It was a tale of two brothers.* Brothers from another mother that is. On the bill: Paul Devro and Rob Garza. The Night: Friday, November 23, a typical chilly, moist autumnal club night in the depths of the Waldorf.
First up in my evening’s rave reverie was the pride of Port Alberni, Paul Devro. A stalwart in the Vancouver club scene and tow-headed pusher of baile funk and kudoro, Devro’s set felt and sounded like a rhythmic game of ping pong between Lisbon and Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Bissau. The table tennis match started with a few classic house dance-floor fillers like minimal-electro “Millie Vanille” by Chicago’s own Green Velvet and eased into a couple of luscious vocal tracks like Wax Motif and Neoteric’s bassy dancefloor filler “Go Deep”. About half an hour into Devro’s set the dancefloor was full and not a person was standing still.
By far my favourite 15 minutes of the night was when Devro’s ping pong game went south of the equator. I’m pretty sure it was Devro’s favourite 15 too, judging by the dance party going on behind the turntables.
If the point of the opener is to fluff the crowd for the main attraction, then Devro is the one of the best dancefloor fluffers around. Devro’s experience in touring the dark clubs and sunny festivals of the US, Europe and Asia is evident. His ability to read the crowd and nudge his audience into different musical destinations is admirable. One moment we were dancing in the loud corner of Brazilian favela and three minutes later we were raising our arms up alongside an African ‘griot’ like Mory Kanté. The fact that the slight, t-shirt clad blondey could transition so smoothly from a house remix of Brazillian rap duo Cidinho & Doca and then into a slightly trancey remix of 1980s Guinean classic “Yeke yeke” was definitely worth every booty shake in the Waldorf’s big room.
So there we all were, fluffed and bothered ready for the big act. When he came onto stage Rob Garza played the part of big brother, elder statesman: a tall, swarthy and well dressed gentleman. Wearing a blazer and button-up, he was there to do business and that he did, laying down a stripped-down house track right off the mark. Luckily, the elder of the brothers from another mother was office in the front, party in the back. Garza isn’t afraid to throw in a little air guitar and/or finger guns to up the silly factor. Confession time: I’m a sucker for DJs who dance while they work. There’s nothing worse than shelling out cash to watch someone stand stock straight, not look up and who looks like they’re in pain.
Confession time numero dos: I’ve seen Rob Garza’s other performance persona, Thievery Corporation, a couple times, many moons ago. On one hand, I was excited to relive my early-2000s university party days with their special brand of chill, worldbeat club songs, but on the other, I was looking forward to hearing Garza’s new sound.
Now that Garza is performing without his trusty sidekick Eric Hilton, the other half of D.C. based Thievery Corp and co-founder of Eighteenth Street Lounge or ESL records, he’s more of a house DJ than global chillroom specialist. According to his biography, he’s exploring a lot of nu-disco, cosmic boogie and deep house in his DJ sets these days. While I don’t know what cosmic boogie is, I’m pretty sure the people dancing next to me as a three person hug train did.
Garza’s set was safe – danceable, full of trusty, four-on-the-floor anthems such as Chopstick & Johnjon’s “Listen” and a mashup of Cassius’ “The Sound of Violence”. But for the most part there weren’t many surprises. There were no peaks into dusty West African afterhours or invites to Lisbon street parties. Garza’s music was lovely, dancy, but not revolutionary.
If I had to choose one of the brothers to party with again, the Pride of Port Alberni would make a mad decent choice.
* I admit I didn’t get to Waldorf in time for the first opener local favourite Matty C.
A Garza/Devro listening guide courtesy of my Shazam
Best “ass mover track of the night” played by Devro:
“Surra De Bunda (Gregor Salto Remix)” by As Tequileiras Do Funk & DJ Gasparzinho
Best “YouTube is cheaper than a trip to West Africa” track played by Devro:
“Yeke Yeke” by Mory Kante & Loverush UK
Best “let’s go home and make lurv to disco music” track played by Garza:
“Listen” by Chopstick & Johnjon
Best “nu-disco/cosmic boogie” track (I think I get it now) played by Garza:
“Dance and Chant” by Irrelevant Celebrities