Cocktal Stealth @ Villa 1898, January 28, 1998
On Wednesday the 28th of January, 1998, we had a party in a Tampere club called Villa 1898, with two foreign DJ's: DJ Entox (a.k.a. John Fanning) from New Hampshire, USA, and DJ Les Nerfs (a.k.a. Albert France-Lanord) from Paris, France, and also your humble narrator from Tampere, Finland, playing as DJ pHinn.
The party had its origins, when I heard during late 1997, that John Entox was going to tour Eastern Europe, so I was starting to think if we had any chances to get him to play also here in my hometown, which was quite approriately along his route to Poland and Lithuania. I had known John since 1995, when he asked me to write some material on Finnish scene for his fanzine The Skreem, which was concentrated mostly around hardcore techno, but also covered some more marginal types of music like noise of Merzbow and Masonna, and John wanted to know more about the music of Sähkö Recordings here in Finland, which was quite much-touted internationally those days, but on whom no-one seemed to know much about. So I wrote for The Skreem some stuff on Sähkö and Finnish scene in general, which I also used as a basis for pHinnWeb, my Web page that I started a year later. This party would be a good way to get at least some kind of payback to John and The Skreem, since I felt that if he had never asked me for the story, pHinnWeb might never have come into being.
I had learned to know the French DJ, Albert -- who was studying architecture here in Tampere as an exchange student from France -- when I was DJing at the Jimi Tenor film festival, Tenorama, at Yo-Talo, the local student union club. Albert had liked the records I was playing at Tenorama -- like Squarepusher's and Jega's drill'n'bass -- and asked me to join him at his À la Fraiche club in Villa, where he was spinning trip-hop and other "smooth" stuff with another DJ, Jan, and also local guests like Infekto, Torres and Moose. I also learned to know that, though he "had" to play trip-hop for Tampere audiences, he still had a place in his heart for hardcore and other rougher music -- something which you rarely get to hear in Tampere's house-orientated club circles. We both also seemed to have a penchant for Alec Empire, Atari Teenage Riot and all things Digital Hardcore Recordings. And what's the best, Albert was also aware of The Skreem through his own contacts in France.
Albert was also a great person to know, when trying to get DJ Entox to Tampere, since he was in close relations with Tero Viikari of Villa 1898 club, and was equally excited to get John here, which helped enormously, when I suggested to Viikari, that we'd have a party with Entox and Albert. John would tour Eastern Europe from the 12th of January onwards, so the party was scheduled to the 28th day, which was Wednesday. I would have preferred Friday or Saturday, but it was obvious that our event was maybe a bit too much "marginal music" for the precious weekend slot, so in the mid-week it should be, then. There was also planned another party for John in Helsinki for the next Friday, but those plans fell through, when the local would-be organisers would not get a venue for their event.
Then it was time to find a name for our party. I proposed "Stealth", thinking about the lovely guns-and-ammo imagery of The Skreem, and the Stealth fighter planes as a continuation of that theme -- thinking we also had to be a bit sneaky, stealth-y, to get this kind of music through here in this town -- and John jokingly proposed, that we would add "Cocktail" in front of it, remembering what I had told him (in not-so-pleased tone of voice) about the Britpop/easy listening/cocktail music scene in Tampere. I was a bit reluctant about this, saying the name made me think of some cheesy Japanese Manga comic book, but Tero Viikari who was our connection to Villa, liked the name and insisted to have it. So what could I say -- the guy was the boss, so "Cocktail Stealth" it would be. And what's in a name, in the end. (With hindsight, I'm glad my original idea didn't go through as it was, since I later found out that there used to be a trip hop club in England, called Stealth...)
The flyer was designed by Jan, who was working in a local Net firm, and who was also supposed to design the poster. It turned out, though, that Jan's boss didn't like him to work on his own projects during worktime, so that folded the plans for a good-looking promotion poster for the party. Due to some problems in communication, no alternative designer for the poster could be found, and eventually I ended up spreading photocopied A4's promoting party throughout Tampere on Monday night previous the event. John also arrived to Tampere the same day, thus ending my fears that we were forced to cancel the party, just because its main performer was iced by the Mob in Eastern Europe or some other vicious fate like that.
Despite the problems there had been in promoting the party, we got totally about 75 paying customers in the end; at its best there were something like hundred people in the party (for a Tampere club in the middle of week that's quite OK). Entox played among his total overkill set even some old synthpop and Jimi Tenor. Then Albert spinned some labels like Bloody Fist, Just Listen, etc., and also some hardhouse. My own set consisted mostly of some old '91-'92 rave, à la Altern-8, the Prodigy mix of Art Of Noise, "On A Ragga Tip", Aphex Twin (the Joyrex version of "Pop Corn" was really well received among the party people) and so on, since I don't really own too many hardcore records myself (or could even call that genre my own). John and Albert played even harder stuff towards the end of night, and some dancers were starting to throw their shirts off (they were all men, you sexist pigs out there).
At one point also some idiot threw a glass of beer to the DJ booth, when John was playing -- obviously that person didn't like the music, or then showed his appreciation in a very peculiar way. The other Technics and the record on it were full of shards of glass and sticky beer, and since I was standing next to John -- the pint just missed my head -- I also got a wound to my hand, which was small, but bled quite a lot, before I got the bleeding stopped with cold water and pressing on it with some toilet paper. The person who threw the pint was very lucky that I didn't see who it was -- the PLUR ideology would have been very far away from my thoughts then, as far as I'm concerned. But sometimes you have to bleed for your art, don't you? Also some complaints were later heard that the general sound volume had been too loud, but I guess that's the spirit of hardcore for you. But in general, the party was OK, and people were dancing, and Entox got some of his Ataxia tapes and The Skreem zines sold to the folks at the party; John even taped his set at Cocktail Stealth, so expect "Entox Live In Tampere" some time in the future. His journey would continue to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and we were lucky that the event had (mostly) been successful. Respect.
(a.k.a. DJ pHinn)
See also the story Entox wrote about his meeting with pHinn
Cocktail Stealth flyer page @ pHinnWeb