MIAMI — Sleep was nothing but an afterthought among the sonic smorgasbord of Sunday and Monday Winter Music Conference events that included live performances and DJ sets by, among others, Richie Hawtin, Roni Size & Reprazent, Danny Tenaglia, Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx.
Faced with the daily conundrum of five times the number of desirable events for the amount of real time in a day, what was the poor Winter Music Conference reveler to do?
The answer for the last two days and nights of the annual global dance-music spectacle was the same as it has been every year: don’t stop.
Whether that means don’t stop dancing to the groove (at any of the dozens of glamorous shindigs at South Beach’s clubs, hotel poolsides or exclusive boat cruises and mansion parties), don’t stop workin’ it (at the roiling, tireless shmoozefest that is the conference’s social fuel) or don’t stop the party (the decadence is awe-inspiring and seemingly ubiquitous), there has been enough fantastic music in Miami over the last two days to spoil even the most jaded dance-music fan.
One of the conference’s most talked-about parties was the showcase for Detroit independent label Intuit-Solar (home to ghetto-tech/booty bass dons DJ Assault and DJ Godfather), though not necessarily for its musical aspect. Bringing the speedy, gritty beats and lewd, goofy lyrics to their seemingly natural home at the South Beach strip joint Club Madonna, Assault and Godfather provided a fitting soundtrack to the nude dancers with such hit tracks as “Ass-N-T–ties” and “Ho’s in This House,” with some music-industry members receiving complimentary lap dances.
A more conventional and typical WMC offering came Sunday night in the form of one of the week’s premier lineups, at Decadence, a party sponsored by the leading American dance-music magazine Urb. Stocked with artists who normally pack venues on their own, the event’s four sound areas provided as accurate a cross-section of dance music as any this year.
Size and his live drum’n’bass outfit Reprazent finished their U.S. tour in fine style at Decadence, tearing through cuts from last year’s In the Mode and their epic debut, New Forms (1997), with an incendiary mix of blistering digital funk and organic, soulful grooves. Bay Area veteran DJ Dan followed with a solid if unadventurous set of breaks that warmed the largest room at the club, Space, for the night’s headliner, Hawtin.
Simply by performing live electronic music in a week supersaturated with DJ sets, Hawtin distinguished himself from the rest of the techno class Sunday night. That he produced a chest-quaking, fiery ensemble of minimal, at times brutal, tracks with his signature getup — three turntables, a 909 analog bass synth and a bank of effects — established, yet again, that Hawtin is alone today in dance music’s top tier in his ability to entertain while thoroughly challenging the listener.
Space’s Red Room was given over to the Berlin-based Sonar Kollektiv, an affiliation of mostly downtempo producers influenced by jazz (especially Latin-flavored) and house music. Sonar artists Fauna Flash, Truby Trio and Jazzanova, who lead the collective, spun mesmerizing deep house and dubby techno sets that featured elements of Brazilian and African percussion as well as soul jazz and funk.