Peter Tong at Beta

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Pete Tong October 31, 2008 Beta Better than: Sitting at home rewatching horror movies I’ve seen a dozen times.

Ah, Halloween. It’s a night for the freaks to come out, for normally buttoned-up folk to indulge in wild fantasies, wear too little clothing and get way, way drunker than normal. In other words, amateur night. And Beta was brimming with exactly that. And everyone seemed especially drunk, especially the three people who managed to spill drinks on me in a record-setting span of less than an hour. Awesome!

Frankly, Pete Tong seemed to be a nearly perfect DJ for such a night. Although once a big-brand name in the dance world, he never seemed to have quite the same cachet as his fellow superstars. Apart from his radio show, it was never really clear to me what his fame was based on, and I guess many felt the same, since he has not been a frequent visitor to these parts (at least nowhere near as frequent as Sasha, Digweed, et al). Still, he was the biggest name in town for Halloween, so there I was.

The good side of Pete Tong was that he delivered a perfectly acceptable, technically solid set. The man’s DJ skills are solid. He didn’t trainwreck, never went into any weird, crowd-losing direction, nothing of the sort. The bad side was his set felt really undistinguished. It wasn’t unlistenable, just relatively boring. Too many of his tracks were glossy, trance-lite progressive fare, too much radio-friendly dance and not enough dirt, funk or freakiness, especially for Halloween. I couldn’t bring myself to hate it, but I sure wasn’t loving it either.

The main impression I’m left with is basically no impression at all – I remember being able to basically ignore him for large chunks of the night, which is hard to do in a club where the music is loud enough to damage hearing at times. What I walked away from it with is a better understanding of why Tong has slipped into the middle, journeyman ranks of DJing – his work is proficient, bu utterly lacking in personality.

-- Cory Casciato

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I’d way rather see a DJ hiccup a few times in pursuit of a personal sound than deliver such a slick, soulless set. Random Detail: Too many pimps and pirates; it’s time to retire both costumes for a few years. By the Way: Loved the girls in just body paint and thongs…

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