Photos courtesy J Brewer Photography
I wonder if the homeboy Mickey Bliss ever thought he’d see Club Bohemia – the downstairs room at the legendary Cantab Lounge in Cambridge – morph into an “underground garden” of shining, soulful elation.
Throughout the years, Club Bohemia has served as the gritty backdrop for live rock, poetry slams, and open-mic nights. I am pretty sure every one of us has, for at least one night in our lives, found ourselves in the bowels of the Cantab, consuming more beer than we can handle & making many bad decisions thereafter. It’s a rough-and-tumble atmosphere for sure, and it’s one that holds infinite sentimental value to me; it’s the site of my very first live DJ set, the inaugural Legacy party back in 2009. It is also where I have seen many acts kill it hard onstage over the years, from Sans Nomenclature to Lucretia’s Daggers to Commit Samantha to Mei Ohara. So, I am used to a particular kind of vibe at Club Bohemia.
Then I find out from my dear sister-in-spirit Liza Zayas, about a brand-new party flow called Erato. One that was going to be housed in ol’ Club Bohemia, celebrating the joys of music, unity, and life itself through the sounds of underground house, disco, afrobeat, Latin, tech, funk, and vocal. Needless to say, this was a deliciously intriguing situation, one that I knew I had to be in the building to experience in person. Nah, not even the Foo Fighters at Fenway Park could deter me from being a part of this; besides, I had already experienced Dave Grohl & the boys live, November 2011 at TD Garden. Facts only: the grand opening of Erato was truly Saturday night’s main event. Here’s why.
Created by Manolo’s Daughter, Jo Jo Ma & T.C.C., Erato is an all-new experience in Boston nightlife that embraces those who live to dance the night away, and embrace those who truly love & respect the music. Through inspired DJ sets, powerful expressions of soulful vocals and spoken word, Erato becomes an explosion of love & positivity that attacks every nerve, and lifts you up to unimaginable heights of ecstasy. The good people who come to live the moment, they do so together, unified by the pulsating music and positive vibes that make it a true family affair. This is what I had the good fortune of witnessing and experiencing at Erato this past Saturday.
Emceed by the iconic Godfather of Boston House Music, our brother DJ Bruno, Erato was very much in the style and spirit of the kind of vibes Bruno has shared with us through the generations, from his days of rocking late nights in the Back Bay at “The Loft” to his long-running H.O.M.E. party movement. On this night, the 1s & 2s would be lavished by resident DJs T.C.C. and the birthday boy of the evening, the big homie Leo Alarcon, a great man who loves & respects the music, one I have the honor of calling family.
The tag team of T.C.C. started the evening in brilliant fashion, setting the tone with a set that was straight fire. T.C.C. laid down the foundation for the evening, successfully owning the responsibility of opening the party and giving the rapidly expanding gathering before them a solid primer on what the sound of Erato represents.
A personal highlight of Erato for your boy Mr. Golden was a live performance by the amazing poet & singer known as Lifted Conscious. For those of y’all who remember the early incarnation of the Boston VIPs Show, you may remember my conversation with Lifted Conscious from a December 2014 episode. Always well spoken and oozing with sophistication, soul and confidence, Lifted Conscious has cultivated a massive social media following with her inspiring words & artistic expressions. I will never forget first meeting Lifted Conscious last summer at an outdoor party held down by the great DJ Bob Diesel; with emerald green locks flowing every which way, Lifted Conscious danced and moved with the music in a corner of the basketball court, all by herself, lifted by the awesome sounds that had us all enraptured. It was that day when I introduced Lifted Conscious to Leo; from there, the pair have worked & recorded together, building a bond through friendship & creative endeavor.
This night – the grand opening of Erato – would prove to be my first time seeing Lifted Conscious live onstage. Ladies and fellas, in a short three-minute span, this lady stole the night; her performance captured the attention of everyone in the room, keeping the ladies and fellas before her fixated on her every word. Beaming with pride and happiness, Lifted Conscious let the sunshine into the usually dank Club Bohemia. She far exceeded even my own expectations, showing us who she was and setting the mic ablaze. This was the embodiment of Lifted Conscious. If you guys weren’t there, no amount of words I can weave together will do it justice.
In addition, the exhibition laid down by the soul-stirring vocalist Amina Gunn was another brilliant highlight. A truly strong female vocalist, Amina put a great deal of passion into her performance, and its clearly showed to everyone tuned into her moment in the Erato spotlight. Amazing vocals with a unique sense of emotion to her voice which most modern mainstream singers lack today, Amina impressed with her short but memorable turn onstage.
Going forward, the night belonged to my brother Mr. Leo Alarcon. The Ecuador-born mixmaster has lived & breathed music since boyhood, Leo discovered the energy and positive impact of house music during his time working within the legendary Loft; today he is one of the most revered DJs in the Boston nightlife scene, an integral member of the Boston House Music Coalition. His passion for the music and unity it creates among his family & friends was felt in the set that took us all the way through the remainder of the evening. The happy sounds & unending beats managed to also attract people from the upstairs room, who soon found themselves enveloped by a party vibe never before experienced. This was Leo’s signature sound taken to entirely new heights; lawd, it gives me them feels just writing about it. Watching, vibing, and dancing to the music that Leo loves was a fitting present for this man’s birthday. He gives us his sweat equity every time he gets behind the decks, and on this night, he was at his fiery best. Big love to Leo.
The next edition of Erato is set for Saturday night, August 15 at Club Bohemia. Joining residents T.C.C. on the 1s & 2s will be DJ Safire, a member of the fabled Floorlords Crew. It promises to be a hotter-than-hell night of breakbeats, disco, freestyle, old school hip-hop, and house music of the vintage & modern varieties. If this massive grand opening party is any indication of the future – and Mr. Golden truly believes it is – then the finest has yet to come from the Erato family. Nothing but the biggest love to my sister Liza Zayas for having me on hand for this event; I felt it in the heart, mind and soul, love. I implore all who are reading this to pull up for the next. Newly established parties like Erato, 320 Entertainment’s KNTRL, and others give us hope for Boston nightlife’s future; with beloved establishments like T.T. the Bear’s Place and Johnny D’s closing up shop, we need fresh blood to keep our community’s scene alive & thriving for the next generation of party people. Erato is a solid new addition to the calendar. Come through on August 15 and get ready to get lifted.