Night falls

Industrial makes a comeback
By DAVID DAY  |  May 15, 2007

DJ Chris Ewen

DJ Mothra, "Demo Mix" (mp3)
DJezus, "I Can Be Black" (mp3)

Boston clubland is starting to get a bit dark. From Axis to Phoenix Landing to Flattop Johnny’s, industrial music and its offspring — mainly the sound of machines and despair — are beginning to retake the night. To many who remember ManRay in Central Square, this is a welcome event; to some newbies, everything old is new again. “What I preach is that, the more good events that happen, even on the same night, the more people tend to go out and you have a bigger pool of people to draw from for each event,” e-mails DJ MOTHRA (a/k/a Nate Roman), who, in addition to his Ceremony Mondays at An Tua Nua, is launching THUDfest at Great Scott on July 3. “THUDfest wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, or at least it wouldn’t have worked.” Other newer DJs — JUSTINCREDIBLE, DJ VOLVOX, PUNKETTEDOILIE — are appearing on the scene as well. “We have no shortage of DJs in this town,” says Roman, “but we need to set the standard high.”

That standard is CHRIS EWEN, the long-time ManRay resident DJ and current impresario of Saturday party Heroes, the monthly X-Mortis at T.T. the Bear’s Place, and the Wednesday party Crypt at Ramrod in the Fenway. “I try to spin to a wide variety of people and people’s tastes,” says Ewen from his home on the edge of Worcester. “What I do that’s different is more of a club thing. To play with the mood of a place, doing a lot of beatmatching. Changing the mood and building an ambiance for the whole night. It’s not so much about playing one song after another.”

Ewen’s Heroes party moves to, of all places, Lansdowne Street and Club i-D (in Axis) starting this Saturday. “I see a lot of new faces, too, but there are ManRay faces all around,” he says, recalling the legendary club, now a block of condominiums. “I started in 1986. I went in there and the DJ was playing one of my indie records from Detroit [Ewen’s home town, where he was in a band] when we walked in! Seriously! It was really odd. So I went up and introduced myself and got a job there.” The long-time Boston icon (and bandmate of Stephin Merritt in Future Bible Heroes) has also noticed the resurgence. “I’m seeing more of a DIY attitude in people’s nightlife experiences. People are doing what I did when I started out. And a lot of the kids who used to go to ManRay are turning into promoters as well.”

“I did go to ManRay,” writes LAUREN DEVAIN, the proprietress of the monthly Black Magic party, which has moved from Shine Lounge in Kendall Square to the big room in Axis. “I was not a ManRay regular, but I did love what was happening there.” Black Magic’s next event will be with dark-electro duo Motor on June 30. “The alternative scene we have in Boston has not changed or grown in a really long time,” Devain continues. “We want to put names like Combichrist in the hipster’s vocabulary, and Black Strobe into the industrial fan’s vocabulary.”

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  Topics: New England Music News , Stephin Merritt, Chris Ewen
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