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Paul Oakenfold with Dave Ralph

Thursday, March 30; Velvet


The competition that's boiling these days between downtown clubs Velvet and the Cheetah is wonderful, both for fans of electronic dance music and for the vibe along Washington Avenue in general. Without the clubs' ego-boostin' need to one-up each other, neither DJ Paul Oakenfold nor DJ Dan would be appearing in town this weekend, and we'd be left having to wear dancer-unfriendly hard-sole shoes in order to "gain" admission to the "exclusive" Voodoo Club. But we'll let the clubs hang themselves and rest well knowing that the competition reaching fever pitch on Washington is a win-win situation: Progressive house and trance freaks have two massive nights of house music ahead as evidence.

Oakenfold is considered one of the top progressive house and/or trance DJs in the whole wide world, a vaunted spinner whose vibe-reputation produces endless lines wherever he's gigging. Even better for us, though, he's smart enough to tour medium-sized markets, realizing that 1,000 people in St. Louis can be just as exciting as 5,000 in NYC.

Oakenfold's collections are some of the most popular in dance circles because he walks the line between playing edgy, aggressive house and trance and more palatable, spacier tracks; he seems to have little interest in drawing lines around the various genres within dance music and tosses in classic New York house with more aggressive (relatively speaking) breakbeats. Seldom does he cut loose and get all crazy on you; rather, he floats gentle, accessible mantras into the air like a balloon, then spends the rest of his set successfully keeping the music afloat, pushing it up and down.

Last year's Global Underground 002: New York is a perfect template of the Oakenfold sound: He prefers his gentle melodies in the forefront, setting them on top of sturdy, simple beats that rarely fluctuate and seldom get frazzled or fuzzy. Just good, solid trance-house, the kind that will gently nudge at your dance bones.

Also on the bill is Dave Ralph, whose Tranceport II, a follow-up to Oakenfold's hugely popular Tranceport, is a nearly perfect sampler of trance. Velvet resident DJs Justin King and Rob Lemon kick off the evening.

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