Jive turkeys and holiday jeer

Going out during the holidays can be dreadful. Everything’s a cliché (it seems cliché season and deer season intertwine), everyone you know becomes a nut-job stress machine, all the non-Detroit-Detroiters visit with inflated stories of their postcollegiate success, college kids gather like lemmings, the bars are nauseatingly packed, disingenuous banter abounds, and everyone starts talking about next month like it’s tomorrow.

No wonder December has the highest suicide rate.

Yet all these energies fuel what’s traditionally one of the biggest party weekends of the year. Why? Well, people just need to blow off some steam from the pressure cooker that is any long weekend with the family (Holiday cliché No. 1).

Here are a few of your options:

Front and centre

Centre Street Multimedia Lounge (311 E. Grand River, Detroit; 313-965-3651) in Harmonie Park has recently opened its doors. Although the place has been around for nearly 110 years, Centre Street has finally gotten it right. Once a German rathskeller that was home to a social club that gave Harmonie Park its name, Centre Street Multimedia Lounge is now Detroit techno all the way.

The underground lounge boasts huge custom-built plasma screens that can be used to show movies, video art — and anything on TV. You can even plug a laptop into the wall and project your desktop onto the screens. The whole place is even wireless- (or WiFi-) ready for Internet dipping over a sandwich and beer. The concept is all about making people comfortable with technology — an idea that’s carried through to the menu. Gourmet comfort food is served (try the meatloaf, seriously), and there’s nothing more expensive than $8.

Chef Justin Schneider is a recent grad from the CIA (the Culinary Institute of America, not the useless governmental appendage), and at 20, he’s already starting to shake things up in Detroit.

Unlike most places with too many televisions, Centre Street’s approach isn’t trashy. A few flat screens, for instance, are housed in movable, assembly line-inspired cages with ambient lights that slowly morph through millions of color combinations.

More importantly, Centre Street has 30 beers on tap, tournament-caliber pool tables and a putting green. (Actually, it’s blood orange — but, damn, that’s funny.) From the weathered wood floor in back, one can tell a bowling alley existed where the pool tables are now — Centre Street’s aesthetic is that much more user-friendly for having kept details such as this.

At any rate, the place isn’t just another trendy new bar that sucks. (Currently, Good Life Lounge carries that torch.) It has personality and is ripe for freeform DJ sets. This Wednesday at Give, John Stoll, Miguel Angel, Jak Stealer and Shaun Reeves take the decks (which, like everything else at Centre Street, plug right into the wall), playing an assortment of down-tempo, broken-beat, loungie techno and autumnal classics. Also, expect Tuesdays and Thursdays to be big here.

Techno tradition

Every year it seems that techno’s aging figureheads concoct really massive parties. A few years back, it was Derrick May and Jeff Mills at the Agents of Change party, several years before that, the Poor Boy parties were huge. Point is, there’s always some big to-do that’s “stuffing” people into art galleries — and in Detroit, that basically means converted warehouses — on Thanksgiving weekend so the “home for the holidays” crew can get a taste of why they miss Detroit. Stuffing, eh … get it!? (Stupid holiday food pun No. 1)

This Thanksgiving’s biggest techno revival finds Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig and David Alverado at the Tangent Gallery (715 E. Milwaukee, Detroit; 313-873-2955) on Wednesday. With techno classics to make you shed that horrid reindeer sweater that makes you look all Midwestern and quaint (read: homely and fat), the Global Feast party should heat up the weekend nicely, a welcome escape from the high school reunion sideshow that is “the biggest bar night of the year.” (Holiday cliché No. 2.) You might want to grab a presale ticket because the promoters are promising “inflation at the door.” Drew Maddox, Chuck Flask and DJ Nova open.

It’s all gravy

This Wednesday at Foran’s Irish Pub (612 Woodward, Detroit; 313-961-3043), Humpsgiving rolls up with rump-shaking fervor. Hump — the every-other-weekly that vibrates the narrow bar — is what you get when booty/ghettotech/whatever-you-wanna-call-it gets sliced with electro classics and flipped to 45 rpm. The Surgeon (of local fame, not to be confused with Surgeon, the European pounding techno producer/DJ) makes his way to the cutting board with serrated beats to move right through those thighs. (Stupid holiday food pun No. 3 — see subheading above for No. 2.)

Total Kompakt

After a hugely successful party at Times Square in September, Paxahau promotions is bringing back Kompakt Records’ team of Reinhard Voigt and Michael Mayer to rock Panacea (205 W. Congress, Detroit; 313-965-8200) this Thursday for Paxageben. Expect hypnotic, song-driven techno from one the hottest labels in electronic music right now. Kompakt’s output has been remarkable — nearly 70 percent of its stock is quality floor fodder (a rare percentage these days). Last time these two Germans were in town madness consumed the crowd — sweat and alcohol were flying everywhere and nobody cared. Drew Maddox and Chuck Flask open (which is threatening to become a holiday cliché by next year).

Shuckin’ the jive

This Saturday at Johansen Charles Gallery (1345 Division in Eastern Market, Detroit; 313-567-8638), Mixworks presents Jive Turkey with Eddie Fowlkes, Buzz Goree, Mike Huckaby, Jody and Kaku, playing techno, soul house, abstract grooves and minimal funk for those still standing after an early weekend of would-be relaxation has turned to overkill. Soundscan doesn’t have figures on how Eddie Fowlkes’ mix CD sales have been going since his street team bothered everyone at the Movement festival to buy them, but he’s likely to be peddling them at the show, so no worries there. The Mixworks party promises to be one of the deeper events this weekend. But really, you should go just because they’re calling it Jive Turkey.

Door times for the above events vary depending on when your mom’s cooking the Turkey and Stove Top Stuffing combo. (Obligatory Stove Top reference. Holiday cliché No. 3.)

Robert Gorell trips the Detroit electronic light with varying regularity. E-mail [email protected]
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