Monday, January 30, 2017

Why No Neon Was Perfect For The Hoxton's Finale

Credit: Stephen Kazumi (Instagram)
Saturday night saw a funeral of sorts, as people piled into The Hoxton for the final time. Fittingly, the Hunter Siegel led party, No Neon, was tapped to send the iconic club into the abyss. Despite being the host to countless epic parties and superstar DJs, The Hoxton has become synonymous with No Neon. They've combined to create utterly iconic images, showing the world the passion Toronto has for not only its Dark Plur host, but its numerous guests (AC Slater, Drezo, Dr. Fresch, Joyryde and others). No Neon has traveled, but its home will forever remain The Hoxton.

Of all the shows I've been to at The Hoxton, it's always No Neon that best illustrates what the 69 Bathurst venue had to offer. I'll always remember it for its tight, community feel as well as the unmistakable, rachet/lit party nature. What separates The Hoxton from the other venues I've been to is the closeness of the crowd and DJ; the connection and reciprocal energy sharing from DJ to crowd and back again is unparalleled. The stage was always packed with not only that night's DJs, there to support their peers, but others not playing that night, who couldn't help but take in the atmosphere.

This was only amplified when, after last call, The Hoxton's staff would join the hype crew on stage, giving back to the crowd, not just with their injection of energy but often pouring alcohol into their mouths. Ever since the party ended after 40+ minutes of encores, I've had perhaps the most iconic image of The Hoxton burnt into my head (the photo above): an overcrowded stage with Hunter in the middle commanding the decks, book-ended by Stephen Kazumi and two girls on either end of the yellow DJ table. Below I'll dive further into the night itself, with a chronological breakdown of events.
The night was billed as a Hunter Siegel open to close set, and that's essentially how it happened, although he did have help from a number of special guests. With the headliner also acting as the opener, people showed up early, sending the line outside around the corner shortly after 10 PM. It was noted by several people in line that it was especially dark, both because nearly everyone was wearing all black, and The Hoxton's neon sign was not lit. Whether this was done in light of it being a No Neon event inside or otherwise (it was not on for Joyryde the weekend prior), it seemed fitting.

Once inside I was greeted by countless familiar faces, both known acquaintances and unnamed revelers whom I had unknowingly partied with before. The scene was bittersweet, knowing that this would be my last time in such comfortable confines. The music in the early going was also easy and familiar, Hunter coming on the mic to say "I'm taking it easy right now cause we've got a lot left." The first few tracks I can recall include SNBRN and Sevenn's "What You Need" mixed into Hunter's "Bootleg Beat Control," shortly followed by his Wax Motif collab "All Night Man." Sometime later, after greeting more friends, Hunter dropped more of my favourite tracks including Wax Motif's "Krush Groove," and Gesaffelstein's "Control Movement" into the crazy good collab "OTF," which was birthed at No Neon early last year. It was at this point that I got close to the front of the stage, the floor felt like it was going to fall out from under us, and I began taking video after video (all on my Twitter, starting here).

Before the night began, Hunter tweeted about having "entirely new 6hrs" and while he proceeded to play a hell of a lot of new material, including his forthcoming remix of Grandtheft's "Easy Go," he also treated us to an onslaught of nostalgia. At once point he went from Skrillex's "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites," to DJ Snake's "New Slaves," to RL Grime's "Love Sosa" and Rusko's "Woo Boost."

Being so close to the front, I noticed my favourite spot at the left side of the stage was open and proceeded to take a couple videos that I hope encapsulate the connection between DJ and crowd, which made it my favourite spot to take in events at The Hoxton. While the view is occasionally obstructed by photographers, there is no better way to take in the interaction between DJ and crowd. The two videos (here and here) show the peak of Hunter's set before the special guests came out.

Hunter was joined on stage by Grandtheft, Sleepy Tom, Omar LinX, Zeds Dead and Keys N Krates. There was a lot of back to back action as Grandtheft dropped Gesaffelstein's "Pursuit," Sleepy Tom with Cesqeaux's "The Dopest," then Grandtheft again with Skepta's "Shutdown," to which Hunter clapped back with Klaxx's "Dead," which lead into the following video, in turn leading into Grandtheft's "Flying." Things started to get foggy for me following this, perhaps the party was getting too lit for me to handle. I also stopped tweeting for more than 30 mins, maybe because my phone was about to die.

By this time the crowd was starting to thin out, however I had promised myself I'd stay till the bitter end, wanting to see the lights come on one last time, wondering what the last track to come out of The Hoxton's speakers would be. Before the seemingly endless encores and outpouring of love from both the fans and the DJs, I was able to capture a couple more videos (here and here). Both came before 3AM while the final track, Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold," was dropped at approximately 4:35. Despite continued chants of "One more song! One more song!" "We're going till 6!" "They're going to have to drag us out of here!" the plug was finally pulled and The Hoxton was essentially no more. I leave you the image and video below, both from Stephen Kazumi. Here's to more No Neon's in the future!
Credit: Hunter Siegel via (Stephen Kazumi)