Magic Touch, Coyote Clean Up, and Roche Take On the Richmond District Party Scene
Professional Fans presents 100% Silk showcase with Coyote Clean Up, Magic Touch, and Roche
Neck of the Woods
November 23, 2014
Two hands flashed dramatically, "It's a shit hole!" This was the emphatic response given to my query of "So, how's living in Detroit these days?" Admittedly, probably not the right topic for small talk, but sometimes my words get the better of me. My companion in conversation was none other than Coyote Clean Up, a producer from Detroit who releases his deeply atmospheric house sounds on 100% Silk, an LA label that specializes in weird things with a four-to-the-floor rhythm. I was in this conversation because my girlfriend and I had decided to trek out to the unusually located Neck of the Woods for a spotlight on said label courtesy of the Professional Fans promotional outfit.
If you've never been, the Neck of the Woods is located on a bustling section of Clement Street, in the Inner Richmond. It's a place that's had a number of names over the years. When I first moved to the city, it was the Last Day Saloon, and its focus seemed to stay trained on bar rock and amateur hip-hop. Later, the venue changed its format to hip-hop and gained a rowdy reputation as The Rockit Room. A few enterprising '60s soul DJs tried to throw some nights there, but its remote location always proved too far for a real draw.
However, though the names and soundtracks have changed, many things have remained the same: it's still a bi-level space, it still has that specific kind of old-school San Francisco hardwood-everything decor, and it's still in the middle of nowhere as far as most of the city is concerned. As we ascended the stairway, a Top 40 party raged in the downstairs bar area, with a DJ blaring EDM to a sparsely populated but thoroughly tanked dancefloor. "Fifteen bucks!" said a door person, who was oddly still sporting a Rockit Room t-shirt. I forked over the cash and wondered how many people would be willing to pay such a high cover considering the cost of transportation.
Surprisingly, It turns out the answer is quite a few. As I sat at the bar drinking a glass of water, I seemed to be stuck in an endless loop of conversations revolving around the question: "What are you doing here?" The music for this early part of the night was provided first by an unmanned DJ booth (which almost seemed like some kind of intentional conceptual art statement) and then later by Roche, a local selector and producer who gave the night some early guidance by connecting ravey house classics like Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams" with newer and more ambient fare, like his own "Psycho Zombie Dreams." As he played, unusually bright flashes of LED strobe started to freeze time in sync with his rhythms. Through the assault, I could make out a few figures dancing around. A small crowd had formed on the wooden dancefloor consisting mostly of the kind of familiar faces you might see at a party like Ha├žeteria combined with a mixture of Richmond locals and a younger crowd drawn out by Professional Fans.
"This is really nice, I'd do something out here, how come nobody does stuff out here? It's too far, right?" asked a promoter friend. A few more people arrived. Now Coyote Clean Up was in front of the strobes on stage, singing into a microphone while playing portions of his discography from a small setup connected to his laptop. He worked through some of the material on 2 Hot 2 Wait, his latest LP on 100% Silk. His lo-fi tracks blanketed the room in gloomy plumes of degraded synthesizer, muffled-yet-earnest vocal work, and a steady beating thud. At times, the club's sound guy seemed to be throttling the sound system, reigning in the volume to levels that made conversation easier, but dancing more difficult. A friend pointed to the dual 18-inch subs at the foot of the stage, "I know they must have more bass!"
Then we were listening to the DJ work of Magic Touch. His set picked up almost exactly where Roche's left off, with old-school club classics (like Aril Brikha's "Groove La' Chord") mixed up with some new-ish material of his own along the lines of Nothing More, his latest EP. The mixing was precise, with a driving energy that stayed constant. Yet, just as he was getting going, the lights came on. Apparently, one of the negatives to throwing a party in the Richmond district is that the clubs have to shut down early. Though still serving alcohol, by 1:30 a.m. the place was as brightly illuminated and quiet as the late-night Korean BBQ restaurant I ended up in about five minutes later.