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Max Graham @ Fluid, Philly
by Groovanauts Reporter (Raven): 07-03-2002

Tantrum Wednesdays at Fluid Nightclub in Philly have become synonymous with quality DJ’s, fantastic vibe, and amazing parties. The venue’s intimate cave-like setup compliments the resonating beats that pump through its incredible Avalon Sound System with crisp hard clarity. It’s refreshing to know that the club’s somewhat hidden locale and the party’s midweek setting helps assure the presence of patrons that are keen on the music and devoted to the DJ’s. On the eve prior to the anniversary of our nation’s independence, Fluid enlisted none other than the remarkably talented Max Graham to showcase his turntable flair.

Those who were won over by the deep and driving, yet spacey atmospheric sounds of 2001’s Tranceport 4, surely won’t be disappointed by Graham’s recent performance. With an arsenal of rhythmic beat-driven electronic cuts, the Canadian turntable genius served up another competent blend of high-class trance, staying true to his distinct sound which presents mixing that is unpredictable, undetectable and pleasingly progressive. The party marks his first appearance at Fluid, and the club’s reputation for procuring the world’s finest DJs was certainly on display here. The mesmerizing robotic pulse which draws one into the first half of the set was merely a warm-up for the dreamy soundscapes which awaited us such as Paul van Dyk’s remix of Joker Jam – Innocence, a soaring breakbeat odyssey into the unknown, and T-empo’s Fouk (Maurice and Noble’s Fouked Up Union Mix), a contagious blend of pumping trance and chilling synth sounds. All these pieces fit together nicely, and the set really feels like it has a distinct beginning, middle, and end—the way a good DJ set should be. But it's really the epic Underworld – Cowgirl (Bedrock remix) which was the calling card for this set. Deftly alternating from dark house to progressive trance and some peak time breakbeats, Max had the entire club enthralled with his programming magic and scintillating track selection. The emotional drifts of melody and ambience were set against incised polyrhythms and bursts of deep-space. Lyric – Over Emotion (Smart System’s “Spoiled” mix) develops on the idea and nails it with 4/4 bass beats and intermittent drum sounds with a climactic breaks finale. This was definitely the track of the night for me and a fantastic ending tune to an incredible set. His encores were crowd-pleasing, early nineties “techno” faves ala Snap and Technotronic which are notable for their introduction of vocals against a lo-slung dub workout.

Overall, it was one of the many awesome sets that I have been fortunate to experience at Fluid. To paraphrase how good the set was, one patron hung around after closing so that he could thank Max personally and tell him that he “kept him dancing all night”. Max has also promised to return to this venue which he has now dubbed as one of his favorite clubs in the US…..and rightfully so.

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