Thursday used to be a mere precursor to the weekend party. Thanks to Velocity, Lemon Productions and Undercover Entertainment's regular club night at Z, dance-music fans have a new day -- night, rather -- to love. Z has brought in exceptional talents such as Scott Hardkiss and Terry Mullan, who propel the feet and surprise the ear with a progressive collage of genres -- and who usually don't get a venue outside the one-off warehouse party or an expensive weekend night at the Washington Avenue clubs. But Richie Hawtin's three-hour set at the Oct. 25 Velocity will be the yardstick by which future Thursdays are measured.Hawtin is central to the canon of Detroit techno. Founding (with John Acquaviva) his own record label, +8, in 1989 at the age of 19, he stamped the template from which legions of youthful DJ/producers would be cast. Now Hawtin has a new toy, an invention called Final Scratch that enables access to thousands of digitized sounds, stored on a laptop computer, through an interface that mimics the vinyl and turntables of the classic DJ gear. (No more frenzied rummaging through the crates for him!) As demonstrated on his latest CD, DE9, Hawtin is able to break down selected songs to their component molecules and recombine the pieces to generate a bustling sonic landscape. Rhythmically, Hawtin's pace traverses the few steps from sober to anxious, only periodically hitting a caffeinated spike. Put another way, and we mean this metaphorically, Hawtin is more K than X. There's going to be a lot of that serpentine arm-dancing in the crowd, but no putting yer hands in the air like you just don't care, or whatever. This is music intended to blow your mind and then rebuild it.
Even though Velocity is for ages 18 and up, recent visits to the club have revealed a healthy mix of responsible, working-age adults in the crowd, happy to be relieved of the pressures of dress codes and valets.