This was another installment of Chris Liebing's residency at U60311 under the "Es ist Freitag aaabend...." name ("It is Friday niiiight"), which used to be monthly until about 2 years ago and then went bi-monthly. Over the last year or so attendance had been steadily declining and this night was no exception. If this trend persists at the same clip the next one will be virtually empty.
Well, one could say this party now being in its 7th year showing clear signs of ageing. But stop, is that really a phenomenon of this particular party? This needs to be put in the broader perspective of the German techno scene of today. The style of techno Chris Liebing epitomized for several years into the new century has grown out of fashion. It has been replaced, broadly speaking and ignoring electro, by two new genres - minimal techno (as championed by Richie Hawtin since about 2003 or 04) and hard techno (as represented by Robert Natus and Sven Wittekind). Hard techno does not mean "regular" banging techno, but a completely separate sub-genre which is most noted by its extremely high bpm's of 150+.
Many a techno DJ has moved from the straight or tribal techno of the early 2000's in a minimal direction. Chief examples are Monika Kruse and even Adam Beyer. Others, like DJ Rush were always harder than the rest and got even harder and faster. Chris Liebing, however, chose not to follow either of those trends. Like Richie Hawtin, he embraced technology and it's opportunities to be creative. He did away with all vinyl in his DJ sets and purely plays from laptops, allowing him to mix and edit on the fly. Unlike Richie he did not move minimal, but neither got harder or faster. He had always been put in a camp of the harder side of techno, which was true and found it's expression in that (in-)famous (and somewhat controversial) term he himself had coined some years back - Schranz. This time around he hadn't moved in either direction, though, but has continued to cover the almost void middle ground, attempting to develop the music and prevent it from a fatal standstill. In that, he has succeeded quite nicely IMO, as evidenced by his Collabs sessions with Speedy J as well as his DJ sets, which continue to be of superb quality.
Remains the question why the party has stopped drawing the large crowds it used to. Well, in part it is due to the rise of minimal techno and hard techno, as discussed above. But apparently the hard techno parties fail to draw large numbers, too. So it is a broader issue which is hard to pinpoint. It appears techno as we know it may indeed fall out of fashion, although it remains unclear what, if anything, might replace it as the next big thing, serving as THE common ground of the scene.
Back to the most recent party, Chris' set was absolutely excellent, a prime example of superb programming and track selection, complemented by that extra layer of creativity afforded by the technology used. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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