Goth, industrial, darkwave, EBM (electronic body music), and their cobwebbed likes have always played a significant role in dance culture.
It wasn’t just that London’s Batcave was as storied a DJ-focused club night as anything with a Smiley Face attached, or that Robert Smith liked to listen to the Cure’s collected remixes more than their real-deal albums. Early on, Detroit techno exemplar Carl Craig pitched his demos to Wax Trax!, Chicago’s pivotal industrial label, while Underground Resistance’s Mike Banks and Jeff Mills met at a session for the latter’s industrial group, Final Cut. And there was musical and social crossover between the Wax Trax! scene and that of early Chicago house producers like Vince Lawrence.
In the Twin Cities, the promoters Dark Energy have been throwing events that split the musical difference between the Goth-industrial axis and the house-techno one. This Saturday they’re taking over the First Avenue Mainroom for Vampire’s Ball, featuring a couple of guest DJs from New York Justin Strauss, one of the busiest of the bustling mid-80s’ dance 12-inch remixers alongside the likes of Jellybean Benitez, and Andi, who throws parties and releases records under the moniker Synthicide (the label’s first compilation is out next month) and, in 2014, published a visual and oral history, Some Wear Leather, Some Wear Lace: The Worldwide Compendium of Postpunk and Goth in the 1980s, under her full name, Andi Harriman.
In the brief notes on the SoundCloud page hosting Andi’s SHFTD Podcast #056 (May 31, 2017), she describes her taste for “anything aggressive and dismal.” I’m not so sure I agree with the latter—a random flip of to a Top 40 station in 2017 sounds a lot more dismal to me than the grimy, grainy, dramatic stuff she stretches across 68 minutes here. These consciously noisy and ill-tempered tracks are also boisterous, and Andi fits them into an arc that seems to gather both fuzz and momentum.
And no, it’s not a bunch of classics—or at least nothing on it is obvious. Hypnoskull’s “Cleaning Heads,” from 2001, is a stiff stomp with a drive-thru-window-crackling central catchphrase, but it’s also audibly playful. And Principia Audiomatica’s “I’m not a roboter, I’m just human (Dark Vektor Remix),” released this past April by the French label Unknown Pleasures, showcases brittle-at-the-edges neo-electro keyboards and hi-hats. One kind of shock treatment, surely, deserves the other.
With: Justin Strauss and Andi Harriman
Where: First Avenue
When: 8 p.m. Sat. Aug. 26
Tickets: $10/$12; more info here
Each Thursday, Michaelangelo Matos will spotlight a different DJ set—often but not always new, sometimes tied to a local show but not necessarily—and discuss its place in the overall sphere of dance music and pop.