David Prince, Chicago's reigning techno entrepreneur, is the kind of guy who enters rooms with lines like, "I had a great nonrave ecstasy experience last Saturday." The editor of the technoculture-obsessed Reactor mag-azine, now in its tenth issue, also helps produce regular Chicago raves. Next weekend, with his counterparts in Milwaukee (the Drop Bass Network) and Minneapolis (Minneapolis M.O.R.E.) he's putting on one of the largest techno gatherings ever in the midwest. If they pull it off, the event (called "Furthur") will see thousands of kids looking for bliss by means of four sound systems and acres of free camping space in a remote area of Wisconsin for three days.
Techno's a mystery to a lot of people, both musically--it makes the most mechanical disco or industrial record sound positively human--and philosophically. Its roots are in house, the rigid but exhilarating postdisco music that came out of Chicago in the early 80s. But its theoretical punch comes out of a neopsychedelic, wide-eyed, almost new-age subculture of middle-class white kids, new hippies with short hair who convene by the thousands to dance solitarily to a brutal mechanistic hum. How do people like Prince derive such squishy feelings from it? "It's entirely experiential," he explains. "Until you hear it in a site where it's really loud and there are a lot of people dancing to it, you won't get it." He also admits that the reason some people don't get techno is that their heads aren't in the right place, so to speak. "It really is drug music," he says. "Anybody that tells you it's not is a liar, and that's all I'll say about that."
For "Furthur," Prince promises two main stages where assorted techno stars, most notably the brilliant sound manipulator Aphex Twin, will deejay. There'll be a third stage of old-fashioned live music, and a fourth set up with a sort of open-mike sound system. "You can sign up to spin an hour of whatever kind of music you want. It's not limited to dance music: we've got one guy who's going to play an hour of Black Sabbath." If the weather's nice, everything will be open air; if it's rainy or cold, Prince and his coproducers have giant tents for the four stages. Camping is free in the surrounding forests--a privately owned developed site in the Black River Falls area of west-central Wisconsin--and Prince says adequate toilet facilities and food will be on hand. Tix are $20. In routine rave fashion, the exact location won't be revealed until next Friday on an info line, 604-1833.
The new Chicago magazine, on the stands this week, features a lengthy article on Steve Albini. The Mark Jannot profile is well reported and amusingly illustrated, complete with candid shots of the outspoken producer and performer at the lovable ages of both 1 and 12. How did the magazine get those? They called up Albini's mother, who thoughtfully provided them. Hitsville's favorite quote describes Albini's working relationships with his bands, in this case Nirvana. "Kurt [Cobain] would say, 'I want to do a guitar overdub,' and Steve would explain to him for a half-hour why it wasn't a good idea, using all these weird technical terms. And Kurt would say, 'Well, that may be so, but I still want to do a guitar overdub.' And Steve would explain to him again why he shouldn't do it....The last line of any of these lectures is always, 'But you're paying me, so I'll do what you want. I have to put in my two cents because you're paying me.' But his two cents turns out to be, you know, five hundred dollars." And that's from one of his friends, namely second engineer and Shellac bandmate Bob Weston....Speaking of which, La Albini appears with Idful Studios' Brad Wood and Drag City's Rian Murphy at a NARAS-sponsored panel discussion on independent labels at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, at 7:30 PM Tuesday. Admission is $10, $5 for students and NARAS members. Call NARAS at 786-1121 or the club at 276-3600 for details....Jim Powers and his label Minty Fresh were profiled on the front page of Billboard this week; the Eric Boehlert piece described locals Veruca Salt as "among the most sought-after indie bands in the land these days."... South-side R&B star R. Kelly's 12 Play is double platinum and still in the top ten; his song "Bump n' Grind" is at its third week at number one on the pop singles chart....The National Association of Independent Record Distributors and Manufacturers (NAIRD) is holding its 1994 convention in Chicago, at the Palmer House Hilton May 11 through 15. Flying Fish Records' Grace Faustino says she's looking for volunteers to do a variety of light grunt work around the convention, from stuffing envelopes to checking badges. There's no pay, but every four-hour shift worked earns a one-day pass to the convention. Call her at 528-5455 for details....Tickets for the Rock for Choice Benefit go on sale Saturday; after some lineup changes, the confirmed bill includes Liz Phair, Veruca Salt, and Freakwater, with special guests to be announced, says promoter Margaret Glover. Tickets are a deal at $14. For updates, call 320-1940.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Peter Barreras.