New York Comic Con 2007

William Gatevackes

When fans come back after the mess that was last year's convention and find that the story given by the people working the floor doesn't match what the organizers sent to them in writing, it would be hard for them to give the convention a third chance.

New York Comic Con 2007

City: New York, NY
Venue: Jacob Javits Center
Date: 2007-02-23

It would not be unfair to call last year's New York Comic Con a debacle. Oversold tickets, excessive crowds, angry customers and the arrival of state troopers marred the first year of the convention. The promoters promised this year would be better. Was it? Well, it would be hard for the show to be any worse. And this year's show was, indeed, miles above and beyond last year's show. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. The organizers fixed two of last year's problems by holding the con in a room twice the size of last year. They also limited the number of tickets sold. Tickets for Saturday's show were sold out a week before the Con. There would be no overselling this year. However, new problems arose. The first involved tickets for the Special Events which took place on Friday. The con scheduled autograph signing sessions involving TV personality Steven Colbert, writer J. Michael Straczynski and comic legend Stan Lee for the convention's first day. It was decided that there would be a limited number of tickets available for each signing to be given out at 3:00 pm the day of the show on a first come, first serve basis (or so the e-mail sent out to ticket holders said). Imagine the surprise of fans that showed up at 1:30 pm, a full hour and a half before tickets were to be distributed, and found out that all of them were already given out. The explanation people working the con gave to the irate attendees was that people were waiting for the signing tickets at 7AM so how could they not give it to them early? Uh, perhaps because you clearly stated on all correspondence you sent out to ticket holders that the tickets would be given out at 3:00 pm? Granted, it was one of the coldest days of the year in the city, with a blistering wind that made the day even colder. However, that doesn't belie the fact that they were there -- willingly -- hours before they were supposed to be. What of the people who took the organizers at their word? Those who wanted to get to meet the legendary Stan Lee on one of his rare trips East but had to work a half day? Or came in from out of town and stopped off at their hotels to check in and drop off their suitcases? They went to the Javits Center for nothing. I mentioned above that the line to get into the convention started forming at 7:00 am. I can only assume the people who got there that early either heard about or experienced the wait people had to get in last year -- whether you had a ticket or not -- and how some ticket holders weren't even able to get in. The organizers, in order to avoid what they called a "mad rush" to enter the con, formed a single person line to get in which ended in a snake-like maze right in front of the convention entrance. Before I go more into this, let me quote something the con organizers sent in one of the many e-mails they sent to ticket holders (emphasis mine): "Remember, if you ordered your ticket prior to January 31st and received your badge in the mail, you can proceed directly to the show floor with your badge. No need to go to the registration counters." However, as a badge holder who showed at 4:00 pm, the time the con was set to open on Friday, I was told that I had to stand in line, which by that point stretched to outside the convention center, out to the street. Imagine if you, like the people interested in the signings I spoke of above, took the convention at their word in this e-mail. You arrive at the Javits Center a little before 4:00, and drop your coats at the coat check. You walk towards the convention entrance and are told you now have to walk outside and get in line. How do you think that person feels? Crowd control was a big issue with the convention. Fans were herded through special entrances and exits at every turn. But these precautions seemed to be implemented with little thought or foresight. On Friday, the above line was only let in through one of the two big entrances of the venue. The other entrance was reserved for exhibitors only. Why they would need to keep that entrance -- about 30 feet wide -- open for exhibitors who should have already been set up by 4:00 pm on Friday? On Saturday, one part of the maze was used for the entrance in the morning and as an exit in the afternoon. Pity those who left the convention floor before the change and came back after. Saturday also provided a number of other challenges, too. The line to get in when the convention opened at 10:00 am stretched from the Javits Center entrance on the corner of 37th Street and 11th Avenue all the way 40th Street. The organizers set up a registration booth upstairs to give out wristbands to Weekend Pass holders so that they wouldn't have to wait in line to get in to the room. One of the best stories of the confusion which happened on Saturday came from an artist I spoke to who works for the Big Two comic companies and who wishes to remain anonymous. He arrived at the Javits Center a bit before 10:00 am to get to the comic company booth where he was scheduled to be signing. He arrived, showed the convention worker in charge of entrance to the venue his badge -- a badge which indicated that he was a professional and the company he worked for -- and asked to be let in. The worker told the artist that he had to stand in the line with the regular guests waiting on the line mentioned above. The artist went to see where the line ended and found it to be about four blocks long. Knowing that if he stood in that line, he would miss his signing entirely, he went back to the worker to try to get in once more with no luck. Eventually, a representative from his company had to come out and escort him in personally. The artist ended up late for the signing, but he was able to get in. The worker explained to the artist that this was how it worked for every convention. But it doesn't work that way for every convention. I have been to a number of Wizard conventions. Never has crowd control been such an issue. I have had a weekend pass for these Wizard events and yes, I had to wait in line on the first day, but never quite as long and never on the second day. There was never a maze you had to go through to get in. They had staff at the door looking at the badges to insure people were going where they were supposed to. Many of these problems could be chalked up to poor communication between organizers and the people working the door. But when fans come back after the mess that was last year's convention and find that the story given by the people working the floor doesn't match what the organizers sent to them in writing, it would be hard for them to give the convention a third chance.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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