Northern Parallels close out a chapter with a fifth anniversary NYE show at Rozz-Tox

Northern Parallels

Rozz-Tox, Rock Island, Friday, Dec. 31 at 8 p.m., $10

Northern Parallels founder Mike Derer at work. — courtesy of the artist

In December 2016, Adam “Higgy” Higgins and Mike Derer held the first Northern Parallels event. This was before the record label, before the event promotion, before the series of dance parties.

“It was a crazy night, the weather wasn’t in our favor, it was a blizzard with 40+ mph winds and well-below-zero temperatures,” Derer wrote in an email interview. “I seriously considered turning around multiple times and going back home because the roads were pretty much undrivable.”

He made the drive, though, and so did a crowd of other people who traveled 30-40 miles to get to the show.

“From that point forward, it was a series of events held monthly and grew an audience that adapted to the music and began to love it.”

Although the pandemic didn’t take much of a toll on the record label aspect of Northern Parallels, the event planning and promotion changed over the course of the last couple of years. During warmer months, they were able to resume hosting events in the outdoor garden space at Rozz-Tox in Rock Island.

“The outside area is spacious enough, and everyone respected the guidelines in terms of mask wearing and social distancing. It went very well,” Derer wrote, but added that it also limited their ability to invite out-of-town artists to perform.

The duo has been invited to bring their self-described “deep, trippy, hypnotic dance floor music” to many venues, including the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, which led to a series called the Figge Underground. They’ve collaborated with venues in Chicago, hosted underground events and club nights.

But after their New Year’s Eve five-year anniversary show this Friday at Rozz-Tox, Derer and Higgins are going on an indefinite hiatus.

“After five years and 50 plus events, it’s a lot to take on,” Derer said. But, he added: “We’ll be back.”

At the Rozz-Tox New Year’s Eve event, attendees can expect a combination of house, techno and electro music. Derer hopes that folks experiencing a Northern Parallels event for the first time will have an open mind when it comes to electronic music.

“Maybe some genres aren’t for you, which is fine, we all have certain flavors we like. Selecting the music I play is important to me; I am always digging, buying music — and [I] hope people appreciate how the music progresses and tells a story, or for some to just dance let them lose themselves for a few hours.”

Derer said he and Higgins couldn’t imagine their final show at another location.

“Rozz-Tox is such a unique spot and a hidden gem,” he wrote. “It’s a venue that you don’t come across very often and even in the biggest cities.”

Rozz-Tox requires a mask to enter and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test for events.

“This is important, not only to me but I believe to everyone that comes out,” Derer said, “knowing that they take the pandemic and virus seriously.”

It also adds to the comfort of touring musicians and fans, since one of Derer’s core goals for his music is that listeners can let go of the outside world while they dance.

Northern Parallels’ New Year’s Eve show will also be the final event at Rozz-Tox until February, as the venue will be taking the winter season to renovate the space. The show starts at 8 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m., with a $10 cover charge. Masks and either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test dated within 3 days of the event will be required for entry.

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