we’re already late. i had promised friends that we’d be heading down to 99 sudbury street in toronto for the last foundry event of 2014 at around 10:30 pm. it’s midnight and we’re still drinking at my friend’s place near kensington market. we’re chatting about carl craig – the night’s headliner – swapping stories about the times we’ve heard him play, when someone timidly asks “what exactly is detroit techno?” a half hour later, i’m still explaining the history of techno and craig’s part in popularizing the genre when we realize the time.
still late. i’ve managed to get in an argument with the man at the convenience store, but we’re on our way. there’s no line up at the venue and the bouncers are super nice. we’re not in kansas anymore.
foundry is one of a kind in toronto. the toronto music scene suffers a lot from government crackdowns and laws that prohibit events from running late/early. the city saw its first outdoor electronic music fest just 2 years ago, so events like foundry have been a long time coming. this is foundry’s second year. i heard talk of last year’s closing event with DVS1, and i knew tonight’s final event would be well worth the roadtrip from montreal.
it’s hot. everything is hot, from the beats to the boys to the room, and now my beer, which i’ve been holding for all of three minutes before it’s piss warm. not that i care, it’s sapporo and it pretty much started off like piss to begin with. detroit native carl craig has been playing for almost an hour so the vibe is already warmed up.
the venue is industrial, like the techno. concrete floors, graphic construction. apparently this place is a gym by day – which explains the maze entryway through the bathrooms. i got lost coming in and found myself standing in the men’s bathroom while people got down in the changing room behind me.
outside for a breather and a joint. i keep forgetting how much people in toronto love to chat – we’ve been introduced to about 12 different people by the time i light my smoke.
there’s no build up with carl craig tonight. his particular brand of techno comes fast and hard. forget the momentary lulls and sways. it’s relentless without being aggressive – just enough to keep you moving.
the light installation is stunning. the set up, by a local visuals company called artefact, is apparently different every weekend. tonight’s is a reflection of the space – linear, lucid, graphic.
sweat. literally, so much sweat.
shit gets weird fast. craig is uncompromising in his delivery. it’s clean but rigorous, and craig pulls in outlandish references – there’s a bit of soul, a bit of disco here and there, some funk – all layered through a classic rolling techno soundscape.
i meet an older woman in the bathroom. i name her carol. she doesn’t like that but she tells me i’m so beautiful and “keep dancing while you’re young.”
craig is still tearing it up.
more sweat. strangely, the dancefloor starts clearing out just a bit, allowing more room for dancing and less touching of slick bodies and wet hair. relief.
outside again, a girl named larissa asks if i have an extra cigarette. i do. she asks to borrow a lighter. moments later, she comes back – the cigarette has broken, could she have another? can she borrow the lighter again? i ask if she wants me to smoke it for her too. larissa seems unimpressed.
back inside, the vibe is swelling. maybe it’s the heat, but the crowd is rowdier than ever. craig’s techno has melted into funked out chi house, and the 80s sound has everyone smirking and unleashing a new set of dance moves fit for the music.
craig shouts an almost inaudible “this is for frankie knuckles” over the music. the crowd erupts. people take his tribute seriously – some have their hands up, others their heads tilted back, eyes closed. other still, like me, have their hands over their hearts. the cheering goes on for minutes, and everyone is still dancing. it’s a very special moment.
the guys from box of kittens, and some of the foundry coordinators have jumped on stage behind carl craig. arms around one another, they are all grinning ear to ear. and they should be, it’s clear that no one wants the party to end.
i repeat this to anyone who will listen, but it feels like we’ve been around the world in 80 raves tonight with so many different textures, sounds, references, genres, and styles woven together. you’d think the set would have sounded disconnected and “all over the place” but with craig’s touch, the movement is exceptionally smooth, and purposefully on point.
the crowd is still cheering even after craig has left the wheels. someone starts a slow, deliberate clap, and before long the entire room is clapping along, interspersed with shouts of “encore!” and “one more track!”
craig takes to the decks to drop a handful more beats, finally stepping off stage as the crowd continues cheering. the overall emotion is clear: that was some fuckin’ party.
all photos via foundry toronto fb page
++ special thanks to nancy chen