When people say
"it's just tuneless dance music, but it'd be alright in a club", they really
mean "I fucking hate dance music and I don't go to clubs, but when I'm drunk I like everything, so if I was ever allowed into a club, I probably wouldn't care." Okay, maybe I'm generalising, but in my experience, not only is that phrase hackneyed and overused, but the general rule that tuneful = home listening and tuneless = club music rings somewhat false.
This conclusion was validated last night, when I decided to go home fairly early during Doc Scott's set. Granted, my decision to leave was mainly due to the fact that it was 2:30 in the morning and I had work the next morning (what's up with waiting 'till a quarter to two to appear? This is a distressingly prevalent trend among djs), but it was also motivated by the nature of the music the Doc was playing.
The warm up dj started off with some lightweight funk-based stuff but around 1am started getting into the harder, more "populist" stuff - "Hide You", "The Mutant Revisited", that excellent 60 Second Man track whose name escapes me that sounds like playing a cello with a chainsaw, and some wonderful DJ Crystal style amen mash-ups. The crowning moment was Bad Company's awesomely brutal remix of Q. Project's "Champion Sound" from '94 (for many, the classic jungle anthem), which is really just a jaw-dropping bass riff coupled with the miasmic mentasm from the original - everyone went wild, and by the time it had finished the crowd was collectively heaving.
The point is that this is pretty much the "cheesy" end of current drum & bass, if such a thing can be said to exist in a meaningful sense. They're the tracks you recognise instantly, that make you instantly perk up from whatever headnodding lull you'd fallen into. When Doc Scott came on and started playing some hard-but-sophisticated tracks with thick basslines, complex breaks and the like, my enthusiasm started to dwindle, despite the fact that it was much closer to what I would listen to at home. I appreciated the tracks, to be sure, and will try and hunt down some of them, but despite or perhaps because of that, my body was just not responding.
When you're on the dancefloor, creativity ceases to be a concern. While this means that you can listen to three virtually identical tracks and not be peturbed, it also means that things we would associate with crassness - cheap hooks, obvious tricks and cliches, melodies even - can be enjoyed without the occasional aftertaste you'd get on a home stereo.
To make a more extreme example, Fragma's "Toca's Miracle", which causes me to swear profusely whenever it comes on the radio, sounds fucking great in a club, because its sickly sentimentality, almost nauseating in real life, doesn't seem so out of place when you're surrounded by other people who are swept up in it (plus the guitar line is subtler but more lustrous than the one in ATB's "9AM (Till I Come)"). The vocals cease to be awful and instead seem touchingly flawed.
Speaking of which, has anyone seen the video to "Toca's Miracle"? Bizarrely, it's an all-girl indoor soccer match. Weird.