It’s been almost a full week since we said our goodbyes to the year 2016. The end of the year is an odd time for many people. The joys or blues of the holiday season have left their mark, on our hearts… and wallets. Snapchat has a newsfeed dedicated to New Year’s proposals. I have no idea what days I’m supposed to take off for work (NYE is Saturday, so shouldn’t I get Friday off too? Sounds right to me). Before I knew it, it was December 31st, the final day of the year. Time for me to hit the road to LA to join the techno and house fans that were already making their way to Minimal Effort NYE.
As I mentioned in my preview editorial, the lineup pleasantly surprised me this time around with some unexpected genres and artists. I thought the selection was a good move on Minimal Effort’s part — not only did it attract a wider audience, but it gave artists that might not typically fit in with a club lineup a chance to take the stage with one of LA’s rising large-scale events. I was also really glad to see a significant number of local acts on the lineup, which is something that EDMLA advocates for.
Dedicated to the funky side of Minimal Effort, the top floor of the theater hosted the Space Yacht stage. It was only appropriate that Space Yacht co-founder LondonBridge performed here, alongside acts such as Ryan Collins, Amtrac, and Sacha Robotti. Deep house, G house, and bass music fans would have been right at home. The basement mainly showcased the Desert Hearts Crew, in addition to &Me, and UK’s experimental house veterans, Simian Mobile Disco, who are known for their analog production techniques. I wasn’t able to spend too much time in the basement due to capacity, but it seemed to have a bit more of that authentic, underground feel.
I was particularly excited to see an increase in the number of live performances this time around. It seems that in general, dance events have been adding more live acts to their lineups — a trend that I hope continues. At Minimal Effort we caught live performances from Recondite, Stephan Bodzin, Audion, and Nicola Cruz. It’s always interesting to see the innovative ways electronic music DJs and producers put on live shows, and I think that in the future, it’s something that all artists will need to at least consider to help set themselves apart from “press play” DJs. While other live electronic acts may include electronic percussion or a live band, the live acts at Minimal Effort showcased another type of live performance. These artists hit the event with some live techno through a complex system of sound equipment which allowed them to have almost full control over what came through the speakers. This sort of extremely progressive techno is something I don’t see so often, and the skill required to do this well is sometimes overlooked. To the average person, especially someone who is not a fan of this sort of music, it may seem like they are simply using a turntable like any other DJ. In reality, a deep understanding of the technology and general musical proficiency are used to essentially conduct a live electronic orchestra.
Immediately upon arrival, I noticed just how crowded the event was. The Globe Theater has your standard theater layout with a main stage and floor space on the ground level; a mezzanine level above, housing a second stage and bar; and the basement level, which provided the third stage area. With long lines to the bathrooms and smoking area, it was apparent that the space wasn’t intended to accommodate so many people. Some speculated that they were aggressive with ticket sales and oversold, but a bit of digging will reveal that the original plan for the event listed LA Center Studios as the venue — the same which held Minimal Effort’s Halloween. A friend of mine confirmed that LA Center Studios was listed at the original venue at the time ticket sales began and Minimal Effort had released a statement confirming the venue change at the root of the capacity issue. I’m going to give a pass on this one, as unforeseen circumstances can be difficult to adapt to, particularly during a major holiday such as NYE.
Despite the roadblock, Minimal Effort attendees made the most of their holiday celebration. While I was outside in an alleyway which was converted into the smoking section, a fellow attendee pointed out that while the place was packed, the people were respectful and reasonable about the space issue. After thinking back on it I realized that he was right. Although the line for the women’s restroom went up two flights of stairs, I didn’t see a single person try to cut. And even though most people were forced to crowd each other’s space, I didn’t see a single fight or confrontation occur. I would infer that was at least partially due to the Minimal Effort aesthetic and music selection, which seems to attract a more mature and sophisticated crowd. Maybe everyone’s New Year’s excitement kept them distracted, or maybe getting older really does have its perks!
I spent the New Years countdown on the main level with Matthew Dear, who played as his alter-ego Audion. Once the countdown was up on the monitor, the energy of the room was incredible. You could feel the excitement from everyone anxiously waiting to say goodbye forever to 2016! I’ve only ever been to three New Years events, and I have to say, starting the New Year off surrounded by like-minded people listening to great music is really special. As the timer struck “0” and the crowd roared with “Happy New Year!”, groups of friends hugged each other, couples gave each other their New Year’s kiss, and everyone danced harder than ever!
To me, usually the concept of New Year’s seems rather arbitrary. With the calendar year being the only thing that really changes, I am typically not one to put a lot of emphasis on this particular holiday. However, given the difficulties of 2016, midnight on January 1, 2017 truly felt like a fresh start. The end of the year provides a space to honor the accomplishments, good times, loses, challenges and lessons of the past year. I realized that sometimes, we just need an abstract timeline to help us reset ourselves. Sometimes, we simply need a cause for celebration during difficult times. Whatever it is that you hoped to get out of NYE, I hope it was as memorable as mine!
Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2017 will be your best year yet, and we look forward to the moments that are sure to come in the following twelve months.
– Lisa Espi for EDMLA