, the sound got heavier and the crowd began to file in. Barato’s set picked up with his signature mixing of chugging techno and gangster house vibes. He got the feet working with his remix of Ramiro Lopez’s D.L.A.S.S., and an unidentifiable techno mix of Inner City’s Good Life. The familiar hazy Footy atmosphere set in at around 12:30am – if you’ve been to Footwork, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Barato’s sharp and crisp sounds were setting the stage for the Drumcode showcase, and I as well as everyone else in the room could hardly wait for what was to come.
Just after 1 a.m., the man everyone had been waiting to see took centre stage. At twenty-five, Joseph Capriati is the youngest DJ/producer signed with Drumcode (Adam Beyer’s iconic techno label), and he is quickly becoming one of the hottest names in the underground. With several releases under not only Drumcode but also CLR and Plus 8, he is huge right now… and for good reason. His set took off with no-holds-barred. There was no wasting time with any twinkly, obscure or minimal sounds – just flat out hard tech. The real deal. For the first bit of the extended set, the overall sound was heavy and industrial, and we were all quickly transported to techno land. The crowd was enthusiastic and totally into the music from the get go. Everybody was dancing their hearts out. I was drenched in sweat after five minutes. It was just how I had hoped it would be.
While concentrating on his mixing, Capriati was aloof to the going-ons of everything happening around him, displaying his seriousness about his work. He did, however, blow the crowd kisses and made a heart with his hands intermittently throughout the night to prove his passion for the vibe and connection to the crowd in a very genuine way. His mixing was quick, high energy and immaculately on point. His track selection was an eclectic mix that ranged all over the techno spectrum. To compare his mixing style to a DJ of the mainstream EDM caliber, I’d call him the Laidback Luke of techno.
Just after 2:00am, I scanned the crowd to find a room full of ravers nursing their final beers like baby bottles as they were being lulled by the techno. The unified vibe that can be felt at a proper rave was in the air. It was awesome. Capriati took the mood from ferocious to dark and dreamy just before 3:00am, playing Alan Fitzpatrick’s Prometheus, which was just what the crowd needed at the time to freshen up the vibe. Half an hour later it was back to the heavy sound. At around 4:00am he played his and Adam Beyer’s epic Rubicon. For the last two hours, his sound was all over the map. For a while things got a little more neutral as he played the emotive yet groovy Stubborn Seasons (Egbert Remix) by Jamie Stevens. I stayed until the very end with the rest of the die-hard partiers, which allowed me the privilege of hearing The Difference it Makes (Superpitcher Mix) by The MFA, a juxtaposing closing track for a wild set. Satisfied, sweaty and spent, I left thoroughly impressed.
Toronto has hosted several Drumcode parties this year, and will continue to in the upcoming months. If you’ve never been to one, or to Footwork, or to a techno show for that matter – I urge you to. You will sweat, you will dance like a crazy person, and you will love every second of it.
Greta Smithies – EDM TOR