Thursday, April 01, 2004

wmc 2004

too much of a good thing ~ story & photos by todd ~ Hopping a plane in the late morning hours of Thursday, March 4, Tim (DJ Solaris) and I started our little adventure to Miami, South Beach and the Winter Music Conference. Neither of us had actually gotten the "pass" in to the conference. Tim said you really didn't need it and everyone else I talked to essentially said the same, so I didn't bother with it either.

We arrived rather late in Miami due to a small issue with weather in Dallas that delayed us an hour and went out for a walk around 11 pm and just kind of soaked up the balmy evening. It was 70° and absolutely perfect for a stroll down Collins Ave to get a feel for the layout of the streets and whatnot. We ran into a couple of girls from Holland desperately seeking a certain party and decided to just walk them up to where they wanted to be. We thought about going in, but decided to conserve some energy for the upcoming events and just headed back up the beach to the Hotel.

Friday, we made a trip down to GrooveMan Records so Tim could get some new records for his gig that evening at The Womb radio station.

This was no small gig for DJ Solaris. The Womb is the only broadcaster in the world providing 24/7 multimedia broadcasts of live music performances and mixes. The Womb broadcasts to a monthly audience of over 1.5 million. In 2001 the Company’s live broadcasts were chosen and syndicated by Terra Lycos networks as their global Terra DJ for use by their 90 million customers on all their web sites and portals around the world. Their distribution channels and networks include almost 1000 other Internet sites that directly link to The Womb and around 120 college radio stations in North America that carry The Womb’s broadcast. To all those people that evening, came sound of Hard Techno pounding across the digital airwaves, with live video broadcast from the booth and a 3D Virtual Club from their site.

We made a stop after that at Nikki's Beach, a very cool little club down at the very southern end of South Beach. What a great layout! Teepees for private conversations and futons laid out everywhere for lounging around on the sand.

Somewhere along the way, the Matrix Girl called and told us to head up to Lounge 16, so we headed up to Lounge 16 to meet up with some friends and hear some Drum N Bass. It was the first time since Merly B came to Kansas City that I really got to feel Florida Drum N Bass up close and personal and it only left me wanting more after three hours on the small but lively dance floor.

Saturday found us preparing to enter Ultra 2004. The Music Festival of The Conference. 14 hours of non-stop music on 12 stages with over 200 artists and producers. We got there sometime in the afternoon. After passing through three separate checkpoints at the gate with my camera and camera bag, explaining to each person why I was using the camera, we were finally in.

Our first stop was the Drum N Bass stage where Baron was just finishing up and DJ Rap was just coming on. She played the usual rockin set, much to the pleasure of the couple of hundred or so gathered around to see her, but with the need to see more I departed to other arenas.

Traveling around Bayfront Park, I took in the likes of Tracy Young, Oscar G, Chris Fortier, Perry Ferrell, Way OUt West. Slowly but surely making my way towards the Amphitheater, I was fortunate enough to arrive in time to catch the end of Junkie XL and with the help of some St Louis ravers (thanks guyz!), made my way to within 20 feet of the stage for the beginning of Tiesto's set. The crowd was already pumped and was chanting his name over and over.

After getting some shots there, from the ground and from Tim's shoulders, it was time to head off for other scenes like Photek, The Collective (Sasha, John Digweed, James Zabiela & Infusion), Erick Morillo, Josh Wink, Dave Ralph, Simply Jeff, Steve Lawler, K-Swing, Rabbit in the Moon. You get the idea. It was almost too much. Though it was definitely a bargain to be able to see all the headliners you could possibly want to see in one day for $60, there were too many options.

I stopped by the Freedom Arena a couple times that day. If I were to pick a stage where the most people were dancing, I would have to say that was it. It was while we were stopping by there on our way out around Midnight that I encountered the "Bitch with the Badge" who got so bent out of shape about me not having my Press Credentials that she rudely escorted me out. I hadn't caused her or anyone else any trouble and I was friendly and cooperative with her when she started her query about my camera.

Barely giving me any time to explain, I told her that I had passed through three checkpoints when I came in and each of them had told me that it was ok to bring the camera in. She said, "I don't give a shit", grabbed my arm and put her hand in my back and started pushing me through the crowd towards the back gate. I just went along. Hell, we were just about to leave anyway. It probably wouldn't have been so bad except that as she was pushing me along through the crowd it was almost as if she was deliberately trying to ram me in to people. After a minute or so of that, I decided it was time to say something and told her that I didn't mind leaving, or her restraining me as we left, but it really was unnecessary for her to intentionally push me in to other people. They didn't do anything. Why should they suffer this abuse? I think she got the hint and backed down a little. Some people really need to lighten up just a little.

