Saturday night during Art Basel weekend seemed to be the most competitive night out of the entire event, stacking a slew of great events across the city of Miami. Day parties, night parties, art galleries that ran all day and night, you name it. A few weeks before Art Basel, the New York City-based venue Verboten announced an edition of its outdoor concert series StageONE was in fact making its Miami debut on Saturday of Art Basel weekend. A few weeks later, the lineup was revealed: Art Department, a rare U.S. show from Black Coffee, Matthew Dear, and more.
As the event drew nearer, concerns over the inclement weather during Art Basel were addressed to the outdoor pop-up party scheduled to take place in Wynwood. On the day of the show, Verboten announced StageONE was forced to change: it would no longer run from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., and would instead be moved inside the Heart Nightclub downtown and run ‘til early in the morning. Many people hoping to attend StageONE and another late-night show voiced complaints, but that didn’t stop the inaugural Miami edition of StageONE from being one of the definitive Art Basel parties all weekend.
The event started shortly before the original event was scheduled to end, a poetic choice made by the Verboten organizers. True to the spirit of Miami, the schedule gave each artist two hours to perform, scheduled to start from late at night to past the break of dawn. Heart Nightclub recently opened in Miami, but StageONE made a very strong case for the club’s future within the city’s often aggressive nightlife scene. Inside, the brightly lit Verboten logo provided a banner for the DJ booth, an intimate space only barely separating performers from attendees. Despite the event change-up, plenty of attendees flocked to Heart during the peak of the night at midnight.
Matthew Dear, founder of the Ghostly International record label, played from midnight to 2 a.m., and showcased a set of hard-hitting techno tunes unlike the tracks heard from Ghostly artists like Tycho and Gold Panda. He raised the energy level gradually during the set, a welcome choice given the many hours following his set. The crowd, full of reciprocating dancers, ate up his song selection like candy.
Our most hyped set of the night followed: the South African-based Black Coffee delivered a groovy, almost tribal two-hour set. The DJ and producer represents one of Africa’s most widely recognized artists, and his fame has just started to heat up in the United States. Complete with drum beats, rhythmic grooves, and choice remixes of hit EDM tracks such as “Show Me Love” by Robin S, Black Coffee earned plenty of new fans during his set and cemented his legendary status among his diehard fanbase.
The headliner of the night, Art Department, performed toward the end of the event from 4 to 6 a.m., but that did not stop member Jonny White from spinning a relentless mix of tech house tracks and psychedelic vocal samples. Art Department became a single member effort after Kenny Glasglow left this year, but White still epitomized everything great about the group across his two hour set.
The event continued well into the morning, but we called it a night shortly after Art Department finished. Verboten continues to make national headlines with its events, and we sincerely hope they plan to bring the StageONE concert series back to Miami in the near future. Perhaps during Miami Music Week? Despite some interference from Mother Nature, Verboten adapted the StageONE format and organized an exceptional event. We cannot wait to see what’s next.