The annual gathering of the Winter Music Conference / Miami Music Week, sandwiched in between the Ultra Music Festival’s 2 weekend experience has increased in size each year I have attended.With this being my 11th trip to South Beach, I found some great parties and experiences that you simply cannot and do not get anywhere else. Unfortunately these were also balanced with some negatives that I found as well. Let’s start with the good:
- Literally whether it was during the day time or the night time I found that this year specifically you had more options than ever before to see every single DJ/Producer you wanted to see. In past years, the night schedule was always spread out however the pool/dayparties were limited. It seemed like every hotel that even had a shallow wading pool put up a stage and had a day party.
GOOD: So Sugar Added Saturday at Nikki Beach
- What was probably the best“deal” we came across all week, myself and 4 friends got a day bed at the No Sugar Added party on Saturday. For approximately $300/person we had 4 bottles of liquor and were treated to great sets from Funkagenda, Chris Lake, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike,Arty, AN21 and Max Vangeli, Tim Mason and others. At night both Tiesto and Dancing Astronaut brought the party inside. For the money, it was the best value we received during our stay.
GOOD: Amnesia becomes Story
- My experience for Erick Morillo’s Subliminal party at Amnesia last year was a great one and Amnesia was one of my nicest clubs I have attended down there. When I heard Dave Grutman was converting Amnesia to a new space by the name of “Story” I wondered how they could improve on it? By beefing up the sound, lighting and layout, that’s how. “Story” is a home run and gives LIV a run for it’s money as the king of South Beach nightclubs.
Also among the good to mention were Laidback Luke’s Super You & Me party at LIV (now a WMC staple, must-attend event for sure), the Bingo Players Shelborne Pool Party (which turned into a who’s who in the VIP section),Eric Prydz surprise set at Pete Tong’s Surfcomber party, Seb Ingrosso’s amazing set at Story on Thursday(joined by Dirty South, ATrak, Alesso,Tommy Trash, Otto Knows, Axwell, and others), Big Pink’s late night food (grilled cheese with bacon for the win) Wet Willies “Call A Cabs”, Ne-Yo hanging out on Ocean Drive almost causing a riot and of course seeing good friends in the Miami sun!
But with the good, there was the bad. Miami Music Week is a huge production and there will always be holes and places that could have done better. I tried not to nitpick but a few things were simply egregious.
BAD: Fire Marshall Bill
If you are old enough to remember the comedy show “In Living Color” and the skit with Jim Carey as “Fire Marshall Bill” you are probably laughing and remembering his signature line“LEMME TELL YA SOMETHIN”. Almost every single pool party fell victim to the Miami Beach Fire Marshall's shutting the door, sometimes for hours, other times for a few minutes. Almost every party I attended that dealt with this annoyance was no where near packed to the point where safety was an issue. Please be clear, I understand safety and regulations. However I think RPM head man Rob Fernandez’s tweet said it: “Talk to me the next time a person dies in an outdoor pool party fire”. It was terribly obvious this was South Beach’s way to exacting whatever it could from those “polluting” the beach with noise and sound (not to mention an influx of people and millions of dollars).
BAD: Door Prices
Blame it on the rise of “EDM”. Blame the promoters. Blame the DJs. Blame their agents. No matter where the blame lies, I can truly say that I have never spent as much money at 1 conference as I did for this one. And that includes being listed to many events. At venues such as LIV and Story, people without tickets (namely gentleman) were asked to pay upwards of anywhere from $100-$200 simply for entry. Certain pool parties also held hefty door prices for those without tickets. I purchased a ticket to Laidback Luke’s Mixmash pool party on the secondary market (Stubhub) for $100 (originally a $35 ticket, and due to popularity it was the 1st pool party to sell out). The door price when we arrived for those without tickets was $120 at 3pm. To me, the Mixmash Party in 2012 was the best party of WMC, however paying anything above $100 seems like a lot. Especially during a week where every party is pricey, drinks are at least$10 a pieces, but this is Miami, isn't it? Almost every party sold out or was close to capacity so with the laws of supply and demand, I would expect the prices to be the same if not higher next year.
BAD: The Clarity of My Epic Cannonball has a Wakanda Code now Hit It!
- In all of my years of coming to the conference, there is always THAT SONG. You hear it at every party, and no matter whether its techno djs, deep house, progressive, the song takes over as the “Song of WMC”. Years ago I can remember Kurd Maverick’s rework of Pump Up the Jam. Deep Dish’s collab with Diddy “Lets Get Up & Let’s Get Ill” among others. In past years this has gone by the wayside and given way to each subgenre having its own hits that you would hear. However this year it was overkill. Almost every set I heard over the week contained the following records: “Wakanda”, “Hit It” “The Code” “Cannonball” “Who” “Clarity –(in some aspect, mostly acapella)” “Epic (yes, still the king of progressive drops)” and a few others. While I can understand when such artists have produced the tracks, it was rare to hear someone break out of these crowd favorites.
BAD: Neon Nation
-If you allow me a minute, I will stand on my soapbox here and make a statement about the entire “EDM” movement and the stereotypes that unfortunately are appearing with it. No one is more excited to see dance music blow up in America than I am. A DJ of over 20 years,to see the usual requests for “lil Wayne” changing to requests for “Levels” is a welcome sight. To attend shows with thousands that I remember attending with hundreds makes the experience that much greater. However, as most recently seen by Jessica Pressler’s statement on the attendees of most shows in her GQ Magazine article about Avicii, with the swell in popularity, of course there will bestereo types and descriptions of the culture that are exaggerations. Mainstream America believes shows are filled with kids wearing neon taking ecstasy (or now Molly) and zoning out to loud music. For all of us who attend shows we know there is a portion of the crowd that does fit this stereotype. But can we really stop with the Molly shirts? At Woodstock did our parents run around with tshirts that said “Please help me find Acid?!” If you choose drugs to help your“experience” – keep it to yourself. Artists such as Eric Prydz and Porter Robinson have already spoken out mocking the Neon culture and laughing at it. Porter went as far as to say “If you wear a neon pink hat that says YOLO, you will not like my new album”. I truly believe everyone enters this house culture somewhere, and very few of us have been a part of this since the beginnings so rather than mock someone, do your best to help them. I have friends who have quite experienced musical experience who wear these idiotic hats. I get the whole “freedom of expression” thing and I’m sure American Apparel appreciates the business. But the glorification of a drug that slowly breaks down the makeup of your brain is something our culture really needs to stop.
All in all Miami was good to me as she usually is. This was my first time actually spending a week in South Beach and weeks later I am finally feeling recovered. When I ordered a drink at my local bar and the bartender said $5, it took a minute to adjust, but it was a welcome adjustment. With the popularity of our culture reaching levels (no pun intended) we never dreamed of, certain consequences exist along with the positives. I am 99% sure I will return to Miami in 2014, and this time I will pack a Fire Marshall Suit just in case.