Eden Terrace Garden at Nocturnal
Sunday, March 15th, 2009
Better than: all of the crap commercial Latin house clogging Miami's ears.
With its latest slew of notable underground techno bookings, Eden Terrace Garden at Nocturnal has garnered lots of press, so I figured I
should take a crack at reviewing at least one afterhours there. Last
Saturday seemed opportune, since Guti, a
personal favorite, would be playing a set. However, let me clarify that
the last time I'd been at Nocturnal about two years ago, I promised
myself I wouldn't return.
Afterhours clubbing is definitely not my
thing. There's something about finding myself still up and partying at
daybreak, all strung-out and mindlessly bobbing away to a harsh
relentless kick drum beat, that makes me feel monstrous, like a vampire
recoiling from the first light of day.
Techno afterhours attract a
uniquely impervious breed of hedonistic partier, and I cringe when I
find myself surrounded by all these drugged-out freaks writhing
stoically in their oversized shades. It reminds me of the opening scene
from the movie Blade, where this poor chump finds himself nightmarishly
surrounded by nightclubbing vampires.
That said, I decided to make the best of this particular Sunday dawn afterhours, and approach the matter detachedly, professionally. I got there at 4 a.m. and the terrace was almost empty -- with just a few bodies moving around the dancefloor while fairly insipid, albeit loud percussive techno blasted out of the speakers.
One of the first things I noticed was how poor the acoustics are on the terrace. Can't really blame the owners, considering the particular design of this outdoor space. But the sound seems refracted by the haphazard placement of speakers. The opening DJ sets were commercially unremarkable at best.
Around 5:30 a.m. the terrace was considerably more packed, and there
was an immediate change of climate on the dancefloor as Guti kicked off
his live PA. Armed with laptop and MIDI hardware controller, he began
interweaving his signature Latin polyrhythms, jazzy harmonies and
bouncy bass as the dancing quotient grew.
While he was raised in the Argentina-by-way-of-Berlin school of minimal techno, there's often hardly anything resembling minimal or
techno in Guti's sound. Congas, bongos, claves, and timbales lead
intricate rhythms as salsa piano riffs and even brash mambo orchestral
samples accentuate the pulsating Afro-Latin
beat. The sleek stripped-down production, however, did away with all
the boisterous inessentials of traditional Carribean dance music,
keeping it minimal yet flavorful.
He put on a fine set, and I stuck
around long enough to enjoy it before heading home to escape the
Personal Bias: Reservations about afterhours clubbing aside, I'm a fan of Guti's music.
No night amongst Miami afterhours' finest would be complete without
some douche bag meat head getting into a brawl and kicked out of the
club by bouncers. In this case it took four of them, and they first had
to tackle him on the floor and put a chokehold on him before dragging
By the way: if you missed Guti this time
around, be sure to catch at least one of his performances during WMC
week, preferably at White Room or Electric Pickle, where the superior
sound systems will do him justice.