Joe Nice - Too//Future Party at Original Fat Cat's, Fort Lauderdale - August 19
The crowd responded to Nice, who gripped a small flashlight with his mouth as he shuffled through his record bag and flipped each tune onto the turntables with the deft ease of someone who's been doing this for more than a decade. An all-vinyl set of underground dubstep music -- many tracks rare and even unreleased -- isn't something you get the chance to experience very often in Fort Lauderdale or even Miami. It's special.
"I remember saving up the money to buy Prince's 1999 album," Nice told us of his early analog days. "Nobody remembers their first download, but everybody remembers their first tape or their first record that they bought."
It's true: Today's dime-a-dozen DJs often rise to popularity without taking the time to learn the history, and as Nice also pointed out, "A lot of people now, their idea of crate digging is hoping you can find a 320 of the MP3 or a WAV of the MP3, as opposed to 128- or a 192-kbps quality... You value the music more when you actually have to work for it."
As Nice went deeper and deeper into his set, it was hard to tell whether those who were dancing in front of the booth had any idea what they were actually listening to. Sure, they might have been feeling it, but something about the way they jumped around, shouted, and flailed as the beats dropped seemed a little less inspired than previous incarnations of the Too//Future night.
Nice was the cofounder of the seminal NYC dubstep party DubWar, which ran from 2005 to 2010 and earned props from the likes of the New York Times, New York Magazine, and XLR8R, and he knows a thing or two about keeping a party fresh and sustaining momentum. The success of DubWar cleared a path for Reconstrvct, his latest monthly venture in Brooklyn, which recently celebrated its second anniversary with a massive lineup and a crowd numbering close to a thousand.
So how do you keep a party fresh? "With people," he told us. "You keep it going with the right people. The people involved have a passion for what we're doing and what was done." It's clear the DJ has a deep reverence for his musical predecessors ("You gotta know your history. You just have to," he said) -- but it's also about surrounding yourself with people who are willing to put in the work. "No one's gonna give it to you." With his own online radio show, Gourmet Beats, already well-established and a record label of the same name in the pipeline, it's clear this guy is more than willing to put in the work.
Leaving Fat Cat's, the sidewalk rattled with each pulse of bass. The jerk-chicken vendor held up a sign offering free samples. A drunk man hunched on a stool asked, "Are you a cracker too?" It was 2 a.m., and some people had begun to trickle out of the bar, reminding themselves that it was Monday night and there was work in the morning.
Too Future cofounder Eric Carbonell raised an eyebrow, admitting that he's tired too. "Just wait till our Saturday night starts up," he said. It was clear he's also feeling the growing pains of his little party.
Official plans have yet to be revealed, but there's already something in the works, including a possible addition at a local warehouse space. The guys who started Too//Future have been working and living in the drum 'n' bass scene for years, and while they might not have expected a party like this to succeed as it has, Carbonell insisted, "Things finally just seem to be falling into place for us."
Rather than let all the work they've put in reach an early climax and fizzle, the Too//Future crew is jumping on that restless energy that comes whenever it's time to take the leap to the next level. The team members have pooled their funds and know-how to book a huge act for their reboot in the fall (we'll keep that a surprise for now), and there's even talk about streaming the entire show online.
There's no formula to a great party that lasts. Somewhere between music and vibe comes success, and it takes a balance of passion and work ethic to get there. Someone with Nice's background can sum it up nicely: "The one word that you consistently hear in my opinion that's involved with dubstep or people that started a movement -- it's foundation. These people before us built the foundation. It's like building a house. Be original. Be creative. Don't be like everyone else."