Despite the technological and musical innovations forged by the progressive-house generation of DJs that ruled the '90s, clubland's focus has shifted in recent years to dark-wave sounds emanating from Berlin, the neon sound-clash of New York and L.A.'s neon punks, and the pop crossover successes of Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas.
It's not exactly the glory days for a 40-year-old DJ like Sasha.
A lot of things have happened in clubland since the druggy peak time of New York club Twilo in the late 1990s. Chief among them: electronic dance music has gone from a countercultural clique to a full-on mainstream force–E-music's toolbox has been taken over by the modern, major-label studio producer.
But on Saturday the faithful were in full force, and you could find nary a more future-forward sound than what was pulsing from the laptop and decks of the Avalon Hollywood stage, where Sasha went on about 1:20 a.m. and enveloped the packed, 1,400-capacity room in a halcyon tide of turquoise swells.
Known for his recent forays into twisted and melodic techno and deconstructive laptop DJing in which he slices and dices tracks and puts them back together for unique sound streams, Sasha was surprisingly subdued Saturday, often preferring the CD decks over his Apple laptop.
Still, his moods were sweet and sour, with the spinner seeming to alternate between the dark, demented sound of Europe and the cloud-parting optimism of his progressive past. The result was a dependable, sustaining set of waves that kept the floor buoyant will into the a.m.
While Sasha is said to be the trancier, more hand-raising DJ in his old duo with John Digweed, on Saturday he sounded almost Diggers-like — bubbly, housey, moody, but extremely fair-weathered. Wherever dance music may land — radio, television, film — Sasha proved that the source material endures undeterred by the allure of pop.