During the very early portion of New Year's Eve, the final 24 hours of 2015 were being celebrated in typical Miami party fashion: waiting in an anaconda of a line before entering a club and taking enough selfies to fill a high school yearbook. Perhaps the clamor at LIV was somewhat understandable as none other than Calvin Harris was on hand to help usher the Magic City into 2016 (with Kygo and the Weeknd scheduled to complete that adventure tonight at the Fontainebleau). It was a dream come true for the huddled masses but also a well-designed dream with a lot of moving parts.
Opening for the Grammy Award-winning producer was fellow Englishman Burns, a DJ who's remixed the headliner several times as well as Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea, and Lana Del Rey. He's also a dead ringer for what could pass as Harris' (slightly) younger cousin. Still, as good of a job as he did, if we're being honest, a large majority of the crowd was really just milling about, waiting for Harris, and dancing politely to Burns' set.
Also working hard was the LIV crew.
Seriously. Yes, this review should mostly be about how great Calvin Harris was, and we'll get to that. But first, let's give credit where it's due. The price of admission to a swanky EDM show like this is in the hundreds, with people often paying double the face value just to get in. The club and the artist both make
For example, there was the invaluable advice I received from a staff member at LIV who tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Move your wallet into your front pocket. Don't trust anybody tonight.” Perhaps he spotted me as an easy mark. I did what I was told and spent the rest of the evening suspiciously eyeballing potential thieves.
LIV's exceptional service for exceptionally drunk people extended into keeping the fantasy clean and without blemishes. The staff was lightning quick in keeping everyone happy,
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Also populating the venue was a bevy of faces that felt familiar but were hard to place; and no, as far as I saw, Taylor Swift didn't join her beau in South Florida. Perhaps she was already on her way to Las Vegas, where Harris will be lighting up the strip with a set at Caesar's Palace tonight. Instead, it was a sea of possible celebrities of a different kind: actors? athletes? porn stars? Eastern European gangsters? was that a Vine comedian? In the blurring, flashing opaqueness of the dark, it was difficult to tell, but the audience certainly felt famous or, at the very least, important.
That's one of the things that LIV does so well. With a giant mural of Al Pacino's Scarface towering over the main staircase, the echoes of a dangerous, scandalous nightlife reverberate throughout the venue, permeating each beat drop and thunderous, chest-shaking boom. It's a fiction the club likes to create with A-list acts such as Calvin Harris and the Weeknd (and the occasional surprise Bieber) and by making a big production out of bottle service. Imagine a glittery Little Red Riding Hood delivering Champagne with a gang of beautiful women surrounding the bottle with fluorescent batons and a giant cardboard cutout of your face. Yes, your face.
This fantasy of the “best night ever” was made
Harris' set was a radio-friendly collection of his own work with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch, and Rihanna, and remixes of various chart toppers. None of that should come as a surprise, as that's part of his appeal; he's a pop musician through and through. Every beat drop made hearts drop, each accompanied by its own volcanic smoke-machine eruption. Whirring above our heads was a carnival of lights and lasers. It was like being inside of the Gravitron but without all the motion sickness (although vomiting certainly must have occurred for a few, but for different reasons.)
Two hours into Harris' set, around 3:30 a.m., there was still a crowd of people trying to finagle their way in, either via kindness or kickbacks. They wanted to join the multitude of revelers attempting to live up to the “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” mantra. They wanted to be waited on hand and foot by LIV's hard-working crew. They wanted to infiltrate this exclusive gathering where all of Miami's tallest women congregated to stretch their calves and compare heel sizes. They wanted to party alongside that guy in the middle of the dance floor who looked like somebody's dad and was shirtless and was feeling the music so hard that he had to feel himself up too.
Did they get in? I'd like to think so. After all, a night with Calvin Harris at LIV may be expensive and chaotic, but for many in Miami, it was worth the trouble and worth the wait.