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Winter Music Conference 2008: Days 2 and 3

David Tatasciore
Day 2
Welcome to Miami at Nikki Beach

Paul Harris of Dirty Vegas fame, killing it

I won tickets to this show through Resident Advisor, and the lineup is fantastic, so I’m dead-set on going. My comrades are dragging their heels a bit, though. I can already feel things between us becoming strained, and it’s only Wednesday. Perhaps I am being a bit of a taskmaster, always keeping us on the move and out of the hotel room as much as possible, but that’s sort of what this is all about. Aside from my hour or so on the beach (and therapeutic swim in the ocean) every morning, relaxing is the last thing I want to do on this vacation. I eventually get us out the door and we figure out when and where to catch a bus to South Beach. But we get off too soon and still have about ten blocks left to get to our destination on the tip of the island, with the scenery gradually getting more highly stylized the further we walk down Ocean Drive. Luckily, once we arrive at Nikki Beach, we’re able to skip the line and proceed directly inside…and then right back outside, to the patio area on the beach. On the decks is a total blast from the past: Paul Harris from Dirty Vegas is spinning, and the first thing we hear coming out of the speakers is some sort of progressive house remix of “Rocket Man” by Elton John*, which looks hideous on paper but is actually pretty goddamn sweet at the moment. Harris definitely kills it. After his set, though, the Area 1 lineup under the roof proves to be far more interesting musically (though lacking the Nip/Tuck flavor of the outdoors), and the crowd disperses accordingly. We will notice a similar divide throughout the conference, a marked split between the dress-code trance goons and the more, well, musically inclined. I’m sorry if that makes me a genre-ist or something, but I think you know what I mean. Mobilee in particular gets props. Label boss Anja Schneider is a great techno DJ, and Sebo K is a fucking rock star. I attempt to talk to a few people about the set during my various trips to the bar and bathroom, but everyone I approach is European and can’t speak English very well: I strike out with Germany, Spain, and France. Still, they’re much nicer than most American clubbers, and the French guy even congratulates me on the play of the 76ers. As the sun starts to sink in the sky, we make our exit and start back up the strip in search of a bus stop. *I’ve since found the song on a blog: it’s a version by Superbass & Tom Novy, mixed by Paul Harris Ovum vs. Poker Flat at The Vagabond

Sweat on the Walls

Though tensions had nearly reached boiling point this afternoon, the Ovum vs. Poker Flat showcase proves to be all about letting go. Right off the bat, the atmosphere is the most comfortable we’ve experienced so far, and will probably be able to defend that title for the duration of the conference. Soft lights, not too crowded, plenty of room to sit...even the drinks are priced normally. It’s quite conducive to the unspoken understanding my friends and I arrive at as we sink into one of the plush couches off in a corner, where we remain for the entire night, too caught up in the ecstasy of the vibe being put out from the booth to even attempt to dance. Aside from the above photo, captured on a whim with my cell phone, no other photographic evidence exists linking us to The Vagabond that night -- and we never even saw a single DJ from our vantage point -- but this event is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the conference. My favorite moment occurs around 2 or 3 am, when someone drops the Tiger Stripes remix of “Aria” by Lee Jones, and the three of us simultaneously look up and at each other, smile, and sigh.
Day 3
Demon Days at The Delano

Poolside at The Delano

Talk about Nip/Tuck: King-size mattresses, bottle service cabanas, and plenty of silicon double-scoops surround the pool at The Delano, which is easily the most super-chic hotel I visit all week. We lounge on one of the mattresses until 7pm, when we’re informed that they’re now at a $500 minimum. Fuck that; there’s a Hennessey open bar, so we can at least pretend to be living large. Roland Appel provides the perfect ambient-tinged soundtrack to this lazy afternoon, as we settle back into our down pillows and get stoned on brandy. My opinion of him immediately goes through the roof when he plays one of my favorite tracks of the last several months, Martin Buttrich’s remix of “The Call Up” by the Far East Band. Demon Days co-founder Gamall is on next, and takes it up a notch above chill-out as we’re ejected from the mattress by an unsmiling pool boy. But I’m on my third Hennessey mojito, so it’s whatever. We move in closer to Gamall to better hear him over the screeching electro house of the Beatport pool party next door, which is intruding into our space.

The other end of the pool

We don’t get any pictures of Carl Craig, or any good ones I should say, because we seem to forget how to operate the flash on the camera once the sun sets. A thousand words won’t do the man justice, though, so you’ll just have to wish you were there. Volatl and Vision Nightclub Present: Destinations at Club Empire I only mention this party because it is the one and only time at the conference when my press pass actually impresses a doorman, not only to allow us inside without being on the list but to waive the cover and be nice about it. Thanks, man, whoever you are. I wish I had more to write about, though, because if you looked at the flyer for this show and didn’t get a little wet, you probably don’t like techno all that much. But Lisa and I get there way too early, so the place is dead, and after doing a lap and snagging copies of the promo CD lying on every open surface we have to leave to meet up with Matt at the Pawn Shop, where he’s eager to see Dominik Eulberg. RA vs. Kompakt at The Pawn Shop

Gui Boratto's live set at the Pawn Shop

The Pawn Shop was empty on Tuesday compared to this. Tonight, the clubbers are out in force, many of them dressed to the nines, and though I’ve been in high spirits all week, I start getting annoyed when people bump into me as I try to dance, first to über-remixer Ewan Pearson’s sugary house jams and then to Gui Boratto’s spirited live set. Everywhere I attempt to settle into a groove eventually becomes an avenue for people jockeying to get closer to the front, and it’s damn aggravating. After Gui Boratto we’re expecting Dominik Eulberg, but I find out later that he had to back out of his appearance due to illness. Resident Advisor has gotten Radio Slave to replace him though, and to my delight he opens with the mammoth Villalobos track “Fizbeast”, a 35-minute minimal stormer that basically confuses and alienates most of the dancefloor when he plays about half of it. Radio Slave is far more engaging this time around, perhaps due to the fact that his audience is quadruple the size of what he had on Tuesday night, and he eventually lures back the deserters. I’m at the front now, and I’ve got my elbow room, so I’m cool with that.

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