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WMC 2013: Holden’ It Down At Cafeina

WMC 2013: Holden’ It Down At Cafeina

The Wynwood Arts District is a special place. It is situated just northwest of Downtown Miami. This up-and-coming neighborhood is a magnet for art galleries, artists, hipsters, free thinkers and creative types. In the heart of Wynwood, every open wall is covered in graffiti murals from the biggest names in the street art business, thanks to works by Banksy, Shepard Fairey, How & Nosm, Retna, Chris Riggs, RONE, Phibs, and the list goes on and on. It’s exciting to see that a few music venues have popped up in this area, which is not normally on the map of the average WMC attendee or EDM enthusiast. One stop on every vet’s to-do list was a rare showcase by James Holden at the indoor-outdoor lounge known as Cafeina on Thursday, March 21, 2013.

The Wynwood Arts District is a special place. It is situated just northwest of Downtown Miami. This up-and-coming neighborhood is a magnet for art galleries, artists, hipsters, free thinkers and creative types. In the heart of Wynwood, every open wall is covered in graffiti murals from the biggest names in the street art business, thanks to works by Banksy, Shepard Fairey, How & Nosm, Retna, Chris Riggs, RONE, Phibs, and the list goes on and on. It’s exciting to see that a few music venues have popped up in this area, which is not normally on the map of the average WMC attendee or EDM enthusiast. One stop on every vet’s to-do list was a rare showcase by James Holden at the indoor-outdoor lounge known as Cafeina on Thursday, March 21, 2013.

The entrance to Cafeina was through a small alleyway with a wrought iron gate that opened up in to a nice-sized courtyard. It was disappointing to see that only half the courtyard was in use. Obviously, the staff did not want people sitting for a night like the one that was in store. It was time to dance underneath trees laced with psychedelic lighting. DJ Tennis of the Life and Death label opened things up nicely around 11 p.m. The crisp and deep tones of the Dynacord soundsystem were working in his favor (which explained the windows rattling at the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar a few doors down). The stacks of speakers and a DJ booth were located outside in the courtyard under the limbs of a banyan tree. The setup was outfitted with Technics 1200s, Pioneer CDJ2000s and a Pioneer DJM1000 mixer. Unfortunately, the Technics made for better drink coasters, as they sat idol all night. DJ Tennis serenaded the early crowd with deep and sexy house music. He also won the award for Best T-shirt with his neon dinosaur-clad get-up, which was both whimsical and totally fitting.

Next on the decks was John Talabot, a Barcelona-based producer and DJ. Thursday night was to be this progressive producer’s Miami debut. Right away, his style brought the vibe to darker, more shadowy techno place. He incorporated tribal drum patterns with acid house-style buildups and breakdowns. During the latter half of his set, it was great to see people showing up from the Dirtybird BBQ, Surfcomber and other major daytime parties that day. 

People in the know about EDM were definitely stoked to see James Holden. A strong contingency from local group known as The Electric Sandwich Shop (TESS) started to fill the dance floor and hand out free pins and swag to visitors. 

Holden entered the intimate venue around 1:30 a.m. with warm greetings from every direction. The Technics were taken off the DJ booth and Holden began setting up his own gear. He brought his own custom CDJs and laptop – they were nothing like I had ever seen. They looked almost military-grade and very minimal. And, I’m not talking Pioneer and MacBook Pro here. They were most definitely custom-made and likely from his home studio. Holden was also was using and Traktor Kontrol X1 by Native Instruments. Talabot finished his set with some 808 style, hip-hop infused breakbeats, which proved to be very danceable by the crowd.

At 2 a.m., Holden took control of the graffiti-covered courtyard. He opened with a very strange and twisted melodic build-up that had no beat to it, the type of experimental and psychedelic tone that Holden is known for, which confirmed there are still some cutting-edge and abstract melodies lingering in the EDM scene. All to often, EDM sets seem to follow a common template. But, thankfully, Holden was anything but the norm. The music smoothly transitioned into a more organic and tribal house style, even a bit tropical; Holden’s ode to Miami, perhaps. Soon to follow was a vintage ‘80s electro tune that could have been on the soundtrack to Miami Vice. Holden was mastering the effects processor located directly on his turntable with wild pitch changes, filters and flanger effects. Some breakbeats followed next, and Holden’s delivery truly touched upon all genres of EDM, all the while maintaining his abstract and twisted signature sound.

Between Holden’s 128-BPM dark techno al fresco, and Nightdrive Miami’s fourth anniversary celebration with soulful disco inside, there was a well-rounded offering of tunes. But, as Holden wrapped up, fanatics wanted to continue riding his wave, already in search of other late-night gigs to keep the flow going strong in Wynwood and beyond.

Photos by Melodysiac © 2013

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victor

March 28th, 2013

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