There is only one reason to bother going to Miami for the Winter Music Conference and that’s the Revolver party. And that party, held for the second year at the Pawn Shop, on March 24, isn’t even an official part of the WMC. It might be hard to top last year’s P. Diddy–Felix–DJ Hell triad, but the New York all-star team, Fixed’s Josh Houtkin (JDH) and Dave P., Tommy Saleh, and DFA, assembled a lineup so fresh it featured not one but two U.S. debuts. No dusty DJs here. No Pete, Paul, or Judge. (That’s Tong, Oakenfold, and Jules.) No house music from 1997 fronting to be the next shit, no “legends.” Instead, it’s yes to the Get Physical Crew ( M.A.N.D.Y. and DJ T), yes to Hot Chip and the Juan MacLean, yes to the Presets.
With over 1,500 people in attendance, it was as if you’d combined all the discerning, stylish music geeks from Seattle, L.A., San Francisco, and New York, and corralled them all into a cavernous three-room, indoor-outdoor space. The Revolver-Fixed pairing was a New York dance music enthusiast’s utopia, where there’s no cabaret law or smoking ban. And most importantly, there was this other freaky thing: space. You could do that thing so rare, it’s practically foreign to New Yorkers: dance.
New Yorkers abounded. Tim Sweeney did outdoor DJ duty while his pretty lady (we can’t bring ourselves to call her a Motherfucker), Justine D, ran around with a clipboard. James F*%cking Friedman (he makes us curse) rocked out, didn’t check his you-know-what. JDH, Saleh, and Mandy Brooks actually got to enjoy their creation. Our fave Frenchman, Max Pask—who lamented a few years ago that I wasn’t going to Miami because no one would be there to remember what he did—might be SOL this year too (and it’s all his fault).
The revelations: French DJ-production duo Justice (Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé) and Booka Shade, both of whom made their U.S. debuts. Booka Shade was pretty and melodic and fierce at the same time, rendering Ecstasy totally unnecessary. Justice set the place on fire when they dropped an oldie but goodie, the Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up.” I don’t care if the song’s sexist—it’s still slamming. For good measure, they ended with “Be My Baby.” Hell had a tough act to follow, but did just fine, thanks. Before he went on, I told him about the rumor I’d heard last month that he died from a heroin OD. I knew it seemed fishy because he doesn’t do drugs and he only drinks champagne. He raised his flute and said, “I’m alive and well!”
Saturday night was all right for fighting. Or at least that’s what some dorks thought at the Misshapes‘ party, held at the creepiest hotel ever, the Shore Club, where Lady Sovereign was hanging out. The scrappy Brit rapper ain’t playing at tough girl—she’ll beat a bitch. I asked her about the fight, and she said two fans asked to take a picture and grabbed a bottle of Grey Goose off a nearby table—”to pose with, not stealin’ it.” But the people at the table were humorless and apparently also stupid: One of them threw a weak punch, she got in their face, and the fight simmered down. But a few minutes later, a pack attacked her manager: Sov did her best to fend them off before security broke it up, but her manager had to be taken to the hospital. I expressed my sympathy and added the incident to my lengthy file of Why Bottle Service Is Evil. At the end of our conversation she added, “I like you ’cause you’re short.” We swapped heights (she’s taller—”five-foot-one and a bit”), and did some kind of short persons’ handshake and hug exchange. I was informed later that this is called the pound hug. Hip-hop is so weird.
The MisShapes—represented by two out of the three waifs, Geo and Leigh (Greg K held down the fort at Don Hill’s)—had a coterie of celebs on their hands, including the Killers, Hot Hot Heat, Felix Da Housecat,and Victoria Gotti, while Steve Aoki spun at a volume so low it seemed like this was the Whisper Music Festival (apparently Miami Beach’s new noise ordinance, which went into effect on March 18, just in time for the WMC, is almost as draconian and dumb as New York’s cabaret law.)
