It’s a balmy Miami afternoon. Downtown, thousands upon thousands of ravers converge on Bayfront Park for Day 2 of Ultra Music Festival, decked out in neon tanks homemade costumes, and sleeves of kandi for trading. But I am on a different course. I’m stuck in traffic downtown, waiting for the drawbridge to close so I can head to Cafeina, for the first ever Anjunadeep Party in Miami.
With the steady rise of deep house, it came as no surprise that the label would have its own party; in the past few months its artists have gotten massive recognition, including Dusky, the surprise guest announced only a few hours before the show began. And unlike other artists and record labels that held pool parties in the heart of South Beach, I found myself in the quiet Wynwood district inside the high ivy dripped walls of an art gallery.
While DJ booths are typically adorned with massive LED screens or projectors, a colorful mural by Juan Diaz covered the wall behind the DJ booth, creating a vibrant backdrop for the day’s artists. James Grant welcomed guests with a 2 hour set, setting the tone with plenty of laidback tracks perfect for a hazy Saturday afternoon. Once the crowd began to grow he sprinkled in more familiar tracks, like Shadow Child’s Remix of Daughter’s cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” This livened up the group and set the stage for Kidnap Kid. I’m still certain that the thunder sampled in his latest track “Stronger” was a clear foreshadowing for the ominous weather, but was ignored the further he pulled us in.
The most impressive feat of the day wasn’t even a specific set; it was the crowd. Fans didn’t stand in front of the booth to record entire sets on their phones or become rowdy; in fact many created new friends on the dance floor, rarely leaving to grab another drink or take a break. This casual atmosphere allowed many DJs to hide in plain sight like Moonboots. Rather than stay behind booth they walked freely through the party, only occasionally being stopped for pictures with fans. Many Anjunabeats artists performing the next day showed up to support like Ilan Bluestone and Mat Zo, a custom tradition in the Anjunaverse.
While there is constant criticism that deep house is boring, that all the tracks sound the same and have similar formulas, each artist on the lineup brought a completely different style to the table. Dusky’s set included bouncy vocal tracks that can go over well both in big clubs like Output or someone’s backyard BBQ (see “Nobody Else”) Manik has more a Nu Disco influence, which made it physically impossible to stay still during his set. Lancelot has this same energy, and massive kudos to whoever decided to put these two back to back. The Aussie disproved the idea that the best deep house comes out of England or New York, as his “Givin it Up” EP has had massive airplay since its release, especially the titular track that was remixed by the legendary MK.
T. Williams pulls on his Hip-hop roots, using the basslines to push a much grimier agenda like Dansson & Marlon Hoffstadt – Shake That. It was a perfect transition from not only day to night, but also to Beckwith. The “Anandia EP” has been another hit for Anjunadeep, maybe it was too powerful, as heavy wind and rains hit the party. Still, Beckwith and closer Matt Lange played on like true professionals while some took refuge inside the art gallery, while others braved the storm to hold a tarp over the decks so that the party could run its course.
Overall, it’s safe to say the first installment of Anjunadeep in Miami was a massive success. An excellent location, great vibes, and most importantly great music are winning combo for future WMC parties.