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Culture Reviews
DJ Mad Mark
By Nick Hodgkins
There is a theory that a House music DJ from, say, New Jersey will sound pretty much the same as a House music DJ from, say, Singapore, or indeed anywhere else on the planet these days. This is based on the fact that all DJs all over the world now have access to the same music, and just about all of it, via the Internet. So when one of Moscow’s best nightclubs – Fabrique – invites the thirty year-old DJ Mad Mark from Switzerland to play, the proponents of this theory ask simply “why bother?”

In answer, the why is because foreign DJs are still widely considered worth listening to more than local Russian talent. Why this is so you could possibly put down to the “foreign = better” mindset that shows up time and time again throughout Russian history, or it could just be down to the novelty value of the foreigner - he doesn’t play here every weekend like the locals do. But whatever the reasons, a foreign headliner draws crowds – the formula works – and Fabrique know this only too well - the place was packed Saturday night.

I have a soft-spot for Fabrique. Apart from the one utterly dumb, out-of-character and completely unforgivable insufficiency of toilets – about eight cubicles for a club that can hold 1500 – Fabrique does everything right. Pleasant staff – and lots thereof – especially behind the (ample) bars, reasonable security, quality soundsystem, undesirables not allowed in, mega flash millionaires to a minimum, and great music. I say great though it really isn’t my bag at all – pumping disco-House and poppy nouveau electro House – dreadful – but it works. It’s what the punters want, so be it.

The set of the resident DJ who was on before Mad Mark – DJ Sasha (not to be confused with the British superstar DJ of the same name) – was pretty damn good indeed. Again, not to my liking personally but technically perfect and worked 100% on the ‘floor. Lots of quiet bits then build-ups, sexy vocal tracks, all at the universally very-danceable 132 beats per minute. However, this guy was supposed to be the so-called “warm-up” DJ. Yeah, right. He was playing stomping peak-timers back to back relentlessly (theory: peak-timers non-stop for two hours is intense – things need to be calmed down a bit – and if it falls on the headliner to do this, the calming-down can be viewed by the floor as his not being so mad (a compliment) and of headlining stature, and thus, not as good as the “warm-up”). So you had to feel sorry for the (I’m sure furious) headliner when it was his turn to step up to the wheels of steel. Poor chap.

He did a good job however of easing the pressure off a bit though – playing along similar lines of the “warm-up”, but a little more discerning: some really very well-done House cuts and brand- new choice promos (I haven’t heard them on the Internet yet and I check out just about all new House releases daily – trainspotter alert – but you sussed that already with my mention of beats per minute, right?! But I digress…).

As with most international DJs of late he didn’t bring much vinyl with him, mainly just CDs, and probably mostly CD-Rs with downloaded tunes on. Wise move. Less shoulder strain.

All in all - a great night, and I wasn’t even keen on the tunes. That just goes to show how all the non-music elements that go towards making this club what it is really do make a difference. A grade A to Fabrique; grade B given to DJ Sasha (for insolence), and another grade A to Mad Mark for professionalism in a tight spot.

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