ROAM XI

I went to Roam’s New Year’s Eve rave and I hadn’t been to another for a variety of reasons, so after last week’s Flash Off I wanted to compare the two — the NYE rave was a similar, high-energy house party. ROAM XI was, however, quite different. The headliner, Matrixxman, is a techno DJ so I found myself thinking more of Sequence raves instead.

It was a techno rave with a dedicated bunch of fans down in front and the rest of the crowd… well, let’s back up a bit first.

The doors opened on time, but things were a bit slow to get rolling. The opening DJs, which included DC staples Chris Nitti and Outputmessage, spun a mix of deep house that was more or less ambient, to my ears. A scaled-up version of the Regrets Only parties held at Ten Tigers every Thursday night. And don’t get me wrong: I love deep house and ambient. I play those all the time when I’m at home writing. For the first couple hours, I kinda wished I’d brought a printout to do some red-pen edits on, or something.

The beat did break out here and there, usually while I was outside smoking a cigarette. After midnight, there was a quick transition to a much heavier vibe, and then DJ Lisa Frank took over and the beats were here to stay. The lasers came on and I especially enjoyed watching them play off the wire branches (tree roots? spiders?) hanging from the ceiling.

By the time Matrixxman came on at 2am, we were solidly into techno territory. And I love techno, but it had been an unusual journey to get there. Most of the crowd — and there was a great turnout — did not seem entirely on board with this, however.

The party was well organized, the setup was excellent, the location itself is just about perfect for a warehouse rave, the Martin sound system was strong and clear. The lasers and visuals were good throughout the night.

It felt a little mismatched, though. Ambient to techno. The lack of dancing in much of the audience. The New Year’s Eve party was more enthusiastic, but the music had not quite grabbed me. Likewise, this rave didn’t quite grab me either.

There isn’t a sample playlist for this review partly because Shazam failed to catch any of the opening set tracks. That annoyed me because I’m always looking for more ambient for my writing playlists. Once the party had switched over to techno, it was the standard problem that Shazam has with all techno: not enough melody for it to latch on to. And honestly, the techno that was played at this party was even less melodic than what I hear at other techno parties.

And then my battery died, but that was my fault.

I’m left with conflicting opinions about Roam, probably because it’s such a near miss. When a party clearly isn’t your sort of thing, or has obvious problems, it’s easy to say that. Roam is clearly a successful series of raves, but somehow it’s not quite what I’m looking for.

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