Friday morning, Julian drove me to South Beach where I checked into my hotel - the Townhouse on 20th, which is beautiful and well equipped with wireless internet access throughout the building. We went up to the Hotel Nash to register for the M3 Summit on the way to Nikki Beach. Trend #1 - good fashion - the M3 Summit bag was absolutely perfect to carry a camera, phone, buttons and whatever other accessories you needed during the day. We got to Nikki Beach about 12:15 to be there early for the 1pm show. We caught part of the sound check which was kind of interesting, seeing the performers get ready for the big show. BBC Radio One was broadcasting Pete Tong's Essential Selection live which turned out to be the perfect way to start the week, an introduction to the biggest records of the week. Audio Bullys, Spalding Rockwell, Amanda Ghost, Jimmi Dred, and Yvonne (Narcotic Thrust) all performed their respective buzz records. Trend #2 - bad fashion - Von Dutch. It was cool when DJ Irene rocked Von Dutch on the cover of her CD last year and Carson from Queer Eye drove the point home. Now that Spring Breakers are buying Von Bitch spoof shirts, its a sign to let the trend die. I wonder how much Mr. Tong was paid for the obvious product placement. Again, hearing the big records with the great live performers and strong DJ while chilling with people outside on the beach was quite a wonderful way to start the week.
That night I headed to CroBar for Timo Maas/Way Out West performing at the Hope/420 Party. The door staff was incredibly nice and courteous and quickly ushered us in. I arrived at the perfect moment right when Way Out West was about to perform. Nick and Jody were working their laptops and their new singer OMI was dead on - she sounded absolutely incredible. I never thought anyone else but Joanna Law could sing "The Gift," yet I realize now that I was mistaken. After their incredible performance, Timo took to the decks and I headed to the dancefloor. I danced and sweated until I had to get a drink. I decided to head to the bar behind the DJ booth to try and get a picture of Timo. I handed him the dancemusic.about.com button which he held up for a picture. This inspired the competition that DJ Zak Davis and I had for the rest of the week - getting as many DJs and artists to hold up the infamous button for a picture. (You can see the 4 pages of results in the gallery.)
Saturday morning, I headed down to the Wyndham to register for the Winter Music Conference proper. I was on two panel discussions and covering the event as press - yet was still required to pay full price for registration, which I thought was quite tacky. If I am going to give my time and expertise (however little it might be <grin>), a panelist discount of some sort should be given. Not wanting to push drama, I left and headed to 1st and Union for the M3 Summit address by Pete Tong.
The address was more of an interview with David Prince asking Pete about his achievements and where dance music was going next. Tong spoke quite well about the UK dance music scene and how the live act is making a comeback, the whole DJ-as-superstar thing was leaving people lacking. He mentioned several dance artists that were exciting crowds in new ways. The M3 Summit was impressive on several accounts - with big sponsors like Motorola and Technics - the air-conditioned tent provided the perfect space for networking among the electronica/international crowd. The tent was fully stocked with free Vitamin Water which was a perfect thirst quencher and had several displays set up for companies like DJIntheMix.Com and Technics who were showing off their new digital turntable. As much as I wanted to stay in the tent and interact with more seminars, I had to go to Ultra.
We drove out to Bayfront Park for the Ultra Music Festival and all I can say is wow - emotional and musical overload. The massive event had 11 different tents featuring all kinds of different music - something for everyone. I found myself just wandering around listening to 20 minutes of each area, I kept bumping into different nooks and crannies. The drum and bass arena was quite jumping as was the local favorites area.