Saturday Night: MSTRKRFT at Heathrow Lounge
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Heathrow Lounge, Miami Beach
Better Than: Ninety percent of the other Basel parties during the week.
Art Basel brought plenty of musical performances during the week. Unfortunately, most of them were invite-only or secret parties no one knew about. But Saturday night, Heathrow Lounge had a come-one, come-all party (as long as you paid the $25 cover charge) with Canadian electro-house duo MSTRKRFT. They aren't exactly strangers to the city; I've personally heard them spin more times than I can remember, last time being at the Fool's Gold party at White Room the Friday night of Winter Music Conference. Unfortunately, White Room hadn't exactly upgraded its sound system during the week, like many other venues do, so the sound was muddled and completely off.
But that definitely wasn't a problem at Heathrow Lounge, where MSTRKRFT finally broke in the venue's speakers properly. Nope, sound wasn't an issue at all, but there were issues. To understand why there were issues, we have to look to MSTRKRFT. The duo is part of a new breed of DJs/producers that are idolized more like rockstars than your traditional DJ. People literally go to see MSTRKRFT as if it were a KISS concert and Jesse Keeler and Al-P are going to shoot fireworks from their fingers as they twist and turn knobs. People press against the DJ booth pumping their fist in the air and do the occasional headbang. Yes, seeing MSTRKRFT live is more of a rock concert experience than a traditional DJ set.
So what exactly is the problem? Heathrow's layout is very unfriendly to the rock star-DJ-concert format. Because of the position of the DJ booth, MSTRKRFT is basically hidden from most of the crowd, which leads to a sense of detachment of what's going on around you. Part of the experience is seeing your fellow clubber reach his or her climatic peak along with the song all the while encouraging the duo to take it to the next level.
That's not to say I don't appreciate Heathrow's commitment to bringing acts to South Beach that otherwise are better suited for a downtown audience. The venue has found a underserved niche is the area, and from the looks of it it's fulfilling their needs quite nicely. The only other venue on the beach that every really supported these kinds of bookings outside of WMC is Rokbar; and lets face it, it isn't exactly the best venue to see MSTRKRFT either.
As far at the duo is concerned, their set was filled with electro goodness that you've come to expect from them. Plenty of who-cares-what-the-name-of-the-track-playing-now-is collided with their own tracks such as "Easy Love" and the severely unappreciated "Neon Knights."
Personal Bias: Whenever I scream, "OMG! This is my jam!" it's usually an electro-house track.
Random Detail: While the duo has enough cred to last them a lifetime, they definitely must have lost a few points after remixing Jesse McCartney's "Leavin'" and the abysmal "Love In This Club" by Usher.
By The Way: If you missed them this time around, I'm pretty sure they'll be back for WMC, if not before then.
-- Jose D. Duran