It was a good event, but if I return to Miami for the WMC in the future, I seriously doubt that I will waste my time with Ultra. There was too much going on all at the same time that I wanted to see and nearly every act that played there that day was playing at some point that week somewhere else in Miami, a lot of times... For No Cover!

Sunday was definitely a day of rest. I got up late and kind of lounged around and went out to eat or something. Finally, later in the evening, we hooked up with Steve Thorell at GroovePad 2004, a poolside party being held at The Creek Hotel. There were several other people there from Kansas City and we all just kind of chilled out and had entirely too many cocktails.

We all left from there, jumped in a cab to head back to Steve's hotel for a minute. We really gave the cabby a ride. The DJ in the front seat immediately took command of the car's stereo, found some good house and proceeded to use the limited controls he had to bounce the car a little, mixing and fading and just playing around. It was a good thing the cabby had a sense of humor.

After a cocktail at the bar, we started to head for the CroBar when we discovered that we were running a little low on cash and every ATM was as well. Fanning out looking for one, we all ended up losing each other. Tim and I met back at the hotel and ran into PhukBed and some kids from Atlanta, GA and chilled in the room for a bit, sipping Chartreuse. That was all that it took for me. I was done for the night and passed out right there on the bed, though it was probably for the best because the next day was going to be another long one.

Monday started off with Breakbeat Science, poolside at the Ritz. I met most of their krewe and hung about for some really cool beats. I left a little early though because I needed to get myself together for a special VIP party that we had been invited to at Pearl @ Nikki's Beach. That was to be a nice smooth starter party for the evening with Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick. The After Party (at the same place) was just as good. It kicked off with ?uestLove DJing some tunes for us.

And... on my way out, I discovered that there was another party going on downstairs that John Graham was playing and Rap was to be up next, I think, but it was time to go. It was time for the Tronic Treatment.

Words can't describe the pulse that pounded within the walls of The Privelege Club as headliners Marco Bailey and Cristian Varela gave everyone there the "Treatment" they came for. We (of course) stumbled into vjOnes there soaking up the Techno on the balcony just as Adam Jay was coming on up there. I could not be kept from the pulse downstairs however and headed back down to do a little pounding on the floor and kept it up most of the time there. It was good. It was better than good. Heading out to the street at 5 am was disappointing at best. I and everyone else wanted more. It was ok though. There was more to be had the next night.

Tuesday, my last full day and night there, was spent at the DJ Series: Wet Edition party down at the Shelbourne Hotel, a party that Aphrodisiac was involved with featuring Ming & FS, Perry Ferrell and best of all Monk. I hung around poolside and chatted with Ming & FS for a minute after their set and talked with several other. I also had the opportunity to meet DJ Symmetry who's CD I have become quite addicted to. It is definitely a fierce set of DnB that I just can't seem to get dislodged from my car's CD player.

From there, Tim and I were determined to really kick it for the evening. Retiring the camera to the hotel room safe, we were head back to the Privilege Club for another fine evening of Techno featuring Marco Carolo, Chris Liebing, Gateano Parisio and Danilo Vigorito. Each of them banged it out for those of us on the dance floor who had come for just that.

Then there were those who were just in the way. Word to the wise, if you're at a party and you're not there to dance, Get Off The Dance Floor. You Are In The Way! Several times there were a few guys that were standing in the middle of the floor watching the DJ. After a very determined crowding effort by myself and others who were similarly annoyed by these unmoved people, they got the message and faded off of the floor and we finally were rid of them. It is amazing how convincing several different sets of elbows can be. Finally we were all at peace to dance the last 4 hours of the evening. 6 hours of dancing. What a way to end the week. Making it even better, the last hour Marco, Chris & Gaetano tagged back and forth further whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Pushed out the door at 5 am, I and everyone else were drenched in sweat from dancing so long and so hard. Nothing could equal that experience. The room had been alive, even more so than the previous night. I definitely didn't want it to end.

Sadly though, it was over. Not just the night, but the whole week. It had flashed by faster than any of us had expected. It was a good journey and like everyone told me, you really don't need a WMC pass to have a good time. There's enough going on to completely wear you. If you can't find something to get into, you are either staying in your hotel entirely too much or you are walking around blindfolded.

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