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Music

An electronic sound sampler

John Santoro, owner of Ybor City's Amphitheater, sets the stage for Sunset '06, a full-day festival of the dance club beat.

By JAY CRIDLIN
Published October 5, 2006


Electronic music is a lot like fine wine. No, really.

House, trance, techno, breakbeat - each subgenre of electronica is distinct, just like a merlot is different from a cabernet.

"But unless you're a connoisseur of the music, I don't think you'll get the big difference," says John Santoro, owner of the techno megaclub Amphitheater in Ybor City.

Which is why Santoro likens this weekend's Sunset '06, the Tampa Bay area's first electronic music festival, to a wine tasting - a flashy, sexy, Red Bull-fueled wine tasting.

"You are going to get that nice sampling," he says.

Sunset, which runs from noon until 10 p.m. Sunday, will bring 25 DJs to Vinoy Park on the St. Petersburg waterfront, including Rabbit in the Moon, an eclectic live act known for over-the-top stage shows, and Carl Cox, a Coachella-tested veteran of the techno festival circuit.

For years, Miami has offered dance-heavy festivals like the Ultra Music Festival (this year's lineup included Prodigy, the Killers and Paul van Dyk) and the upcoming Bang! Music Festival (Duran Duran, Daft Punk, Gnarls Barkley) on Nov. 11.

For the last few years, Santoro, a former engineer and major electronic music fan, has been bringing first-rate DJs Paul Oakenfold, the Crystal Method and Tiesto - rated by many as the world's top DJ - to Ybor City. Each time a big-name DJ played a set, attendance at the venue swelled.

So Santoro thought the bay area was ready for a Miami-style festival.

"It's not yet at the point where you can do a weekly (techno) night, but when you do these one-off parties, they just go off the chain," he says.

It's tough to say how popular the inaugural Sunset will be because this area has never hosted an all-day electronic music festival. Santoro expects fans from around the state; he has even sold tickets to hard-core fans as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia, and Los Angeles. He's hoping for 5,000 and is prepared for 10,000.

Santoro says he's using Sunset '06 as a building block for Sunset '07 and is close to signing two major headliners for next year. "Everything is all about next year," Santoro says. "This is the tool I'm using to make sure that one is perfect."

Not that he expects Sunset '06 to disappoint. "I think," he says, "this is going to be a historic day."

*   *   *

Sunset '06 with 25 DJs runs from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday in Vinoy Park, on the waterfront at the end of Fifth Avenue NE, downtown St. Petersburg. $40-$50. (813) 248-2331.Search for "electronic music genres" on Wikipedia and you'll find a list of - gulp - 163 subgenres. Seriously, 163? We're sure there's a good reason for each one, but come on - "Clownstep"? "Illbient"? "Indietronica"? How can anyone crack this electronic code?Relax. Here's a guide to some of the most popular forms.Breakbeat/Breaks: The hip-hop- and rock-influenced song structures in breaks music have made it perhaps the most popular form in the United States. Artists: Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method, Prodigy.Drum and Bass: A deeper, darker, funkier form that borrows from jazz, reggae and early hip-hop. Also known as jungle. Artists: Goldie, Roni Size, Squarepusher.Electronic pop/rock: If you like the Postal Service, Gnarls Barkley, LCD Soundsystem or even Bjork or Thom Yorke, you're grooving on electronic pop and rock. The bands may play live, but they incorporate electronic beats and other elements into many tracks.House: One of the earliest forms, house (named for the Chicago club Warehouse, where the genre took hold in the early '80s) began when DJs mixed drum beats and bass lines into disco tracks. Much of what most people consider "electronica" would be classified as house. Artists: New Order, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, BT, Felix Da Housecat.Techno: Like house music, techno is an early form driven by beats and instrumentation. These days, techno has become more of a broad term for electronic music. Artists: Moby, Carl Cox, Orbital, Underworld.Trance: A fast, pulsing, repetitive genre that builds to a climax and is often played in clubs, even if it doesn't produce a lot of pop hits. Artists: Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, Sasha and Digweed.Trip-hop: A genre of downtempo, R&B-like tunes with moody atmospherics better suited for an evening at home alone than a night on the dance floor. Artists: Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack, DJ Shadow, Zero 7, Thievery Corporation.Sources: All Music Guide, WikipediaRabbit in the Moon, 8:30 p.m.: This house trio formed in Tampa, but has made Los Angeles home. Their Cirque du Soleil-like live show calls to mind performances by the Flaming Lips or Zoo TV-era U2. Check YouTube for fan-made concert highlights of RITM's elaborate costumes, video props and a human-sized hamster ball. This will be the group's first live show in this area. Carl Cox, 7 p.m.: This techno and acid house veteran is one of the top DJs in the world; he's now No. 6 on the DJ List, a worldwide rating site (www.thedjlist.com). Another frenetic live performer, Cox has released a string of hit singles and 12-inches in his native Britain, and he has played Coachella and the Ultra Music Festival, among many other large venues.Ferry Corsten, 5:30 p.m.: This Dutch trance DJ and producer has remixed hits by U2, Duran Duran and Moby, and has even produced a dance remix of the theme to TV's Prison Break. He's on tap to play the Voodoo Music Experience later this month in New Orleans.Darude, 4 p.m.: One of Finland's top DJs, Darude scored an international club smash with 1999's Sandstorm. He played the Amphitheater in March; Sunset is his last scheduled U.S. performance this year.Baby Anne, 2:30 p.m.: This breakbeat expert from Orlando is one of the Southeast's top female DJs. She has released six CDs that fuse electro beats with deep Miami bass, and in the past month she has played venues in Canada and Guatemala.Dj X & Plummet, 1:30 p.m.: Eric Muniz, a.k.a. DJ X, another breaks specialist, relocated to Florida from New York and has released a handful of dance compilations. He will be performing with vocalist Cheramy Burgess; together they form the duo Plummet, known for a clubbed-up dance version of Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.Mondo, 1 p.m.: This Tampa breaks DJ spins the decks at the Amphitheater each Friday. He produced two local breakbeat compilations, Tampa Breaks Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

[Last modified October 4, 2006, 12:45:22]


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