Lights Out Festival With Felix Da Housecat, RJD2, Felix Cartal in Miami, July 21

See also "Lights Out Festival Promises 'a Jaw-Dropping Experience.'"

Lights Out Festival

With Felix Da Housecat, RJD2, Felix Cartal, and others

Soho Studios, Miami

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Better Than: Sitting at home, playing with your finger gloves.

For their first proper party, the guys behind Dementia Events pledged to transport Miami to "a whole different world," complete with next-level lighting, big-time headliners, and VIP open bar. And they aimed to unite the hip crowds and fancy elite under one church of bass.

It was a lofty goal. And perhaps, it was a bit too much.

As is to be expected with first-time festivals, Lights Out wasn't without its hitches. Doors were scheduled to open at noon, but last-minute preparations and soundchecks pushed the party back by about two hours. So a few local openers were cut to make up for lost time.

By 2:30 p.m., though, the music was blasting. There were two stages -- one outside for local acts, and one inside Soho Studios for headliners. The place was all dolled-up with wall projections, sick lighting, and intense lasers. Yet despite this slick atmosphere and the buzz in the streets, the Lights Out dance floor never quite filled up.

As clock clicked past 4 p.m., DJ Icey hit the main stage and he brought the place down, even without a full house. His set featured a bit of everything, from electro bangers to filthy dubstep and some trap. It was a fun heavy set from start to finish.

Next, Helicopter Showdown got real grimey, keeping it hard. Then Seven Lions kept up that pace, dropping heavy drum 'n' bass and dub, working up the crowd for DJ Bl3nd.

Bl3nd is quite the showman, hitting the decks in a freaked-out, B-horror flick kind of face-mask and bright red hair. As he dropped the bass, he jumped up on the decks and raised his arms to the ravers. He sprinted out from behind the booth to shoot fans with water guns while people caught it all on their cameras.

After that wildness, it was time for Crizzly, a skinny kid from Texas, who was decidedly less show-offy. But still, he brought some serious bangers, dropping a new remix of "Chain Hang Low" with AFK, as scantily-clad dancers got all sexy on the front of the stage. And the crowd rocked out from behind a flashing LED dance floor where professional b-boys busted out fancy moves.

Lucky Date stoked the energy until the legendary RJD2 took the stage. Probably the most technically gifted of all the acts that night, RJD2 merked it on four turntables, using real vinyl as if the post-millennial computer-driven EDM explosion never happened.

In all honesty, he lost the crowd a bit by switching from heavy bass to funk, soul, and hip-hop sounds. Nevertheless, everyone who stayed to watch stood in awe of his prowess, and photographers crowded the stage to get the perfect shot.

But it was already past 11 p.m. and the Lights Out curfew of 2 a.m. was swiftly approaching. So all the headliners had their sets cut short. Before a full hour was up, RJ had to call it quits and make room for another classic name in DJing, Felix Da Housecat.

The king of electroclash rocked it with big beats and deep house, though mostly keeping things minimal. It didn't sound like 2004, even if Da Cat did drop a remix of Miss Kittin and The Hacker's "Frank Sinatra."

Closing out the night was Canadian killer Felix Cartal. He threw down with a bunch of sexy, fun electro, just like an episode of his bi-weekly show Weekend Workout. Unfortunately, Mr. Cartal was also forced to play a quick set, having gone on at 1:30 a.m., just thirty minutes before curfew. And as he was dropping a bit of Dead Prez's "Bigger Than Hip Hop," the lights went on mid-mixing and he was forced to shut it down. Them's the breaks.

All in all, though, it was an interesting experiment and a valiant effort to bring Miami something different. Mostly, the Dementia dudes did everything right, but a couple hiccups and low attendance made for a messy night.

Time will tell if Lights Out Festival comes back for another round. We had fun regardless. But when are free drinks not fun?

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: It's really a shame more people didn't come out and vibe, because the setup was definitely swank.

The Crowd: Young kids feeling the bass more than anything else.

Special Thanks: The true heroes of the evening, Sam and Justin, because y'all were mad tired, but you broke down that whole shebang anyway.

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