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  Doc Martin 1.27.01
by Sterling McGarvey

Venue: Celebration Hall - Atlanta, GA
Presented by: Liquid Groove

Sterling McGarveyOn a cold, frosty late January evening, the pounding sounds of tribal house came back to Atlanta. Despite the fact that the night was supposed to be a two-punch of house and techno, Doc Martin more than rose to the occasion of playing all night.

One could step into Celebration Hall and see the blend of people. Chic, older househeads swayed to the beats alongside energetic candy kids. There were quite a few fresh faces in the crowd, and their awkward stares or their dancing indicated that they weren't necessarily initiated into the sonic warmth that is a Doc Martin set. It's funny how he plays. The sounds hit high and low points all evening in terms of mood. They rock back and forth, and the balance is gorgeous. Just as it seems the tempo is about to wind down and go completely deep, a tribal rhythm kicks in. The tempo rises, and the crowd eats up every last bit of it. Atlanta certainly got a huge helping of the vibe on January 27th. In spite of the fact that Luke Slater fell ill, Clay Ivey and Doc Martin came in and swept everyone up.

At the point at which I had arrived, Clay had already finished up his set, and Doc was in full swing. Spirits were high as people from all kinds of backgrounds were grooving. One great surprise came in the form of Atlanta Safe's table, which was stocked with earplugs. Though the acoustics were fantastic in the main room, the earplugs proved to be a godsend as the evening progressed.

Doc had an extremely long time frame with which to work the crowd, so the set was rife with peaks and volleys. The house went very deep, but it would suddenly pick up with a tribal track, and the vibe of the crowd would lift with the music. However, one of the definite highlights of the evening would have to be the remix of "Electric Avenue" that he played. While the crowd did not necessarily get whipped into frenzy, it was definitely a memorable point in the set.

Meanwhile, downstairs, the friendly moderator, Christian Michael, was playing the darkest, nastiest, hardest, Stormtrooper Deathmarch-like trance that he could find...just because he could. The sight of people breaking to progressive house in the basement of the venue before Christian played was rather...different. Christian's tracks rendered them unable to do anything but nod and stomp.

Upstairs, Doc was beginning his rise to the absolute zenith of his set as he began mixing in some Breaks into the tracks. What I've found from seeing Doc Martin play is that the Breaks are like a preparation for a veritable tsunami of gorgeous House. Sure enough, as the breakbeats gave way to more House, the sounds of Michael Jackson began to emanate. Unlike the popular track that happens to sample "Off the Wall," Doc played "Off the Wall" and cut other tracks against it, much to the delight of the crowd. Most fascinating of all, however, was one sight that I never thought I'd get to witness: Devin danced. A lot.

Unfortunately, since it was wintertime, it was still dark outside as Doc began winding down. Had he played this set in late spring or summer, the sunrise would have perfected this party. However, as the light show began to brighten and simulate yellow light at nearly 6 a.m., one felt the warmth as though it were an August morning, not one in chilly January. It was wonderful to look across the room and see people feeling the music. Arms were outstretched in praise. There were whoops and hollers. It was a meaningful, spiritual moment. At that point, he closed out with Thomas Schumacher's "Good Life."

Between the lighting, the strongly synthed-up and vocal feel of the track, and the happiness in the room, the end of the event felt just like all of those parties that everyone reads about that happen in Southern California, if only for a few fleeting minutes. Everyone hugged, said goodbyes and applauded for a good while before security ushered everyone out onto Ralph David Abernathy into the winter chills again. There were many appreciative music enthusiasts making a run for their cars at that point. Although they might have been cold, they were likely as elated as they were cold. An extended set from one of America's top House DJs is something to truly cherish.

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