Wednesday Night: The Juan MacLean at LIV

The Juan MacLean with The Field
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
LIV, Miami Beach

Better than: Ninety-nine percent of the acts to have performed at LIV.

Miami, you are hopeless and a disgrace. I never felt so embarrassed to call myself a resident of the 305 as I did on Wednesday night. You had in front on you perhaps one of the best electronic acts right now and all you gave was lukewarm applause. Oh, but when Ross One dropped "I'm in Miami, Bitch" you went absolutely apeshit.

So why didn't the Juan MacLean have the crowd eating out of his hand? Well, being booked at LIV could have been part of the problem because it sure wasn't for lack of trying. MacLean himself immersed himself in his performance, playing the theremin like his life depended on it, while Nancy Whang's vocals rested beautifully atop the sonic environment created by the three men surrounding her.

The Juan MacLean went through their extensive catalog of dance punk/nu-disco/progressive house hits like "Tito's Way," "Happy House" and "Give Me Every Little Thing." And of course there was material from the band's newest release, The Future Will Come, including "One Day" and "No Time," which oddly sounds like its sampling Mylo's "Drop the Pressure."

The band was in no rush get to the climatic point of the set, taking its time to build up the momentum. That's probably why the crowd -- consisting mostly of South Beach regulars and tourists more interested in bottle service than the music -- never seemed to get into it. When the set had finally reached its climax, LIV's amazing lighting system started to show why its perhaps one of the club's most talked-about features. When it's in full gear it almost feels like the room is moving, and even Whang herself seemed mystified by what was happening.

The opener, Swedish minimalist techno producer Axel Willner, better known as The Field, didn't exactly have the crowd in a trance either. His ambient sounds served more as background music for LIV patrons, which is a shame. His latest album, Yesterday and Today, is a six-track electronic landscape that is probably one of the most sonically rich works I've heard in a while.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: James Murphy and his DFA posse can do no wrong in my book.

Random Detail: Some guy jumped on stage to do the most awkward hipster dance I've ever seen. LIV's bouncers, being the wet blankets they are, quickly put an end to that.

By the Way: Miami's own Lazaro Casanova did a DFA-sanctioned remixes of The Juan MacLean's "Happy House" and "One Day."

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran