Spring breakin' 2 (electric boogaloo)
We're way overdue for an update, but we're also still suffering from alcohol poisoning (or maybe just the sticker shock of $7 Red Stripes and $40 cover charges) after Miami. Besides, what, exactly, is there to tell? Miami was about as I expected -- long lines, endless guestlist hassle, the strange elasticity that time takes on whenever you attempt to do anything in a group of more than three people. Still, a few moments stand out:
Friday night's DFA party at the SoHo Lounge, where I waited two hours to get in, looked like someone had chartered a bus from Williamsburgh. Even in the Miami heat, rock kids wear blazers. (Then again, so did Crockett, or maybe it was Tubbs, so perhaps I can't begrudge them this.)
But you know that scene in Hedwig where the band is playing some Lilith Fair ripoff on a stage perched on a small, grassy knoll -- and there's a lone goth girl watching them from beneath her umbrella, while the real festival takes place one hill away? That's kind of how the Vice stage felt at Saturday's day-long Ultra Music Festival. The oversized stage dwarfed performers and skimpy crowd -- consisting mainly of a few New York girlfriends and well-wishers, seemingly -- while a reported 50,000 kids raved away just steps away to the friendlier sounds of breaks, jungle, house, and of course trance. I actually felt more than a little bad for the Vice/DFA folks, who looked a little lost. (Funk-punk apparently doesn't play in Peoria.) It didn't help that one of 2ManyDJs was reportedly ejected from the festival after a scuffle with his girlfriend and a beatdown at the hands of security guards. "You may be wondering the same thing we are," quipped James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem as the band took the stage, "which is, what are we doing here?" Might be the first and only time you'll ever see New York hipsters as underdogs, which is charming, in a strange way.
The rest of the Ultra fest was about as I would have expected it; between the whitehats and the meat-on-a-stick booths, it felt a little like a state fair, but with more glowsticks. Still, the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, so I can't begrudge them their kicks, even if hearing Tiesto play a trance mix of the theme from The Mission (why didn't anyone think of this before?) isn't exactly my bag. I did enjoy watching the trainwreck-in-progress that is Tommy Lee flail away on a drumkit while some anonymous DJ gamely attempted to play along, and P. Diddy's bewildering appearance between Tiesto and Oakenfold was just as amusing. Dude didn't so much as pick up a microphone; just strutted on stage and allowed a DJ to spin his most recent single. One of the most godawful things ever put to wax in the name of "dance music," it pretty much killed the epic vibe Tiesto had so skillfully built up. If a DJ set is a journey, P. Diddy's interlude was a bus plunge off a steep cliff. The government might want to look into licensing that sucker for use at Guantanamo, because I've never seen a more effective spirit-killer.
The rest of Miami is more or less a blur, at least until the final night's XLR8R party with Michael Mayer and Superpitcher. What can I say? I saw god. It's that simple. I arrived to hear Luomo tweaking his way through Present Lover tracks; effective if underattended. Stacey Pullen roused the crowd with a punchy set of house and techno that had me moving for about 20 minutes, until I decided that all motion was off for the rest of the night. By the time Mayer assumed the decks at 2 a.m., I'd resigned myself to a night of spectating. But Mayer's slow, steady creep into action had me moving in spite of myself, and for the next three hours, I was in total bodily thrall to the Germans. While the highlights were unforgettable -- Mayer dropping an a cappella of "Milkshake" over a gritty St. Plomb track off Mental Groove, or that enormous, spine-tapping chorus of Rex the Dog splitting the room in two -- for the most part the evening's arc is hard to map precisely. Indeed, what's so impressive about Mayer and Superpitcher is how subtly they mix tracks (like the Speicher ones) that are, on their own, total monsters. Try to play those records and you instantly see that each, on its own, is almost overkill on all but the most aggro floors. But Mayer and Superpitcher, seductors without peer, make Kompakt's walloping proto-trance feel like a caress -- albeit one with sting.