Walking down Collins Avenue, I wondered when dance music got hijacked by frat boys and cheap hookers with even cheaper boobs. The garish fashions and fake and real tans got to be so much that I tried willing Carlos D to appear in his goth gear. I got the next best thing in the pale, wispy MisShapes crew. Adventurous kids, they gave their plane tickets to Sophia Lamar and other friends, and drove down in a bus instead—all eight of them. Their posse included Surface2Air’s Gordon Hull and MAC babe and Sounds cover girl Alexis Page—who’s looking so much like Geo, he said that sometimes he sees pictures of her and says, “Damn! I look good!” The entourage turned out for the party on Sunday night at the Rokbar (Tommy Lee‘s joint), where they spun with local DJ Lazaro Casanova, whose set I quite liked for its crunchy techno texture. A bizarre mix of dance music regulars clashed with the rockers: Paul Oakenfold mingled near Craig Pfunder of VHS or Beta, while Heidi Gallant of local band Quarterslot danced up a storm. Not to be outdone, the oldest punk, Jimmy Webb of Trash and Vaudeville—taken to Miami by the MSers because they love him and he dresses them up—made the rest of us look bad because he boogied so hard. Spencer Product and Junior Sanchez preened for the camera, wielded by—who else?— Merlin Bronques of Last Night’s Party.
Near the end, I wanted to not hear dance music. It poured out of every crevice—restaurants, beaches, hotels, cars. On Sunday night at the early karaoke party at the Shelbourne thrown by Tommie Sunshine (the flyer proudly pronounced it a “turntable-free event”), I got my wish and watched Mark Verbos sing Aerosmith, and watched a group of scenesters, including John B, Patrick “The Captain” and Michael Cohn of Cut, Milena Mepris, and Syrup Girl Vivian Host (a/k/a Star Eyes) sing along to Bon Jovi. So busted. So was I.
Miami is the place where anything goes, where Pharrell from the Neptunes doesn’t get recognized when he’s trying to get into a party at the Marlin Hotel, but gets saved by the beat-enthusiastic crowd, where Paris and Björk might be at a party but no one sees them, but the rumor’s just as good as reality. Miami is the sort of place where the Heatherette fashion show was delayed by over an hour and half, in part, because they were still spray painting the runway (and had misspelled Heatherette on the catwalk); where, when waiting in line with Small Change and DJ Shakey you are entertained by a video of a drunk dancing dude at the earlier Femi Kuti concert. In Miami, you can sit front row in between David Hershkovits, Mickey Boardman, and Gary Pini and watch Lady Bunny command the photographers in the photo pit as much as the models on the stage. Best thing about the Heatherette fashion show, artfully handled by the Trinity: cellulite. On the models’ legs. It made me feel like a normal girl.
Miami is also the sort of place where someone will come dressed in a bunny rabbit suit for no reason at all, where a guy will walk around with a black sparkly megaphone and will promptly lick it whenever a camera is pointed in his direction (he gave me his card; he was from L.A.—figures); where you enter a party and get not one, but three special wristbands, each with its own V.I.P. purpose; where getting up at noon is early; where going to a party that starts at 5 a.m. is perfectly normal, and where sleep just doesn’t happen. Sleep is for suckers, anyway.
I got just enough sleep to hang on for Jamie Lidell on Saturday night. He played after Lady Sovereign on the M3 Summit stage at the Surfcomber (the cooler, alternate fest masterminded by David Prince, once the master of the master list). You wouldn’t have guessed it before the show, but the mild-looking Englishman made his fellow countrywoman seem practically demure. Lidell was totally unhinged and easily the most entertaining performer I saw in Miami. He introduced one tune thus: “It’s a little song about Berlin. I couldn’t handle it, so the song’s a bit negative.” Lidell has a bunch of analog gear and samplers that he uses to manipulate his own voice. He creates beats on the fly and sings over himself. He’s a white boy with the velvety voice of a black soul singer. He reminds you oddly of Will Ferrell, if Will Ferrell were better looking and not quite as dorky. He dances, spazzes out, comes out from behind his equipment, and sings directly to the crowd. By the end of the set, every single woman in the audience was ovulating. Probably some men too. Jamie Lidell, be my little baby. Or, better yet, I’ll just have yours. That’d be sweet justice.