DJs usually look really cool with arm tattoos. Think of those club photos that show up on Facebook, the ones shot from the front of the booth so that the camera’s angled all the way up their arms, which are frozen in some purposeful knob-twisting pose with headphones askew. Those peak of the night shots can make even lame tattoos look appealing, but Eric Cloutier’s designs don’t need a photographer with a beastly Nikon to make them look magnificent. There’s a peacock feather wrapped around one forearm, which has a mesmerizing effect when he’s in action, fluttering from turntables to mixer to crate.
Cloutier’s most recent set took place last Friday at Public Assembly in Brooklyn, NY, where the longstanding New York dance party the Bunker has made a home for the past five years or more. This particular installment was a celebration of the Bunker’s 10th anniversary, and so the four resident DJs—Bryan Kasenic, Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Servito, and Cloutier—churned out tunes alongside headliners Vatican Shadow, Silent Servant, and the collaboration between Move D and Space Time Continuum known as Reagenz.
The well-tattooed resident played a decidedly more approachable set than Vatican Shadow (a.k.a. Dominick Fernow), who showed off his live set at the same time in Public Assembly’s cramped back room. Considering the body of Vatican Shadow’s work and his output under the projects Cold Cave and Prurient, this was no surprise. But somehow—and this is probably a personal failing—harsh noise music is always jarring. Fernow’s live set was lean and mean, with techno-influenced drums occasionally coalescing into a beat within the murk of searing sounds, which drove me back to Cloutier’s room. In contrast to Vatican Shadow’s cemetery vibes, Cloutier’s selection drew largely from ’90s house and its contemporary revivalists at labels like 100% Silk.
However, noise fans made up the majority of the partygoers at the Bunker’s birthday bash, so the back room stayed jam-packed throughout Vatican Shadow’s performance. The audience remained mainly unmoving, but jostled gamely throughout Silent Servant’s seriousfaced dub techno set. His set showcased the kind of trance-inducing, glumly psychedelic beats that one would expect from an ex-Sandwell District artist, like gummy Sigha beats. Simply put, the roster for the Bunker’s 10th anniversary wasn’t for the faint of heart. Instead, the celebration catered to the devoted fans who have remained ravenous for the party’s top-shelf lineups for the past decade.