WMC 2012, Part V: Beachmonkey Awards

Now that the Winter Music Conference is done, we have the winners of Beachmonkey WMC Awards. The prize: media pimping in this article.

Best New Venue

This award goes to Chalk on 1234 Washington. Chalk isn’t much to look at on the outside, but step through its doors and enter a world of colors, rounded shapes, and curtains made of metal beads. The lighting really makes the place: predominantly red and blue. To the left are pool tables (hence the name), to the right is a spacious bar, and in the middle are ping-pong tables that can be removed to provide a decent-sized dance floor. The sound system is excellent. The overall effect is clean, roomy, and fun.

Chalk was the site in which DJ T from Berlin and Kim Ann Foxman performed on Tuesday March 19. Both DJs have a cult following. The crowd was on the alternative side, mostly young and ready to dance. A few days later on Sunday March 25, Chalk hosted the JustCircuit Awards, with live performances from Barbara Tucker, Peppa Mashay and Amuka as well as DJs Fierce Tease, Chris Pappas and Grind.

Kim Ann Foxman is originally from Manoa Valley in Honolulu, my current home city (I'm in Nu'uanu Valley). We talked about the music scene, the University of Hawai'i college radio station KTUH, throwing parties in Chinatown, and Kim's new direction after leaving Hercules and Love Affair.

Best Venue for Pool Party

The contestants are the Surfcomber, the National, and the Shelborne. All 3 are large venues with great staff. Surfcomber has upper decks on either side of the pool. Shelborne has plenty of space in front and behind the pool, while National has space behind the pool on the way to the ocean.

The winner is National for its fine landscaping. The pool is set in a larger garden area. The walk from the hotel to the ocean is beautiful, especially after sunset.

Best Pool Party Line-Up

This one was a tough call. It eventually came down to Surfcomber and Shelborne, and we give the award to Shelborne for consistently top-knotch artists. Not only was there a pool party line-up that drew tens of thousands of people over the week, there were also concurrent events at Shine, the indoor venue in the Shelborne lobby.

Best Dubstep/D&B Venue

Most of the clubs and hotels in SOBE featured a range of house music without drum & bass or dubstep. There were parties for D&B/dubstep DJs in Miami proper, but traffic is a real issue getting to and from South Beach, so we counted only those venues in South Beach, the actual site of WMC. This winner is the Liquor Lounge on Collins and 16th in the heart of it all.

I love the Liquor Lounge. It is neither artsy nor fashion forward, just comfortable and open, with seating both inside and outside. Its location makes it a great place for people watching. But what brought the Liquor Lounge to my attention was that, for two nights in a row, it featured talented D&B and dubstep DJs, a refreshing difference from the rest of SOBE. “This is how music SHOULD be!” exclaimed a young man during a set by DJ Legion as he and his twin brother danced with stuttered movements inspired by drum & bass rapid-fire beats.

The real treat for me was the artist that followed. DJ Drug Money was a man possessed, oblivious to the world around him as he manipulated sounds from the deepest bass on up in a manner that was both visceral and interesting.

Best Women DJs Event

So much of the electronic dance music (EDM) is fronted by male DJs, with vocals done by females, that it almost appears to be a division of labor according to sex. But there are women who have made names for themselves as DJs.

We went to 2 events with women DJs: Women Man the Decks at the Kung Fu Lounge, and Girls Gone Vinyl’s event at the Chesterfield, both on Collins. I cannot judge which was better – Women Man the Decks was deep house with American soul DJs such as Anané Vega and Nikki Afflick, while Girls Gone Vinyl was house eclectic with European talent: Karina and tiNi from Berlin and Lottie from London. Both parties were excellent, so both get the Beachmonkey Award.

Best Female DJ

Along with the aforementioned DJs, we must include Kim Ann Foxman, Ultra Naté, Priti, Jennifer Grey, Heavy Grinder and Shejay Zandy. Out of all that talent, we have two winners: Nikki Afflick and Kim Foxman, both currently out of NYC.

Best Male DJ

We heard great sets from R3hab, Sasha, Bimbo Jones, Dennis Ferrer, DJ T, David Morales, Quentin Harris, Hector Romero, Chris Cox, Black Coffee, FeU, Bob Sinclar, Fresca, Abel, Tony Moran, Ryzor, Felix da Housecat, Armin Van Helden, Culoe de Song, Brendon Boden, Fierce Tease, Grind, Chris Pappas, Legion, Drug Money, Dirty Cow, Unkle Funk and John D’Angelo,

The winners: DJ T from Berlin and Felix da Housecat from Chicago.

Best Female Vocalist

Candidates: Kelsey B, Julissa Veloz, Neon Hitch, Nadia Ali, Zaki Ibrahim, NiRé AllDai, Peppa Mashay, Laura LaRue, Amuka, Barbara Tucker.

Winners: Kelsey B and Barbara Tucker. Kelsey did an excellent job at Mova’s showcase on March 20, while Barbara tore it up with her latest hit, “Respect,” at the JustCircuit Awards on March 25.

“Respect” is climbing the Billboard dance chart. Last I heard, it was #6. What was so remarkable about Tucker's performance at Chalk was that she sang after a full week of events in which she acted as a forum coordinator, event sponsor and vocalist. A lesser artist would have been exhausted. You wouldn’t have known she'd been through such a grueling week – Barbara kicked much ass that night, as did Peppa Mashay and Amuka.

Best Male Vocalist

Eric Redd, Yovanni, Tion, Ziyon from LiquiDeep.

Winner: Ziyon, with a voice as smooth as silk during his set at the South African Invasion at Oceans 10. He and his LiquiDeep partner DJ Ryzor connected with the crowd in a way that gave the performance all the proper elements of a concert (including people singing along) and a dance party (I couldn’t stop moving). I danced side by side with Bucie, who sang along with Ziyon, a double treat for me.

Best Event

Out of the entire week, the one party not to be missed was at Shine in the Shelborne Hotel on March 23, which featured Felix da Housecat and Armin Van Helden.

Best Innovations

Paul Van Dyk had static flyers with a QR barcode that led users to a site with details on his WMC week party. It’s the first time I’d seen static flyers to advertise an event. They stuck to any flat surface without staples or leaving an adhesive, and could easily be taken off by anyone who wanted them.

Felix da Housecat’s set at Shine featured an MC on the mike who was not terrible! The MC had his own sound board, so his words were placed smoothly within the soundtrack of Felix’ song selection.

Ryzor of LiquiDeep acted as both musician and DJ as he added beats and effects while his guitarist and LiquiDeep vocalist Ziyon gave it to the crowd at Oceans 10. It was the perfect blend of live music with DJ culture, more sophisticated that anything I'd seen before.

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