This blog post is the first of a new series in which I want to unveil the contemporary music scene in prominent European cities. In a way it is combining my travelling bug and my love for music in an easy digestible format. You can use it as a guide to choose your next party location, or you can just use it as an amusing read. Up to you !
Dubbed ‘Delta Yard Insights‘ I start off this first post with covering Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. Thanks to Basement Prague I got the chance to play out the music I like in two established venues, together with TYRLL, a funky partner in crime. After the gigs, I chose to stay a few days longer and visit some record shops to get a taste of the local scene.
Read on to find out what I discovered during this trip..
Our first gig was in Chapeau Rouge on a Friday evening. This place is located a stone’s throw away from the old town center with the famous, and slightly overrated, astronomical clock. It is in the middle of the party neighbourhood, in the vicinity of famous big clubs like Roxy Club.
From the outside the place looks like a really cool, quite spacious bar. Red walls and lights give the place a quite distinct look and feel.
What you can’t tell from the outside is that the venue has two basement floors, the Dance club (-1) and the Underground club (-2). The Dance club excels in bringing tech house, while the Underground club brings Trap music and Heavy bass music. The venue has a very varied mix of people, from beautiful women to hardcore underground music purists, and everything in between.
Together with TYRLL, I was in charge of entertaining the Dance club from 2AM till 5AM. It was an interesting exercise to transform the established tech house beat that was playing, into a more funkier version of house music. It seems like we succeeded in doing that, thereby proving that people from Prague have the Funk in them ! It looked a little something like this:
A local source did tell me we caught a great night in there. Apparently it really depends on the event, so you might want to check that on forehand when you are planning to go, or you might leave disappointed! Whenever in doubt skip this club and go to the next one in this list!
Our next gig was in Cross][Club on a Saturday evening. In contrast to Chapeau Rouge, this place is located quite far from the center. There is nothing much interesting around the club, but it is definitely worth a trip because it is an extremely interesting venue. Friends from Berlin described the place as “close as you can get to Berlin-type parties”. Cross][Club is known for its Drum and Bass parties and often attracts big names in the genre, but also often features techno names.
What makes the club so interesting, apart from the music, is the steampunk decoration. According to Wikipedia, steampunk can be defined as “a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery“. That is exactly how the club feels, a load of metal scrap, wires, tires and gears combined in an interesting way. Especially the facade and the outside terrace are worth having a look. Below you can see a picture of the facade.
Inside the club one can find a dark basement, suitable for raw house and techno beats. I played together with TYRLL in this room. Again it was a room where you could find all kind of people: old, young, male, female, … The room itself was dark and the dj was brightly lighted, which was nice from a dancer’s standpoint: you could get lost in the crowd, enjoying the moment as a sort of ritual following a leader driving the dance. But from the dj’s standpoint, there was definitely a practical limitation: it was quite hard to see the crowd and gauge their reactions on tracks played.
Between our sets, we also paid a visit to the second bigger room. This room was definitely more lighted, using a black light and fluorescent mushroom paintings on the wall. The line up in this psychedelic room varied from live percussion bands to full-on psytrance at a rate of 200 beats per minute. The room was packed as you can see on the picture below. It surprised me how many people could bring the immense energy it takes to dance on a speed like that (even on a substance). It definitely goes to show that Prague has a love for the harder styles.
The following Monday was record shops discovery time!! I asked a local dj Taïno for some recommendations and the first one I checked out was Gram Records. A tiny and very cosy shop with a great selection. My disco heart lit up when I saw a lot of the familiar labels, e.g. the orange-green Atlantic Records sign or the palm tree cover of T.K. disco. The shop was quite empty, which created a friendly and open environment and made it easy to approach the shop owner. The owner admitted he didn’t know all that much about disco, but he knew a few dj’s who came digging often. He was so friendly as sharing me their favourites. I listened to all (probably 20) of them, and decided to buy an all time classic: ‘Anita Ward – Ring My Bell‘.
When I asked the owner if disco was a thing in Prague, he answered rather negative. He shared he was probably the only one in town importing and selling disco records. Prague is all about drum and bass and tech house it seems. Although disco sometimes pops up in the summer.
Next place I visited, was called RandomArt. RandomArt is owned by a couple from Moscow and it looks more as workshop than a record store. It featured a dark techno beat soundtrack on the background and a sewing machine where handmade clothes were being made. In the corner I found three crates of records and a record player. In those crates were some of the most interesting vinyl covers I have ever witnessed, it made me curious as to which sounds belonged to these designs. I took my time and had a listen to a big pile.
A bit later the owner Anton Kubikov, a techno dj/producer, showed up and told me a lot of people actually buy the records for the designs as gifts for loved ones. We had a nice chat and he collected a bunch of records of more happy sounding music on my request. When I asked Anton about the music scene in Prague, he told me it is mostly dominated by drum and bass and techno, especially a subgenre called tekno. Tekno is a form of high speed techno. He recommended a new club in the city called Anakli and a smaller venue called Wild. Unfortunately I had to save them for the next trip.
Although these new venues sound promising, the scene in Prague is still quite small compared to for example the one in Berlin. But then again, Prague is only three hours away from Berlin and Prague has more affordable prices for living. So not that bad after all!
It definitely looks like Anton has found a nice place with RandomArt!
I ended up buying the Cuthead album called ‘Everlasting Sunday‘ which I only knew before from the sample-heavy house track ‘Maputo Jam‘. What I didn’t know was that the album actually features a nice deal of hiphop cuts too! Definitely a recommend!
That’s all for now! See you soon for a next edition of the ‘Delta Yard Insights‘ series!