Review: 6th Element, Randall’s Island, NYC

Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 00:08:04 -0400
From: Gen Kanai
Subject: Review: 6th Element, Randall’s Island, NYC
My review of “6th Element”
by Gen Kanai
Quickie review. Did I have fun? Yes. Would I go back next year? Yes. Did I like the venue? Yes. Was the lineup pretty sick? Yes.
Took public transportation to the day rave/festival- pretty cool.
Hybrid…what can I say? I went to see them and it was an hour of aural ecstasy. Mike Truman, Chris Healings, and Lee Mullins were all there along with DJ…I forget the name of the DJ. I met a fellow list member (Halcyon) and talked to another Hybrid fan who came out to NYC from Detroit to hear them! The soundsystem was pretty poor which was tough because the bass was really distorted. Still, I’ve only heard them twice before (Viper Room and Louis XIV) and they come to the US so rarely. I’ve heard that Kinetic will be releasing “Wider Angle” in mid July in the US with 2 CDs, or so I’m told. Halfway through their set, they had some kind of technical difficulty and had to “reboot” their system. But they handled that pretty well, all things considered. Who the hell slotted Hybrid into the 6pm-7pm slot? I don’t really get it. Hybrid is much more popular than the Bassbin Twins, even RitM! They had maybe 200-300 people to play to whereas RitM and Dave Ralph had much larger crowds. I guess they have yet to break it here in the US…it must be a little frustrating for them.
House area report:
Erik Morillo: excellent house set. He was smiling the whole time and I was too. I was sad that I missed Kevin Yost’s set. Honey Dijon: never heard of her (but then again I’ve just moved to NYC from LA.) She threw in weird stuff like Flat Beat by Mr. Oizo, and a few other not-very-house-y records but overall she seemed to gain steam as her set moved on. There were very few people there at the beginning of her set but near the end it was packed. Tony Humphries: not my kind of house but I did dance to a few songs in his set. Poor guy- the smoke machine was set up in a way so that when it went off every few minutes, the wind would blow it all right into his face. I’ve never been a fan of smoke machines but he must’ve been cursing the thing from his perch up on the DJ booth. It looked cool with the lights but it must’ve been hell trying to cue up records in the midst of all that chemical smoke. Ah, the hazards of the life of a professional DJ 😉
Chillout area report:
Mixmaster Morris! Very cool set. I can see how he has the reputation he has as chillout sound master. I really liked what I heard and it was pretty distinctive. Great stuff because it was still really hot in the late afternoon and not too many people had the energy to dance. Later on I caught Michael Dog and then Medicine Drum in the “Chillout” area but they really weren’t playing anything _close_ to chillout music. By the time Michael Dog hit the decks, people were ready to dance and the crowd had swelled. It was pretty packed with dancing people by the time Medicine Drum hit the stage. I’ve seen them before in LA and while it’s not quite my cup-of-tea, I can see why they have the following they do.
The “Limited Access” area behind the main stage was pretty interesting. Here’s where you see the difference between Los Angeles rave culture and NYC raves. Behind the main stage was a “Limited Access” area where “VIPs” had their own DJ (Mark Ronson, I think, when I was back there), Sonicnet had their own webcast going on, a massage parlor, and two large tour busses were in place for interviews, changing rooms, etc. LA raves would never have this kind of area so well defined with a separate DJ/soundsystem and tour busses! I guess the LA scene does massive raves often enough that it isn’t cost-effective to hold the hands of the VIPs like NYC does. Walking around backstage, running into the DJs and whatnot, it’s easy to see how their egos get large beyond control (a la Keoki.) Sandra Collins couldn’t walk 5 feet without getting stopped by people telling her how much they loved her set. C’mon people, lets not forget that a DJ plays music that OTHER PEOPLE make. Maybe they produce a few tracks themselves but….
Other thoughts:
– Poor soundsystems all around. Sure, you can make the excuse that they had 5 soundsystems to build (main, house, d’nb, downtempo, VIP) but the main one sucked! and the others were pretty poor in comparison to say Tonka Sounds’ system (which I know well from 4 years of hearing their amps and drivers and bassbins.) The main one was really pretty poorly done. The bass was _really_ poorly broken up and distorted. Plus they didn’t account for the delay to the rear sets of speakers so no matter where you were in the main arena, you always heard the delayed second beat from the rear speakers which were delayed by about a half-second. Enough to really annoy you if you care about the music.
– Sound bleeding between areas. While the space was really large, it was impossible to be near one of the main soundstages and not hear beats from another nearby one. I’m not sure there’s anything one could really do about this in an open-air scenario.
– Bassbin Twins: who the hell likes these guys? Constantly talking over their set promoting themselves, constantly playing “oldies” (James Brown? C’mon!) I don’t really understand their appeal at all. Someone people explain them to me.
– _SO_ much promotion going on…I was handed flyers by the dozens. Street promo kids don’t get it. If we’re at a rave, and you hand us a large flyer, we’re going to take a look at it, and then throw it away, or worse, drop it on the ground. We don’t have enough pockets to hold all the damn flyers you give us and we don’t want flyers while we’re hanging with friends and dancing or talking or whatever. The only intelligent ones were standing by the busses as we were leaving. JNCO jeans had large plastic banners on almost every fence. They also funded all the promo t-shirts.
– SO MANY complimentary passes! I think one of every 10 people I saw had a comp pass. There’s no way the promoters made any money on this whole thing- unless the companies who paid for all the advertising covered the difference. So many of the attendees had a comp pass sticker- literally there were passes for each specific area and then main passes for the whole show. The sad thing was that most of the older people I saw had comp passes when they’re the ones who can afford the $45 ticket price (yes, I paid!)
– Liquid Todd was running around with a camera crew talking about a “documentary” on the scene. I was sitting by a two young raver couples decked out in full regalia and when Liquid Todd asked them if he could film them for his show, they politely declined. He became more insistent and obsequious, pleading them to answer a few questions, getting even more agitated when a cute woman friend of theirs (i.e. photogenic) sat down with the kids. He eventually backed off because he was close to accosting the poor girl and flew over to another pod of kids like a fly looking for food. It was a sad, disgusting commentary on the state of affairs in rave culture. The kids are having none of this mad promotions and self-reflective navel gazing that we’re seeing in these new documentaries. I don’t know about you, but I saw “Modulations” and really liked it. I think I enjoyed it because it focused on the musicians and the history of electronic music. “Go,” on the other hand was pretty weak, funny, but weak. “Better Living Through Circuitry” was practically painful and I was AT most of the raves that they were filming at (Jujubeats, Dune 4, etc.) I’m going to go see “Groove” but I have the sinking feeling that this “documentary” is also going to be yet another poor reflection of the state of affairs of underground dance/rave culture. We’ll see….
Finally, I have to lash out at the crappy website. I don’t know why these promoters keep on building websites that seem to be extensions of the paper flyers. If I’m online, I want to check out the lineup, print it out with the directions, and perhaps purchase tickets online. Don’t make me download useless browser plug-ins and make me wait for slow and useless animations and don’t EVER force me into a new window and take away browser buttons from me! NO MORE SHOCKWAVE DAMMIT!
Ah…got that off my chest 🙂