Maceo Plex version 2019
My first time witnessing Maceo Plex was in London at SW4 in 2015. It was Solomun, then Dubfire, then Maceo Plex. I could not leave that tent.
I was with my best friend, another Space cadet I had met six years prior. After dancing hard to Solomun, we stayed in the tent because the feeling was too good. We didn’t even know who the DJ was for the next two hours. (Usually a name flashes somewhere.) And at the end of the flashing white board set, Dubfire was revealed. It was his Hybrid showcase. I was in awe, no doubt gripping the sides of my head, running my fingers through my hair, mouth gaping open, saying, “Wow.” Then the side boards light up again with graphics you expect to see. They say, “Maceo Plex.” And although I can’t remember the specifics of the set, I know my best friend and I stayed when a lot of people left. Some might have taken that as a cue to leave too, but for us, we spread out. We weren’t leaving. Located front left, by the speakers, I was entranced by the sounds. And a warp hole came over the next two hours, that rainy evening on Clapham Common Grounds.
Four years later, Maceo Plex is still a conjurer of sorts, just now with more notoriety.
I was reminded of his powers to enchant last year at Ultra’s 20th anniversary. The set was passionate. He ended it counter-intuitively on the softest note in the Carl Cox tent with this song, which left goosebumps on my arms. This approach was very different from his Art Basel set a few months prior, where he drilled techno in a Wynwood warehouse. The scene was too dark and too late for me to bite into. So Ultra 20 really woke me back up to his capabilities.
The spell he casted at Space on Sunday wasn’t so unlike his Ultra set ten months ago, but he wove together a wider hodgepodge of sounds for this six-hour set. It was patchwork in a form unlike anything I have previously seen him do. He played techno, disco, old shit, new shit. The build was slow, over an hour of temperate beats. I wasn’t too sure where he was going. But once he played Donna Summer’s, “I Feel Love,” I think the crowd knew, almost in unison, that we were in it to win it.
Looking back, I believe a good chunk of songs were on the slower side, which is ironic as it didn’t take away our inclination to dance.
Now it’s interesting to note that the golden hour has always been between 6 and 7a, maybe up until 8a. But I’ve noticed that these guys come on and get even better past 9am. This was true for Capriati two months ago, Victor Calderon last weekend, and Maceo Plex this weekend.
I think an all-time favorite moment was past the 9am mark when he dropped, “Spin, Spin Sugar,” leaving us for 10 minutes singing the same words in some kind of crazed, caged animal high. It was pretty incredible. Then the song afterwards was just very…normal? My new friend joked that [Maceo] knew exactly what he was doing, that he took us to another planet. I joked that he dropped us off on another planet. He left us…but he’ll be back later to pick us up.
Now the dance floor was packed up until 11am, and I should have known the place would be littered late because for the first time, in a long time, I saw people just hanging out downstairs when I arrived at 4:20a, ironically the same time Eric Estornel, aka Maceo Plex, arrived. Is the ESP between me and my DJs that strong? Ha, perhaps. Anyways, kudos to you if you scored a VIP band because VIP was about the only place you could bust a move on the terrace for five out of six hours that he played.
Outside of the music, it was straight-up, just a party. Everyone showed up. The brat pack of promoters who have been here since 2012 were a bunch of looney tunes in the techno loft. They made me laugh. And people in general were just friendly (well in VIP, that I know of). The more I go, the more friendly faces I meet.
Needless to say, if you did not see Maceo Plex, it was a major fail on your part! I’m not left with a particular high days later like I was with Joseph Capriati’s set in November, but I am imprinted with the mark of Maceo’s dance-magic doings. He put us in an unsuspecting trance. It snuck up on us! And ultimately he delivered what we could not expect. How did we respond? Well, we took advantage of him! Haha I don’t think he could believe we were staying as late as we were. He would get on the mic and say, “What the fuck?” That morning for everyone who joined will be remembered.
SPIN, SPIN, SUGAR.