Modern Love: A Live Audio-Visual Experience
With Andy Stott, Demdike Stare, and Millie & Andrea
Presented by SAFE, Klangbox.FM, Wynwood Arts District Association, Miami Light Project, and Beck's Access
Light Box at Goldman Warehouse
Saturday, September 20, 2014
It's easy to scoff at dance music for being nothing more than a few bleeps and bloops. A genre where the acts amount only to button-pushers.
Modern Love, the 12-year-old Manchester record label, isn't that.
After a first listen to any of the label's releases, you might ask yourself, "Where is this going? Where is the drop?" And we'll have to call on every fiber of our being not to hit you.
If we can blame EDM for anything, it's a lack of patience for artists who take their time behind the decks. And Modern Love's releases might be the ultimate test of one's patience.
Perhaps in consideration of that fact, Miami's SAFE and Klangbox.FM made the decision to stage the Modern Love showcase outside of conventional club environs, instead placing it at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, a space often used for experimental theater and performance art.
This was probably a smart choice, because it seemed to change what the audience was anticipating from the show. In a nightclub, the crowd may expect to be dancing all night long. But when we entered the Light Box, we weren't sure what awaited. Except that it could be anything. And that seemed pretty exciting.
See also: EDM's Five Greatest Delusions
Everyone kept it chill and some even took a seat during Sean Canty's opening set. Not that they weren't entertained, but all spectators seemed to wonder if the vast open space would be used for the live audio-visual experience that'd been billed. (It wasn't, but we'll get to that later.)
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Canty's set was accompanied by no live visuals whatsoever, and it was definitely the most experimental set of the night, featuring pockets of white noise and even grunting. It's a set that probably would have never worked in a traditional nightclub -- but we weren't in one, so who cares? It was richly textured and interesting. So much so, that we were reluctant to pull away for a beer at the bar outside for fear we'd miss something revelatory.
Demdike Stare followed. And so did the visuals.
This duo of Canty and Miles Whittaker frantically moved around behind the decks, obviously working hard and not just pressing play. And if you are vaguely familiar with Demdike Stare's music videos, you should be able to conjure a mental image of what the visuals looked like: lots of seemingly found footage of gorgeous ladies and oddities from the '60s and '70s .
The set was also more danceable than Canty's, which seemed as though it was something that was done purposefully, since each subsequent set throughout the evening was more clubby than the last.
However, it wasn't until about 20 minutes into Demdike Stare's set that someone realized the open space in front of the deck was actually meant for dancing and/or standing. Once one person got up, though, the whole room was on its feet within a minute.
Last up, Miles Whittaker and Andy Stott closed out the final two hours with their side project, Millie & Andrea, as speakers crackled with warmth and the audience swayed along to the playful beats. By 1 a.m., it was over.
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Modern Love's live audio-visual experience was easily one of the best techno events that we've been to in a while. And with a 200-person max capacity, the party was kept very intimate and -- oddly enough, considering its experimental nature -- approachable.
It's often hard to feel like you're connecting to the music when crammed into a massive warehouse full of thousands of people. (Some think the opposite, though.) But the cozy, semi-secret setting had each and every of the night's spectators feeling like the Modern Love acts were playing just for us.
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