Last Night: Scion House Party with The Juan MacLean at The Vagabond

Scion House Party with The Juan MacLean, Still Going, Induce and Jessica Who?
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Vagabond, Miami

Better than: Crouching near your heater for warmth.

People huddled at the entrance of The Vagabond Wednesday night with a sense of urgency to get inside. Maybe it was the dip in temperature or maybe it's because they were excited to see The Juan MacLean spin. I doubt it was the latter. Not because MacLean isn't any good -- in fact, he's great -- but even being a veteran musician, MacLean always seems to be the underdog in a post-electro-house world.

Unlike the Justices and MSTRKRFTs of the world, he doesn't need glowing crosses or gold-painted hockey masks to get you to pay attention. In fact, it's his subtle mixing that makes him all that more impressive.

But before the MacLean took over the decks, the Scion House Party kicked off things with local DJs Jessica Who? and Induce, which, if you've been to any club on the beach or downtown, you've probably heard them spin. Jessica, particularly, is a rarity in Miami: a female DJ that is both beautiful and actually knows what those damn knobs do.

Once Still Going's Liv Spencer took over in the backroom, the venue's management wisely shut off the soundsystem in the front and fed Spencer's set throughout the entire place, which forced patrons to move into the back if they wanted to be where the real party was happening. But I do have one greviance, Still Going is a duo and it seems like for the millionth time Miami once again only gets to see half of the show (see L.A. Riots and Designer Drugs).

Still, I won't hold anything against Spencer. His set was sexy (with an edge) without sounding cheesy or like pure Eurotrash. By the time MacLean took over, the moderately sized crowd was warmed up as coats were quickly discarded. MacLean mixed obscure house tracks with DFA staples like Hercules & Love Affair's "Blind," as well as his own body of work.

If you came looking for pump-up-your-fist action that you'll find during sets by Steve Aoki or the aforementioned Justice, you probably left sorely disappointed. It's skill and impressive track selection that sets MacLean apart from the gimmicks.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: DFA can do no wrong in my book.

Random Fact: The Juan MacLean is releasing a new album March 31.

By the Way: Scion is always holding free -- yes, completely free -- events in Miami.

Click here to view the full slideshow of the event.

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