Going to a Deep Club event is a bit of an adventure. The label and host of "DIY Parties" hides the addresses of its shows until you RSVP. They're always at a place well off the beaten path, and you never find out the exact location until the day of the show. The sound system is always pretty solid and capable of handling the robust demands of the kind of electronic music, often variations of modern techno, it usually hosts.
We went to the organization's most recent party, featuring Church Fire and several other Denver artists.
Getting to the venue was a bit tricky, and that was probably by design to kind of give anyone showing up a sense of being thrown off the usual pace of life for a special event. Instead of one of the warehouses of past events, this was at a house on a street most people wouldn't walk down to check out.
But inside, as was the case with Monkey Mania, it felt like the place to be. Going to an event with that uncertainty has a certain appeal -- one that a show at a more conventional venue can't always offer.
The performance space was in the middle of the house on the other side of a staircase. Though small, this wasn't what you would call a traditional rave in any sense of the word -- something Deep Club is very much doing right. It was well attended, but didn't feel claustrophobic. It was hot when a lot of people were in the room but didn't feel oppressive. It also felt clean, and, with its white walls and creative artifacts about, including a piano in the front room, it sure didn't look like what you might expect on seeing the outside of the house, adding mystique to the show.
Prior to Church Fire's set, Brotherhood of Machines' IDM-inflected set was reminiscent of ambient era Aphex Twin and mid-'90s period Future Sound of London. But he brought in dense swells, smooth transitions between moods and textures and masterfully sculpted low end frequencies.
Dream Hike set up as Brotherhood of Machines was ending and where one set began and the other ended was indiscernible except for the completely different sounds. Dream Hike's vibe was sometimes a more chill Detroit techno sort of thing but he really seemed to favor percussion and the various ways in which electronic percussion could be manipulated. Especially effective was a moment in which he changed the tempo on a hi-hat sound while the bass frequencies swirled around him. And because of the way those frequencies were working, a bulb in the light fixture over the center of the room kept vibrating back into place and lighting up the room. Sure enough, people kept unscrewing the bulb, but throughout the Dream Hike set it vibrated back into place to light up again --a testament to the exact frequencies utilized by Dream Hike's Dean Inman.
There was some abstraction to the other music of the night, but Church Fire brought a kind of focused intensity to its set. Probably because Shannon Weber's vocals were so melodious and powerful they drew your attention. If the new synth pop music that's been happening across the country and in the rest of the world had a more experimental edge, Church Fire would fit right in. Still, this is the kind of band that will appeal to fans of projects like Washed Out, Toro Y Moi and Phantogram. David Samuelson's synth work, coupled with Weber's own, produces a sound that is urgent and expansive and danceable. And because of that, it seemed to have attention from both the crowd there for the more dance music material and people who one might ordinarily see at other underground shows.
The conversation was unconventional, dealing with plenty of things that weren't directly related to the show. There were people that looked like they go to check out club music, and everyone seemed pretty respectful. In essence, it had the exact same feel of going to warehouse shows in Denver in the '90s -- a gathering of like-minded people with an eclectic taste in music and at least a little bit of a sense of adventure.
Bias: I was already into Church Fire. 4AD or Sub Pop or someone like that should put out that band's record. And kudos to Deep Club for putting on the kind of events that remind me of why I got into the Denver underground scene in the first place in 1998. Except the sound is way way better now.
Random Detail:In the general vicinity of the venue was/is the location of Panther Country, where a lot of cool grindcore and extreme metal type of shows used to happen.
By the Way: Church Fire has a pretty active Soundcloud page worth checking out regularly at https://soundcloud.com/churchfire.
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.