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REVIEW: Dennis Ferrer at Defected

Saturday night at Pacha and Dennis Ferrer was in the house. Here's the word....

We made a bit of a fuss about Dennis Ferrer at the start of the season, and having seen him energise Space during an early set at Kehakuma in July, it was time to check him out in more familiar surrounds.

The common misconception with Defected at Pacha is that it's some kind of extension to the huge commercial operations of their label. Think Defected, you think mainstream dance tracks. They've kind of nailed that particular niche to be fair.

But Saturdays at Pacha are anything but mainstream, their roster of DJs are dyed-in-the-wool house heads and one crossover track that did ok in the charts doesn't mean you can expect 2 hours worth of this from their sets. (Maybe Bob Sinclar aside!). In fact, the likes of Quentin Harris, Kenny Dope, The Shapeshifters and Simon Dunmore have kept a solid, true house vibe to the party. Deep, throbby music, sure with some soulful influence and yeah, the odd vocal or big track, but generally what we can call 'proper house music'!

Pacha was perfectly busy this particular evening, meaning none of the circus that you get with a FMIF night and people throughout the club to create a cosy atmosphere. As ever, the Funky Room was the perfect place to get into the mood, my DJ of the summer, Willie Graff, putting the slightly older crowd through their paces in there with some tough US garage sounds.

What I love about Dennis Ferrer is that he DJs like he's in the middle of the dance floor; mixing and selecting tracks seemingly just an inconvenience to having it off. Whatever, the energy that he emits totally radiates the room and he becomes the heartbeat of the club. There are so many DJs who when they play, regardless of the fact they're working, look like, at best, they're miserable f*ckers or, at worst, they just don't care at all. If you've seen DF play or take a look at he 'Hey Hey' promo video, then you'll know what I mean.

Then there is his tough, pulsating sound that centres around a classic 4/4 house groove but flirts with bits of pieces of almost anything else that will inject some interest and power. Examples? Ok, well walking into Pacha's Main Room and hearing Spastik by Plastikman took me by surprise, though I loved the two-fingers-up-ness of it! How about Roar by Patrice Baumel or Kalimba by Steve Lawler or even a Mountain People track or the ubiquitous No Worries by Butch. That ticks boxes on most nights happening in Ibiza.

Plastikman - Spastik (Novamute 1993)

Patrice Baumel - Roar (Get Physical 2008)

Steve Lawler - Kalimba ( 2009)

Towards the end Sinfonia Della Notte and Hey Hey were served up in close proximity to each other, with the last track as finale serving as, unsurprisingly, the highlight of the night. The track was so popular 6-9 months ago that it became a victim of its own success; over-played and over-hyped in some ways. After not hearing it so much most of the summer, and listening to it in this context, I realised the track has grown on me quite a bit and obviously the club environment makes a huge impact on exactly how you absorb music.

Ferrer is a master, no doubt, but it was actually something relatively minor, at the time, that has stuck with my most from the night. 10-15 minutes before his set started, Riva Starr was busy setting up at a CDJ on the other side of the booth from Ferrer and his laptop. After 5 minutes of plugging some headphones in, it started to wind me up and I thought it was rude to be honest. Encroaching further on Dennis Ferrer's space, it seemed did Dennis not approve either, and with little more than a slight gesture with his hand (to tell him to get the fcuk out of the way!) and without raising an eye from the mixer, Riva scurried back like a dog that just had its master point a stern finger at it. During the last track, Dennis, again with eyes fixed on the mixer, beckoned Riva Starr forward....."Now, you can play son" and he did, well ok, he stopped the music to allow for his own intro but still, then when the time was right, the two DJs embraced and that day's lesson in DJ etiquette ended. It might seem trivial but there are some values of our scene that are worth safe guarding, Dennis was 100% right to do what he did and Riva knew it. New Jersey 1 Napoli 0!

If you get the chance to check out Defected or Dennis Ferrer, do it, but leave any negative preconceptions at the entrance, as they'll most likely be wrong anyway.

Photos by Charles Turner

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