On a breezy Sunday afternoon, you could hear the throbbing bass of electronic dance music pulsing down Second Avenue in Delray Beach. And if you followed your sense of rhythm, you could dance through two wide-open patio doors and into a courtyard where DJs, handpicked by EDM duo Deep Therapy, thumped and untzed. The two hosted their sixth Soundbox Music Festival at Il Bacio Resatuarant and Lounge, plowing through set after danceable set.
The spot was littered with ladies in strange shoes and short skirts, holding drinks and wiggling next to guys ready to battle it out b-boy style, should you cross them. Lights flashed even with the sun up in the sky, with a lounge atmosphere in full effect. Couches beneath umbrellas on the patio and a welcoming blanket of air conditioning invited those who couldn't quite stand the heat to take refuge while still being able to listen to sounds by DJs like Basstian and Shayne Pilpel. Despite the swampy feel, the crowd stayed mainly outside and dancing in what seemed like shifts -- especially the break-dancing dudes.
Around game time, no choice needed to be made between music and basketball. A screen propped up to the side of the stage broadcasted the Heat-Spurs game. No one really seemed too interested in basketball, giving more of their attention to Andy Pate, an Ultra Music Festival veteran, who took to the decks as the sun set. The stage set-up was modest, just a few couches for those brave enough to lounge at the source of the heavy bass projecting off the stage.
Pate offers more than your average "house music" fare, and while each DJ seemed to have their own style and sound, Pate's completely avoided that whirly borderline techno sound that the genre so often falls victim to. He used phaser effects and delay to modify the tracks he chose and experimented with timing that didn't fall into line with a lot of other DJs who played it a bit more safely (i.e., the bass doesn't drop when everyone expects it to, and the "tsssk" of a high hat doesn't consume every downbeat).
While Pate was a tough act to follow, Renato Lopez held his own, experimenting in his own way, layering a stripped-down track of dialogue over an undeniable rhythm in a style called a cappella. Though Lopez was providing tracks that even the most selective electronic music snobs could get on board with, the atmosphere at Il Bacio took an unfortunate turn as the center bar closed down and shuttered up, creating an obstruction for those lounging near the back, surveying the scene or watching the stage.
This served as a signal to some that the venue was closing, and so those head-boppers were lost to the gesture. But the slightly hostile sense of Il Bacio continued as staffers from the establishment swept up the couch cushions from behind those leaving and not too soon afterward started collecting the couch cushions from those that were actually occupied. Others broke down the umbrellas and deconstructed the screen that the Heat game was being projected on.
All of this in the middle of Lopez's set. Next was Luke Hunter. He played for about an hour, serving a different kind of sound that definitely dabbled in the techno realm with revolving bass lines could make you a bit seasick if you weren't careful. Not everyone's cup of tea, yet there were plenty who cut a rug to what he was laying down.
Before Hunter's set was even over, the bar was shouting for last call, and the seamless stream of music that hadn't stopped all day came to a halt. The whirring lights and club atmosphere were killed in a moment when the house lights came on over the bar and the partygoers were snapped back into a sense of reality.
The Soundbox schedule reported that Deep Therapy was still yet to perform, but 15 minutes before they were scheduled to take the stage and through no fault of their own, bouncer-type dudes wearing all black suddenly descended on the scene and let everyone know that the lounge was officially closed. Looking around, the bar was completely wiped out, chairs up and staff impatiently waiting to leave. So with confused looks all around, those who had endured a day of community-based EDM took to those wide-open patio doors and spilled out onto the streets of Delray, much to the surprise and dismay of Deep Therapy, who along with other performers were left to deconstruct their gear.
While it lasted, Soundbox was, in content, what it promised via promotion and hype -- a group of DJs uniquely plugging away for the sake of a free community-based event. The party had potential to last way into Monday morning and maybe could have fleshed out those barriers to all night raving had Soundbox met South Florida halfway, maybe in Fort Lauderdale or even Hollywood, which could have inspired those in Miami and Broward counties to more comfortably take part.
Either way, Soundbox carried an enormous energy encouraged by the folks of Deep Therapy and the EDM community here, despite the unfriendly vibes of a venue too uptight for its own good.
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