NADA Art Fair's Fade to Mind Takeover
With Kingdom, Nguzunguzu, and Total Freedom
Sandbar, Miami Beach
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Art Basel Miami Beach, when art walk goes to SoBe and takes steroids, is rife with the kind of surrealism that'd only make sense if Riff Raff narrated it.
Celeb sightings, secret shows, RSVPs -- art is sometimes as much part of the equation as the actual Basel, Switzerland.
Stlll, it was nice that the Fade to Mind label and the New Art Dealers Alliance decided to throw an afterparty, "no RSVPs, no lines," in the relatively stress-free confines of a bar on Collins Avenue across the street from the Deauville.
Fade to Mind is a label brimming with possibilities.
There's MikeQ's neo-vogue ballroom on a space colony. There's Fatima al Qadiri's reclaiming of gunshots, sirens, and walloping synths from Call of Duty and faux-trap to reflect on her Gulf War upbringing in Kuwait. There's Kelela, the label's breakout star of 2013, and her Cut 4 Me.
For Saturday's afterparty, though, label cofounder Kingdom was listed as performing with duo Nguzunguzu, whose Skycell EP from 2013 is the only valid James Bond entry since GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64.
When you put them together, the names of the artists and releases on the Fade to Mind label sound like a Snow Crash-informed game of Risk.
That the label's Basel afterparty was to take place at Miami Beach's Sandbar made sense. A Key West-style joint with a floor of actual sand and bathroom signs separating "Chicks" from "Dicks." It was a place perfect for a takeover.
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We showed up at 10 p.m., listed as starting time. But in Miami, that's basically a few hours early. So we had time to observe a hapless longboard-carrying wanderer in flip-flops and a bathing suit who was seemingly unaware of what was happening to his generally reliable hangout.
His befuddlement was visible as he took in the post-Basel fashion. Our favorite: a guy waiting in line for the men's room while rocking a Jamie Stewart crew cut, Milla Jovovich-in-the-Fifth Element-informed top, tight white pants, and heels.
Along with Kingdom and Nguzunguzu, "special guests" were advertised, and we were hoping to catch a Kelela set (who had been impossible to track down during Basel week except for morning-after tags on InstaVid) or one from Fatima al Qadiri, who played last year.
I spotted the latter, arriving with impeccable style and what looked like a stunt double. But eventually, the "special guests" was revealed to be Fade to Mind labelmate Total Freedom.
The opener, DJ Pablo, serviceably held it down with New Order and other dancefloor regulars till Nguzu took the stage with bleak whale-call synth stabs and limping syncopation.
If any popular song appeared, it was generally given a slightly altered perspective, such as when Drake's "Started From the Bottom" got lyrics in Arabic.
Mostly, though, the night was all about the Fade to Mind crew's own material. Like a song by Future Brown (a side project from Nguzu, Fatima Al Qadiri, and J-Cush) with Tink, a rising, hard-as-fuck female rapper from Chicago, about leaving dudes wanting more at the club. The song's skittering 808s, muted shofar blows of the synths, and arrhythmic bells all sounded like Mortal Kombat's Shao Kahn announcing arrival to the Outworld.
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We left at around 3 a.m., when the whole crew dropped an extended loop of majestic Bajan princess Rihanna's "If It's Lovin' That You Want." The party was still raging. And the next morning, we found a photo on Instagram of Nguzunguzu's Asma Maroof lightly trolling Sandbar's "Dicks" bathroom sign by throwing up a deuces in front of it.
-- Adam Katzman