Art Basel Music: Soulwax Brings the Techno to MOCA LA Beach Bash at the Raleigh

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MOCA LA Beach Bash with Soulwax
Wednesday, November 30
The Raleigh, Miami Beach

Better than: Being surrounded by candy ravers at Ultra.

We'll start out by saying that MOCA LA's Beach Bash is one of the parties you couldn't get into unless you were invited. Or a member of the media who sent an email begging to be let in.

This review almost makes us feel like we're gloating.

Unlike last year, MOCA didn't rope off a standing room-only general admission area for the plebs. And as we sat among obvious members of the One Percent, we momentarily wished they had forced people like us to watch from afar. We really didn't belong.

Either way, a Soulwax booking in Miami is so rare that we're sure anyone would have jumped at the chance to see them, even if it was from a distance of 500 feet.

Anyway, rant over, and here comes the gloating.

Soulwax was fucking awesome. Having attended last year's party with LCD Soundsystem, I feel compelled to offer up comparisons. But that would be unfair. At least among the crowd gathered last night, it seemed that Soulwax might not have been as well recognized as James Murphy's outfit -- we spent 20 minutes talking to a French-Arabic lady with absolutely no idea who the Belgium brothers were.

Not surprising, though. While still a dance-punk band, LCD always had a lot of pop appeal, from traditional hooks to fairly conventional song structure. However, Soulwax is the kind of band better suited for the sweaty masses at an event like Ultra Music Festival.

Soulwax, expanded to a quartet with the addition of a drummer and synthesizer player, really is a dance music act to the fullest extent. Brothers David and Stephen Dewaele bring it -- hard. We haven't had our body rattled this much since March.

But it wasn't a party full of candy ravers and club kids. There were people old enough to be our grandparents dancing next to us -- hard. And even the most mature members of this MOCA crowd enjoyed Soulwax's extended versions of tracks like "NY Excuse," "Miserable Girl," and "Slowdance."

The showstopper came during "Theme From Discotheque," which Soulwax normally performs in front of thousands to the chant of "pounding techno music." Last night, this song was performed for about 200 people, half of whom were sitting down or quietly drinking free Grey Goose cocktails at the bar.

But I suppose that's part of the MOCA LA party's appeal. The acts seem as though they're playing just for you. There are no crazy barricades or security goons. It's as if you could walk right up to the stage and join in. Of course, no one attempted to climb up onstage with Soulwax last night. We all listened politely while a dedicated group of about 50 danced and cheered along.

Toward the end of the set, Soulwax thanked Miami from having them. But we aren't sure if they realized who they were performing for: a decidedly non-Miami crowd in town for Basel. Hopefully the brothers will pay the real Miami a visit in the near future. Here's hoping for March.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: The One Percent and Nancy Whang. No sight of James Murphy, though.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Who is this?" (French-Arabic lady asking us about Soulwax.)

Our Random Tweet During the Show: "Soulwax is melting my braaaaiiiiiinnnn."

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