Carl Cox @ Eleven50 03.21.2002
by Greg Adamson
photos by Jordan E. Lanier
Thursday nights in Atlanta are unpredictable. A name like Carl Cox is enough to put a line around the corner in many parts of the world. Upon arriving at Eleven50 Thursday, March 21, 2002, there was no line to speak of. Inside was a packed dance floor and a sparsely populated upstairs balcony and back patio, almost perfect from anyone but a promoter's perspective. J-Luv's warm-up performance did not conflict or contrast with Carl Cox's style; his set was flawless. Every record J-Luv played went with the one before it perfectly. The mixes were smooth and well timed, and everyone's temperature rose as required. Around 12:15A.M., J-Luv switched from purist techno tracks to aggressively styled break beats. J-Luv commented that he "didn't practice, but arranged the records because I didn't want to overshadow him [Carl Cox] as far as the techno. So I took a chance a little bit with the techno-breaks." This ploy worked exactly as hoped, and when Cox hit the decks, nearly everyone had given J-Luv high A's on his report card.
Carl Cox's aim was immediate and obvious: transferring the absolute maximum amount of energy from himself and his records to the crowd. Carl stepped up and started working the EQs at 12:58A.M. He was constantly tweaking the EQ, with a hand on them almost always. At 12:59 he started his set, and by 1:07 was living up to his nickname the "three deck wizard." Carl's first backspin was at 1:09. The first record with a breakdown was at 1:12 with a vocal sample saying "50,000 Watts of Funk," and Eleven50's sound system was clearly up for the challenge. Carl started scratching kick drums at 1:15 with the slower rotary knobs of the RANE MP2012, but no fear was shown. At 1:24, he used the Pioneer CDJ-1000 to mix in the first CD. He used one or both of the CD players frequently and, combined with the turntables, the source of a sound and the number of sources was frequently impossible to determine.
Carl Cox is always known to shake, rattle and rock to the beat and was constantly pointing at the upstairs balcony in a rhythmic fashion. At 1:30 however, he first used a record as the actual prop, pumping it instead of his finger. By 1:42, a girl had climbed onto someone's shoulders near the stage, holding both hands in the air. At 1:52A.M. was when Carl first switched to a break beat track rather than the straight 4/4 beat he had played so far. By 1:57, he had given up on this idea, used the Technics On-Off switch, and turned back to techno. This was met with immediate positive reaction as the track was slamming. To obtain a completely objective view of his performance, I counted all the times when 15 or more people had their hands in the air. Not counting the initial or final pandemonium, people went crazy at 1:20, 1:26, 1:34, 1:37, 1:42, 1:57, 2:17, 2:35, 2:40, 2:45, 2:56, 3:19, 3:23, 3:33, 3:40, 3:50 and 3:57A.M. The steady pace of the set and the masterful building and blending of the tracks meant people were, unsurprisingly, mainly occupied with dancing, but Carl Cox was given the respect he deserved.
At 2:12A.M., he played the first record with more than 4 notes and at 2:16A.M., dropped the first true melody, Inner City's "Good Life." This progression had worked well, and the entire crowd was full on into it. At 2:21A.M., I spotted the first attempt at using a cell phone from the dance floor. If it worked, I'm switching to his service plan. At 2:28A.M., a sizable part of the dance floor submitted to a guy swinging no less than 12 glow sticks. The light sticks were the most expensive props of the night so far, not counting maddening green laser pointers. At 2:32A.M., I ran into Byron of Eleven50, and he rated the night quite highly. He commented that "the atmosphere is comfortable and Carl Cox is 'sick,'" cementing the notion that Eleven50 supports quality underground music. At 2:40A.M., Cox played some Carnival-styled techno and at 2:45, dropped my favorite tune of the night. I was trainspotting horribly, so great tunes came and went that I wished I knew. All the people who had come to Eleven50 simply because it was open had left by 3:40, and the club was still at 80% of the initial size. Carl Cox requires endurance! Almost everyone was convinced that he had not diluted his sound for the Southern States. At 3:55A.M., he took a few second break, as if to warn the crowd that the end was nearing, and then dropped his Christian Smith collaboration, "Dirty Bass," for one last stomp.
Towards the end, I passed out around 15 surveys with a sharpie. Although the timing was obviously geared towards people willing to stay to the end, the results were very positive. Places of birth representing included the states CO, AL, FL, WA, GA, TX, NC, MD, SC and IL, as well as the countries of Brazil, Panama and South Africa giving some credit to Global, Carl Cox's CD and tour title. People thought the club was
Someone commented, "More bathrooms would help," apparently not knowing about the ones downstairs.
"What did you think of the DJ?" got the responses:
"J-Luv and Carl Cox were both incredible;"
People seemed to think Liquified did a great job with the sound system with accolades of "Wicked loud," "Fucking bad ass," "Best I've heard in Eleven50," and "Carl should have blown it for us."
And finally, the important question, "Did you have a good time?" was met with "Always," "Hell yes," "Of course, Carl fucking rocks," "You betcha," and the enigmatic "Oh my God, Becky."
Carl Cox, we thank you. 4.5 out of 5 stars awarded.
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