Most think of Miami Art Basel as purely a visual art extravaganza, but there’s a whole other dimension that for me is as important, and potentially exciting, as the daytime fairs--f live music events. Due to working in music for over 25 years, I’m incredibly lucky to have friends that are able to sort me for pretty much any gig I want.
On the Tuesday evening that I arrived, I tagged along with Gary "writer of the ultimate guide to the week" Pini to the opening party for Ian Schrager's new hotel, The Edition. While I’m not much of one for mega parties there was enough room outside to not feel uncomfortable. I noticed there seemed to be a live singer coming over the hotel speaker system, and the voice sounded really familiar, so I set off to try to locate the source. Blood Orange had been booked as guest performer for the event but had chosen to play stage-less. Singing & playing his guitar on the ground, only the immediate 10-20 people directly in front of him could see him. What I also love about going to most of these kind of events is that the majority of the invited beautiful guests would not know the musical artists if they sat next to them at dinner. Consequently, I got to watch Blood Orange with no more than 50 others.
Wednesday night is historically Jeffrey Deitch's very exclusive invite-only party. Previous years have included such awesome guest performers as Soulwax/2manyDJs, Santigold, and, the one that I missed because I was stuck at JFK, LCD Soundsystem! Finding out that this year the performer was going to be Miley Cyrus caused me, and most of South Beach, to have a variety of reactions. While I was happy that I had the connections to get in, I really could not care less about Miley. But then as the gossip fever pitch grew during the day I figured, "when else would I ever get to rub shoulders with a bunch of the 1%, while watching one the planet's mega celebrities?"
The show was even more bizarre and surreal than I could have imagined. Visually stunning, if not over the top, she & her band played cover versions from such diverse greats as Rick James, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and (god forgive her, for she knows not what she’s done) Led Zeppelin. All were remarkably better than I expected, except for the Beatles songs, which were all duets with the way-too-high-for-the-microphone Wayne Coyne. While I was a little offended by some of the music, my sense was that most were offended by the absence of any Twerking.
Miley Cyrus, Super Freaking.
Thursday is when the “real” gigs started, with FKA Twigs being promoted to fans, not just Art Basel folks. I do love the music, but it's really her live stage presence that mesmerizes me. Sadly, unless you were up front, you cannot fully appreciate her hypnotic movements & dancing. I wish she would tour some traditional theaters, like the beautiful venue that The Chromatics played a couple of years ago, where all can see for stage. Nevertheless, in the 2000 person purpose-built tent with massive sound, the music was incredible. Some songs felt a little more fleshed-out than the album versions, even more so than the Webster Hall show a few months ago. Afterwards, the crew I was rolling around with that night, including Paul Weston, wanted to check out the the Kettle One event close by, as some of them had worked on the bit-mapping projections for the party. After Twigs this just felt like another flat corporate event, & while I'd sort of liked some of Twin Shadow’s album, hearing him live there did not make me want to revisit it.
FKA TWIGS : More phones than hands in the air.
(TV on the Radio)
As if that wasn’t enough, we were now heading to a completely sold-out-for-months James Blake show at the same venue as Twigs. I’ve been loving his music since he was known as a “dubstep" producer, releasing 12”’s on R&S, yet I’d never seen him live, so I was psyched. Same situation as Twigs really, sound was unbelievable, but most could not see the man, as he was sitting at the piano. Musically it was truly inspiring, reworking the ”hits" & live sampling/chopping his own vocals.(James Blake)