Trial and error is necessary and just like with anything in life, it’s the little failures peppered amongst great successes that build something truly special. Any of the thousands of dance music fans in Los Angeles and beyond who are familiar with Underrated Presents and their Minimal Effort brand know just how big of a leap they took this past Saturday when they expanded their Halloween production from within an indoor venue facility to a hybrid indoor/outdoor festival featuring three stages, 10 hours of music and 24 different artists.
The move didn’t come without a few hiccups, of course, but when all was said and done, Los Angeles welcomed its first festival-scale electronic music production in years, and the first to solely focus on the more underground sounds of house and techno. It wasn’t since HARD and Insomniac left the city that crowds in LA hadn’t been able to enjoy an event of this kind with promises of more in the pipeline. In fact, flyers posted throughout the Los Angeles Center Studios, Minimal Effort’s new home, already announced an exciting first phase lineup for the upcoming NYE event that will take place at the same location and with a similar structure.
The choice of location couldn’t have been more ideal, a multipurpose facility in the former Unocal Center building next to the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles that provided ample space for two outdoor stages, an indoor room, food trucks and rest areas with grass and tables. The area was easy to reach with public transportation, by foot from anywhere downtown and via cab/uber.
Entry was smooth, with hardly any wait and no hassles at security. Similarly, despite a good sized crowd wait times for drinks, bathrooms or food were minimal throughout the night. The music was spread out between The Garden and The Bridge stages outside, and the smaller Suara Room inside. The Garden stage unfortunately opened late due to technical difficulties that were being resolved to host Tiga’s Los Angeles Live show debut during the closing slot of the night. But when it got going it welcomed thousands who partied to the sounds of Waze & Odyssey, Kidnap Kid, Tensnake and TEED before Tiga took over. Under the canopy of the overhanging tree branches, the smaller of the two outdoor stages hosted the more eclectic roster of night, catering to those in search of a more pop-driven, bass-heavy and vocal experience.
Unfortunately The Bridge Stage, considered by some as the “main stage” due to size and caliber of names performing, suffered from sound issues throughout the night. Volume had to be kept low to ensure sound quality didn’t suffer due to what was probably a blown speaker or two. Regardless, sets by Jonas Rathsman, Steve Bug and Pete Tong kept the party going until it was Thugfucker’s turn to close out the party with their signature blend of rhythmic and groovy tech house filled with big hooks, heavy synth lines and permeating melancholy.
Interestingly enough, it was in the smaller room that the party seemed to be going at its hardest throughout the night. The Suara Room may have been modest and it was surely a hot box, but it definitely hosted set after set of powerfully-crafted performances, seamlessly blending into one as Edu Imbernon gave way to label head-honcho Coyu before Dosem took the reigns for a final hurrah. While at first it seemed that the room had the least love as far as production value, it gave attendees the most when it came to sheer quality of music, cohesiveness and the frenzied type of party you would expect at a Halloween affair with this kind of lineup. The three closing artists delivered Spanish tech house at its finest with elements of techno, EMB and house sprayed in to beautiful results: the entire room danced as one and didn’t stop moving until the night was over at 2am.
Yes 2am. Minimal Effort’s relocation to the Los Angeles Center Studios meant that the party ended when alcohol stopped being served, but it also allowed for trips to one of several warehouse/after-parties going on in Los Angeles that night. The same will surely be true on New Year’s Eve, when party-goers will look to continue celebrating into the early hours of the morning.
Overall, the brand’s relocation and debut as a one-day festival was a good experience. Not perfect by any means but it cemented the notion that Los Angeles’ love for underground dance music is growing and has room for improvement and expansion in the near future. I had the chance to speak to the brains behind Minimal Effort in the days since and they were undoubtedly aware of the few production issues that came up during the night, apologetically promising that they would be worked on ahead of their return for round two on December 31st.
Click here for Minimal Effort NYE lineup announcement.