Even as Miami hit uncharacteristically cool 50-degree weather, at least one group of South Floridians kept warm this past Sunday. Life in Color returned to Miami for its 11th edition, attracting throngs of excitable young people to Mana Wynwood for an evening of paint, EDM, and repetitive cries of “one, two, three, go!”
For a district built on the strength of its 21-and-over bars, Life in Color briefly transformed Wynwood into an epicenter of intense teenage drama and energy. Attracted by the promise of Miami sensation Lil Pump as well as the king of vomitstep himself, Snails, Wynwood was as littered with trash as it was technicolor teens, all clad in paint-stained white shirts and looks that read, I’ve seen some shit today, and am more than ready to go home, shower, and return to class soon.
Accompanied by visuals reminiscent of those at Ultra, Snails brought the heat, prompting thousands of hands to hurl up before throwing down. Snails’ abrasive brand of bass and trap isn’t for everybody, but for fans, it’s a bigger, nastier, more disgusting sound than anything else being offered in bass music today. And given youth culture’s affinity for the offensive, the upsetting, and the befuddling-to-anyone-over-the-age-of-19, the aforementioned adjectives are as valuable a cultural currency as they come.
Following Snails was a brief set from rapper and pop-culture prince Jaden Smith. Opening with the track “Icon” off his debut record, Syre, Smith bounded onstage aptly prepared to match the crowd’s energy, repeatedly imploring them to “go!” and more than making up for the lack of visuals onstage. Visual accompaniment returned for Smith’s second song, “George Jeff,” and continued through the young artist’s third song, “Batman.”
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Rapper 21 Savage had been scheduled to follow Smith but was forced to cancel his headlining set. In his stead, former Holy Ship! curator and EDM figurehead Gary Richards, better known under his DJ/producer moniker Destructo, took to the decks to offer a bridge between Smith and main headliner Zedd.
Although several scantily clad attendees could be seen fleeing Mana for warmer pastures, Zedd kept the Life in Color party alive, bringing the world’s largest paint party to a colorful and melodic conclusion. Opening his set with his song “Beautiful Now,” he proceeded to work several other artists from unexpected genres into his set, including the White Stripes’ '00s rock staple “Seven Nation Army” and Fat Joe’s “All the Way Up.” Supported by vibrant, geometric-shape-based visuals, Zedd acted as his own hype man, frequently throwing his hands up to make sure revelers were having as much fun as he was.
Life in Color isn’t for everybody. It’s certainly not for neat freaks, and for older attendees, it can be jarring to see a near-empty line for the bar at a music festival. But for its core audience — those who really, really love to throw down to nausea-inducing bass sounds and apparently never get sick of the trademark “one, two, one, two, three, let’s go!” countdown that’s unavoidable at North American electronic music festivals these days — it’s as idyllic and utopian a gathering as they come, one nation under a paint cloud. And in times like these, God bless anyone who can still crack a smile.