In Buffalo, New York, the electronic music community may be small, but it is tight and aware. Word spreads quickly here, as the hunger for club shows drives electronic music fans to any hosting location. The heads and the LGBTQ community joined Friday, January 17, to absorb the sounds spun by the partner / creator duo of Maya Bouldry-Morrison (Octo Octa) and Eris Drew.
“Is this it? This address is a church.”
Our Uber driver was confused. We traversed every inhabited zone in the city of Buffalo only to arrive at a church in an almost vacant neighborhood. Once adjacent to a bustling industrial district, it is now but a place to drive by and hardly that. The houses still stand and the bar at the corner is still open, but the hangers-on hold fast to a life long past. The next wave will be the eager gentrifiers, the “urban renewers,” who will “discover” the next location with potential. For the present, we will be the cretinous precursors here for the party.
To an aged former resident unfortunate enough to drive by the church, perhaps on a sentimental pass through their old neighborhood or Uber shuttling some punks to their former parish, this party would have drummed up the crushing apocalyptic panic of a satanic high mass. From the outside, the interior mood lighting of vibrant blues, purples, and reds refracted through the stained-glass in an eerie and bloody array. And who could have blamed the superstitious? The idea rings preposterous that a good-natured party would take place at midnight in god’s house.
We lurched through the dark lot and entered the church. I flashed my phone airing a ticket bought on Resident Advisor and plunged into the thrumming nave. The pews remained intact. I had imagined a vast dance floor of writhing bodies. Instead, our DJ priestesses occupied the altar. In front of them, aboard the aptly named “sanctuary,” the dancers raged. The community was smaller than I had hoped. Perhaps they could have only filled the front few rows of pews. Still they filled the area once reserved for clergy in democratic, or anarchic rejoice. It was difficult to picture a time when this church was full of worshipers and it held true for this DJ set, which the long dead clergy would have considered holy sacrilege. Our revelers, I dare say, may well have enjoyed this space more than all those once obligated to Sunday mass. No somber attire weighted down the scene. The crowd varied as much in color and style as the specimens in a butterfly conservatory.
Some were dressed colorfully in bright dresses and hats / others in ultra-violet reflectors with stripes and panels / the house-heads in sweatshirts make up for their plainness with erratically flailing limbs / BDSM leather lovers; barely clad, studs, black straps, leashes and masks / options abound; dread locks, tie-dyes, thrift suits, beards, gauges, t-shirts, button-downs, leather, vintage coats / furries, yes, even sailors — all of them good-natured fiends and ravers.
Despite the size of the church, the dance space was intimate. Those wishing to take a break from the set had no shortage of activities. From the pews one could sit and watch the raised dance floor. At the back of the church, a couch and tv set furnished a space to play Mortal Kombat. A variety of goods off the grill were also served to appease the hungry raver before returning to the throbbing beat. The sounds of Maya and Eris were rigged up through all rooms of the church, keeping everyone on the same wavelength.
The lighting made a great showcase of the architecture. Blue pinwheels spun about on the walls. At the back of the church, called the Narthex, orbs of reds and purple mingled in shifting cosmos. The barren spaces which used to house the twelve stations of the cross were lighted in glacial blue. Out over the shadowed space of the frames watched inscrutable cherubs, pinioned in concrete to the walls above. Maybe they would have joined the revelry if their fate were different.
The unity of these two established artists has taken their live work to new heights, allowing them to tap into their individual talents at real-time mixing and in controlling the ebb and flow of energy in the crowd. Though Maya and Eris have been romantically and collaboratively involved for several years now, a fire of celebration and liberation still burns visibly on stage. They beautifully wove techno beats with real-time vinyl scratching. Their ability to select and transition new records on-the-fly brought an energy and spontaneity to the show. The set was every bit as current as it was an homage to the roots of American electronic music. Break beats punched the air and spacey synths reverberated through the space. The show was supposed to go from 8:00 until 2:00, but there was no sign of stopping even at 2:30. These ladies were relentless at the altar. They bring a timeless and unmissable sound to the stage.
For more on this dynamic duo check out this interview with the pair via Crack Magazine.