Photos: Alexia Escalante
Non-conformist Nicolas Jaar’s propensity for leaving artsy crowds quasi-confused but undoubtedly interested is a force to be reckoned with.
Unsure about seeing him live at The Mondrian Hotel, being that it isn’t exactly a stomping ground for musical acts in Miami Beach, we were pleasantly surprised by the outside space created for the event. The hotel was buzzing with Art Basel party-goers of all ages but the trend in the room was synonymous; rogue fashion.
The crowd was scattered around the venue inside and outside with no urgency to be anywhere besides by the bar drinking. But when Jaar began people slowly migrated to the giant four-post drape laden stage and the feeling became intimate, irregardless of the fact that the expansive bay was just feet away from us. The open air coupled with the starlit sky made the scene idyllic and readily set the mood for Jaar’s progressive opening sounds. Concentrated and in a seemingly improvisational mood, he barely looked up from his deck while he worked his way into “Mi Mujer,” allowing us just enough bpm’s to click our heels to. Without hesitation, he picked up the mic and asked for ‘more bass’ prompting the crowd to roar back in agreeance. His swift transitions from “Encore” to “El Bandito” made sense. Jaar’s Latin background was infused into the hints of Spanish guitar but not confined to a genre-specific sound by any means.
In continuance with his other shows, Jaar had a screen behind him with colorful projections being displayed throughout his set. The lights coupled with the depictions left you in a haze, unable to let your stare linger too long before you felt like someone put acid in your drink.
This is music you sway and bob your head to, not music you rage to but surprisingly enough, the police found a way to end the party abruptly. Not having played some of his greats like “I Got a Woman” and “Love You Gotta Lose Again” left us feeling like we’d ordered a Sherley Temple but they’d forgotten to add the cherries. It wasn’t quick and painless as Jaar sat down, bewildered, with his legs crossed waiting for something to happen. Sadly, nothing did and people began leaving.
Having worked with artists such as Scout Larue and Sasha Spielberg and remixed songs by the likes of Nina Simone, Cat Power and Matthew Dear, the diversity is clear and there’s really no telling what direction he’s headed in. To me, that’s the beauty of his art. The music industry is saturated by people who lack the creativity and desire to make a different concoction of their music, so to speak, for each unique event. This absence of preplanning every minute of his set and the constant release of new music on Jaar’s end is what makes his shows desirable and thought evoking. Nico, you did Miami a solid.