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2010: The Year in Club

By Jake Guidry in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 29, 2010 8:40PM

deadmau5_Drew Ressler.JPG For the club scene, 2010 was a year filled with a lot of great moments. Our fair city was treated to performances from Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Tensnake, Deadmau5, and many, many more, proving that Chicago remains a top-tier destination for traveling electronic acts. Not surprisingly, Smart Bar was the undisputed champ as the best club in the city, consistently booking renowned international acts and fine local talent (they weren't alone, though: Lincoln Hall, Beauty Bar and Evil Olive contributed to the overall eclecticism of the scene with fine years as well). Then, of course, was Debonair Social Club's weekly Monday party, Rehab, which continued to be a hotspot for young partiers, while other weeklies, namely Dollar Disco and Let's Get Weird, saw a healthy influx of two-steppers as the year progressed. Electro was all but waned out of the collective consciousness of clubgoers, while dubstep reached its apex, most prominently at the Subfix Massive events. Per usual, house and techno remained staples of the clubbing community, with just about every major club in the city hosting their own night. Times were good for Chicago clubbers in 2010.

However, 2010's club scene did more than just stick to its guns. This summer saw the addition of two new festivals, Sonar and North Coast, which had focuses on electronic club sounds. Featuring acts like Nosaj Thing, Jimmy Edgar, Boys Noize, Moby and Chemical Brothers, both festivals had noteworthy first attempts in a city full of fierce festival competition. Though it remains to be seen whether these festivals will be around for the long haul, their presence signified a growth of electronic music throughout the city by expanding on sounds otherwise unheard at Pitchfork and Lollapalooza (though the latter did go whole hog on homogenized electro and dubstep - yay!).

But where does Chicago's club scene stand in 2011? It's a complicated question, but one that needs consideration. While electro still has some presence, and the wobbly side of dubstep is going strong, prepare for a significant movement from talent buyers and venues in 2011. As music sites and publications have proven, there's been progress in electronic music, specifically over the past few months. Ed Banger Records is essentially just an afterthought these days, while labels like Night Slugs and R&S have ushered in some of the most exciting stuff we've heard in years. The overall focus will shift from bangers and freneticism to more traditionally-inspired sounds. Dance music will become about actually dancing and there will be a legitimate focus on the groove. Elements of juke, bass, techno, disco, house and grime will permeate, while distorted, grating basslines will become far less prevalent (aren't we due for a new Justice album?). 2011 will be the year we disassociate "rage" with "club" and enter a new frontier of footwork.