When I interviewed Wolf + Lamb two years ago this question came up: What exactly is a label roster? Originally, Gadi told me, they thought their troupe was like an army. Then as things grew, he said, it was clear that it had become a family. If their latest night at the Electric Pickle proved anything, however, it was that these days you might think Wolf + Lamb was just as much a baseball team with each member playing his position in a group formation, working towards a common end. A baseball team, or in the case of the Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap DJ Kicks, tag-team wrestlers. (See the promo photos for the event and the album's liner notes, where the pair of duos spar in friendly rivalry, lit in a shock of LaChappelle-esque surreality.)
With its extensive wood paneling and relaxed vibe, it's little wonder that the Pickle has become a second home to Wolf + Lamb. As such, their contribution to Miami's week of partying felt like a natural extension of the group's own Marcy Hotel in New York. While Soul Clap kicked things off downstairs with a trademark '90s throwback set, Jules from Voices of Black played a solid set in the main room as folks trickled in. The bulk of the night reflected the label's tight, fraternal cohesiveness—they clearly feel at ease with one another, and the decks seem to be worked with a kind of round-robin informality.
The success of the evening demonstrated why the Wolf + Lambers like to seek out smaller venues—their sound is increasingly melodic and intimate, and they seem to prefer tailoring a party to their beats rather than vice versa. If the crowd is tuned into what you're doing, it's an opportunity to take things deeper. Amongst an evening of great sets, Tanner Ross stood out with an impressive live set of his own material, exemplifying that very idea. It's a clear sign that people are feeling it if you can work the room with a track as chilled out and bare as his "Goodbye, Summer" cut, which relies on a seductive push and pull between down-tempo funk and ambient breakdowns.
No Regular Play provided the night's other highlight. The duo's live set was confident and organic: Greg Paulus's jazz licks are nimble and careful, at times with a drawn-out Sketches of Spain feel. It kind of makes you wonder why there aren't more trumpet players in deep house these days—although it was nice to see Paulus in demand during the week, occasionally emerging during other people's sets for the sake of a few soulful flourishes. With John Roberts' Sunday School: The Lost Weekend performance neatly jury-rigging the intelligent deep house he's crafted on his releases for a wasted crowd dancing in the Miami sun, and Paulus and Nick DeBruyn's polished and inventive set in mind, it'd be fair to say that in Miami this year it was live sets that stole the show.