Jamie xx & Four Tet: A Highlight of Art Basel in Miami
By Eytan Eilender • Photos by Jason Koerner
The city of Miami really heats up during the Fall, when it comes to music and art. Between iii Points Music/Art/Tech Festival in October, and Art Basel in early December, people come from all over the world to experience the crackling culture that is vibrantly bursting at the seams across the streets of Miami. The art galleries, music venues, clubs, gastropubs, micro-breweries, and pretty much anywhere you can think of, are bustling with people of all types, who are there to soak up the magical experience.
This year iii Points once again put on their signature ‘Art Basel Concert Series’ which included ‘Life & Death Art Basel Edition’ on Thursday December 3rd, Jamie xx & Four Tet on Friday December 4th, and A$AP Rocky with Kaytranada on Saturday December 5th. All three events in the iii Points Art Basel Concert Series occurred at Mana Wynwood, which is the mammoth art space where the iii Points Festival is held. The result was nothing short of marvelous.
The headliners of the iii Points Art Basel Concert Series were Jamie xx & Four Tet on Friday night of Art Basel. Locals and tourists alike were buzzing around Wynwood prior, at places like Wood Tavern and Wynwood Walls, basking in all of the glorious street art and the vibe that surrounded. People knew this was going to be a late event, so it gave everyone time to really enjoy the area beforehand. Because, once you entered Mana Wynwood you knew you were going to be there till the wee hours of the morning.
The Jamie xx & Four Tet show was a party which was curated by ‘Young Turks’ record label. ‘Young Turks’ is a prominent indie record label out of London which houses artists such as ‘The xx’, ‘FKA Twigs’, ‘Jamie xx’, ‘SBTRKT’, ‘Holy Fuck’, ‘Wavves’, ‘Sampha’, and many more. Four Tet has also collaborated with ‘Jamie xx’ numerous times, and has been on the bill for many of the ‘Young Turks’ curated parties. In 2009, ‘Young Turks’ released the debut album by ‘The xx’ entitled “xx”, which has sold over a million copies. The album broke ground in the indie dream-pop genre, with a very unique hauntingly beautiful vibe, especially due to the chilling male-female vocal combo. ‘The xx’ are incredible, and have profoundly affected many people with their music. Jamie Smith, also known as ‘Jamie xx’ is responsible for production, electronics, keyboards, and percussion. He has also had quite a bit of success as a solo artist lately. His debut album ‘In Colour’ is on pretty much every publication’s list of 2015’s Top Albums. He has been turning heads and gaining acclaim all over with his live peformances. Everyone knew that with a bill like ‘Jamie xx & Four Tet’, that they were in for a remarkable treat.
‘Sampha’ of the ‘Young Turks’ record label made a surprise appearance which was announced the day of the event. He came on around 11pm and threw down a sweet set which really warmed us all up for what was about to come. Jamie xx took the stage close to 1am, and he commanded it from the get go. That man has some magnetic stage presence, especially for a solo electronic live music production. Early on he mixed in the Little Dragon track ‘Crystalfilm’, which is such an extremely dreamy and sexy song, that it set the tone for a set which flowed like butter and had everyone in a hypnotic trance. He also mixed in numerous songs from his album ‘In Colour’, including the opening track ‘Gosh’ and the main single ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ which features Young Thug & Popcaan.
The light show encapsulating Jamie xx, and soaring throughout the venue, was absolutely out of this world. The production was high level, and the moods evoked were mesmerizingly in synch with the music. Between the musical and light production combined, the entire crowd was transported to another space of beautiful bliss. Jamie xx was an absolute wizard up there, mixing classic vinyl, and creating full soundscapes which ranged from hip hop to house, trip hop to dream-pop, and gospel to jazzy breaks. The entire experience was ethereal, and left everyone speechless. He exited the stage to a massive applause of people who realized how privileged they were to have just witnessed that phenomenal set by Jamie xx. Smiles were abounding as we waited for ‘Four Tet’ to take the stage.
‘Four Tet’ is the brainchild of electronic musician Kieran Hebden from London, England. He came on the scene in 1998, so he is a seasoned veteran. He was a pioneer of his own genre of music, which abandoned the traditional formats and took a much more abstract approach. The jazzy swirling breaks he introduced were so fresh and well received from the start. His overall sound for most of his career has incorporated different elements of post rock, hip hop, trip hop, folktronica, dub, grime, and jazz, with live instrumentation. Lately, he has been more heavily influenced by House music. Four Tet gained more notoriety when he opened for Radiohead on their 2003 Tour. Now, twelve years later, he is still owning dance floors across the world. His most recent release in July 2015 was called ‘Morning/Evening’, and is comprised of two tracks which total 40 minutes called ‘Morning’ and ‘Evening’. This type of out of the box experimental approach is what Four Tet is known and admired for.
The set which Four Tet played at Mana Wynwood as part of the iii Points Art Basel Concert Series headlining event, was certainly impressive. However, it suffered a bit because Jamie xx was such a hard act to follow. While Four Tet may have brought a bunch of different styles of grooves to the table throughout his set, it was still more of a typical late night DJ set type of feeling. Jamie xx was a full on all encompassing show of incredible proportions which you really felt immersed and lost in. Four Tet brought some of his old school sound with him in the form of jazzy breaks and folktronica, but he really put a lot of focus on House music. Also, there was a period during the set in which he basically fell into a dub hole. Nearly 20 minutes went by and he had still been stuck in the same style of dubtronica, at the same tempo. The crowd was definitely ready for a twist and turn, which finally ended up happening, but after he had somewhat lost our attention for a little. Four Tet then dove into some real psychedelic pulsing rhythms and melodies, and got people moving nicely. All in all, his set was definitely very good, but it felt like he was stuck in one genre until he moved to another, and then stuck in that genre until he moved to the next, and so on. Whereas Jamie xx had a seamless amalgam of musical genres which flowed together wonderfully, and had far more power and presence. Still, the pioneer and veteran Kieran Hebden, aka ‘Four Tet’ showed why he has been able to stay relevant in the music industry for nearly two decades. He finished up his set well past 4am, and we all shuffled back out onto the streets of Wynwood in a delicious daze.
Art Basel is such a special multiple day onslaught of the top artistic and musical talent from around the world. It began in 2002, happens every year in December, and is considered the winter reunion for the international art world. Art Basel has really helped to put Miami on the map, especially over the past five years or so. The iii Points organization should feel very proud, not just for the festival they put on each October, but also for the Annual Art Basel Concert Series which they continue to put together with great success. Jamie xx & Four Tet at Mana Wynwood was an absolute highlight of Art Basel weekend. Here’s to hoping that iii Points continues to bring the heat each year with their Art Basel Concert Series, and that their festival flourishes for years to come as well. Long live Art Basel, iii Points, and the Miami Renaissance!!