On July 4th 1998, long before an ode to reliable public transit became their chosen moniker, Doris Woo arrived at a field in Kalamazoo, MI to cover Sector 616 for Milwaukee-based zine Massive. The assignment: interview Birmingham techno wizkid Anthony Child, aka Surgeon, for the upcoming issue. It was colder than anyone expected, but the crowd, even spread across three stages, was enough to generate some heat. And so, armed with a dictaphone and a conviction to document parties in the midwest scene, Woo set out in search of answers.
Fast forward to July, 4th 2021 when Woo, now known as DJ Bus Replacement Service, and Surgeon celebrated the 23rd anniversary of their first meeting by sharing Woo’s bootleg of Surgeon’s set from that fateful night in ‘98. While the recording is battered and distorted, its sheer existence is a testament to the artistic power (and love) that blossomed in spite of oceanic divides. Sandwiched between Jay Denham and Claude Young on the party’s flyer, with Jeff Mills scheduled to headline his first set in Michigan after a prolonged stint away, Surgeon’s selections act as a time capsule of Europe’s finest exports in conversation with their American originators.
The casual commentary over this historical transmission dispels any notions of you-had-to-be-there feelings of dejection, as the couple’s insights and recollections help bring the contours and ethos of the party into focus. Philosophizing on the art of track sequencing, extolling the “seat of your pants” style of DJing requisite of rickety, ad hoc set-ups, and chastising trainspotters to loosen up and stop glowering were all up for discussion as tracks by DJ Rush, Regis, and Robert Armani churned and swirled underneath. Replaying the night through the eyes of scene veterans made it feel, however briefly, tangible to those just tuning in. But even when the music fades, there’s comfort in thinking that destiny could still lurk in the rural expanse of the American midwest.