Those lovely people at Decoded Mag asked me if I’d keep a little Tour Diary on my recent trip to the States. They even said pretty please so how could I refuse. So here it is, a little glimpse into a week of life on the road talking jet lag, record shopping, midweek hangovers and the Mexican Border. Read on
May 13th, Set at Verso, San Francisco
“The Set Crew out in force for Promoter Christian’s Birthday at Verso”
It’s Friday 13th but not being the superstitious type I’m on my travels again, this time to the US West Coast, first stop San Francisco. The Golden Gate City has been a favourite destination of mine for for almost two decades. I’ve had so many amazing nights there over the years. From the legendary Spundae at 1015 in the 90s, to Ruby Skye in the noughties and more recently with the Set parties, San Fran never lets me down. Tonight is promoter Christian’s birthday so the full crew is out in force at his new venue, Verso. With it’s plush warehouse feel, Verso looks set to become a welcome addition to the city’s nightlife landscape. I can definitely see this becoming a popular spot for touring international DJs in the coming months. I normally don’t suffer too much from Jet lag. My body is always in a permanent state of limbo. But after crawling in to bed during the early hours, I’m wide awake just a few hours later and don’t know whether I’m coming or going. Oh yes, I remember now. I’m going. Onwards to LA.
May 14th, Alchemy Warehouse, Los Angeles
“DJing at the Alchemy party for the Undercurrent crew in Los Angeles”
On the way to LA, I bump into Doorly on the plane. It’s amazing how many DJs you meet on planes or in airports. Stands to reason I suppose. Outside of nightclubs, it’s where we all tend to spend most of our time! Doorly and I have mirrored itineraries this weekend. He was also playing in San Fran last night and is now on his way to one of his Doorly & Friends gigs at Sound Nightclub in LA. Meanwhile, I’m in town to DJ at a Warehouse party for the Undercurrent crew in the downtown district. The party is full of artists painting, fire eaters performing and various stalls selling all manner of hippie rave paraphernalia. There seems to be quite a lot of these Burning Man styled events springing up in and around LA to cater to Burners desperate to keep the BM flame flickering all year round. And to be honest, who can blame them?! Another great night in the bag.
May 15th – ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz
May 16th, Day Off in LA
“A Kid In A Sweet Shop at Amoeba Records, LA”
No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to the biggest independent record store in the world, Amoeba Records. It’s kid-in-a-sweet-shop stuff for DJs. I miss record shops. For me, there’s nothing like browsing actual physical product. The definition of ‘virtual’ says it all really about online shopping… “almost or nearly as described, but not completely”. Close, but no cigar. I rest my case. Anyway, my friend Funkagenda introduced me to the “Amoeba $20 Challenge” a few years ago which is a to throw down the gauntlet to see just how big of a haul you can catch for what would have been the price of one CD 20 years ago! Not any old rubbish though. They all have to be top quality. With so many people selling off their collections these days, it’s fairly easy to pick up second hand absolute classic albums for a couple of bucks a piece. I come away with a bag full of classic albums and head back to the hotel, quietly smug with my swag. I have all the best intentions to head out to the Monday Night Social which is the legendary, longest running Monday night in California and possibly the World but my proposed disco nap turns into a disco coma and I wake up just minutes before the club is due to finish. Oh well, it’s 10am UK time, everyone’s up, so might as well crack on with some work from my hotel room. Another nightshift
May 17th Focus, Orange County
“Midweek Madness with Jerred Christopher, aka Native Behavior at Focus, Newport Beach. ”
I head south to Orange County to DJ for the first time at the long running Focus in Newport Beach. The night is just about to celebrate it’s 13th anniversary which is an impressive achievement for a weekly Tuesday event. The thing about clubbers who go out to midweek gigs is you can be sure they’re really into the music. It’s not your casual weekend clubbers here. These are the hardcore. The crowd emphasise my point with their infectious enthusiasm, dancing until the 2am curfew. We all fall out into the balmy Southern Californian night, suddenly remember its a school night and disperse in different directions to deal with our midweek hangovers. Par for the course.
May 18th/19th Days off in San Diego
“Turned out nice again. Normal service is resumed in San Diego for my buddy Jerred just as I’m about to leave”
I drive down to San Diego with my buddy Jerred who’s a resident at the aforementioned Monday Night Social and also starting to make some great music under the name Native Behavior. Remember where you heard it first! 😉 We hang at his place for a couple of days and he shows me some of the city’s cultural highlights. None of your obvious stuff you understand. There’s no Zoo or Seaworld for us. I’m more interested in Ellen Browning Scripps Park where Dr Seuss took much of his inspiration for The Lorax & The Cat In The Hat and even more impressive, at least as far as I was concerned, was a visit to Rocky’s Bar. Establishment of choice for the legend that is Ron Burgundy. Having been promised picture perfect skies however, the only blot on San Diego’s copy book was the weather, as it steadfastly remained grey and overcast throughout my entire stay. Until of course, the moment I was due to leave. Bloody typical.
May 20th Wherehouse, Tijuana, Mexico
“Crossing the Mexican Border to Tijuana- The Calm Before The Storm”
A last minute unscheduled gig turns up at The Wherehouse in Tijuana after another DJ cancels and as Tijuana is just across the border from San Diego, no more than 30 minutes away, it’d be rude not to, right? Tijuana is a crazy place. Especially on a weekend when lots of Americans cross the border to drink cheap Tequila and generally go wild. There’s more drunks per square meter than at the annual AA convention! When crossing back over to the US after the gig at around 5am, the Border resembles a war zone with people either strewn across the floor or desperately trying to remember how to put one foot in front of the other. According to Donald Trump, America should build a wall to keep the Mexicans out but judging by the behaviour of a lot of the US citizens here this morning, it should be the other way round!
May 21st Monofest, Chihuahua, Mexico
“Kav from Pleasurekraft, Betoko & Dave. The Three Stooges hit Chihuahua”
The final leg of this trip takes me just across the border again, this time to Chihuahua where a mini festival called Monofest is taking place on the dusty former race track just outside the city. Betoko and Pleasurekraft are also on the bill and the crowd is fantastic. A proper up-for-it Mexcian crowd which I’ve been very lucky to experience many times over the years. I first came to Mexico in 1998 and it’s been a firm favourite ever since. From Cancun to Acapulco and Guadalajara to Monterrey, I’ve pretty much been covered the whole country over the years and tonight the Chihuahuhans give us a proper Mexican send off. A fitting end to another great tour. Next stop China. Well, someone’s got to do it!