It was only about 2 p.m., but there was already some serious melodic but off-kilter tech-house churning forth from the stage, and a small but serious crowd dancing. No wonder. It was some of the current kings of wonky tech-y stuff doing a triple tag team set: Jamie Jones, Clive Henry, and Damian Lazarus. Bonus! The set was so good, I stayed by myself through to the end of their set, when it looked like it might seriously rain, and I realized I needed a nap more than hair of the dog.
Later on Friday night, after a rest period and a change into sensible shoes, I set out to the Ghostly International 10-year anniversary party at Grass/The King is Dead. It was about 12:30 when I got there, which was probably too early for this. Someone (don't know who, sorry) was playing a pretty minimal set in the outside patio of Grass, and some of the bougie dinner crowd was still lingering. Those Astro Turf-lined bathrooms never cease to amuse, though!
Things were livelier in the King is Dead, whose eclectic, garage-sale chic interior makes for some cozy hanging out. Matthew Dear was on almost appallingly early, but hey, it was his party, so he could spin if he wanted to. He was pumping out some pretty danceable stuff, and a small crowd was gamely dancing, but things hadn't really gelled yet. Also, the King is Dead's banquettes are almost criminally comfortable; I was worried I'd fall asleep. (The $13 I paid for a cocktail over in Grass didn't really encourage lingering, though).
After a little while I headed out, intending to return for peak hour, but I got pleasantly stuck over at the Annie Mac Presents party at White Room. Like her weekly radio show, Annie Mac's parties always present a snapshot of what's on the come-up in alt-dance circles. This meant hyperkinetic global beats courtesy of Buraka Som Sistema's J-Wow in White Room's red room. It was pretty much all dudes in there, trainspotting and head-nodding, when I checked it out, but the sound here was an interesting, exotic trip through sped-up world beats.
The main room was, of course, packed to the gills, with Mac herself on the decks when I got in, around 1:30 a.m. She was going hard, playing high-BPM fidget-type stuff that had a pretty, young crowd bouncing off the walls and creating rainforest levels of humidity.
An hour later brought a surprise set, though: a tag team between Skream and English up-and-comer Toddla T. The latter is one of my favorite new DJs, a guy who gets lumped in with the dubsteppers but plays a more high-energy mish-mosh that draws heavily from dancehall/ragga, drum n bass, old hardcore rave beats, UK funky, and a little hip-hop and two-step for good measure. In short, it's a blend of all the sounds of the multiculti U.K. underground.
His set with Skream (during which the latter swigged straight from a bottle of Grey Goose) started out with dubsteppy stuff, but soon went higher and higher in beats per minute. Eventually it went completely into ragga-flavored jump-up drum 'n' bass. With the rise of dubstep, I've felt that drum 'n' bass has been due for a concurrent resurgence, and here was further proof.
Toddla T tweeted afterwards he thought he had played his worst set ever; in that case I would love to hear him when he thinks he's on point. Hopefully he makes it back to Miami some time other than conference.
It was clear, though, that dubstep was still THE sound of a large chunk of WMC's underground parties. Next on decks was 12th Planet, who played relentlessly slow but hard. He took the crowd into a nasty, bass-driven frenzy late into the night.