We present the first of two columns dedicated to the island's various rip-roaring finales.
For everything you need to know about the island in 2014, take a look at our comprehensive Ibiza guide.
Music On closing at Amnesia
Music On's final bash has developed a reputation in its three-year history. Last year was so busy I couldn't even get in, but reports came through of fights in the crowd and Marco Carola fainting behind the decks. In essence, it's not a party for the faint-hearted. Arriving early to ensure entry, Amnesia felt at capacity by 2 AM. In the Terrace, Leon was doing a tidy job warming up, inflecting his groovy tech house sound with a volley of classic acappellas (Dawn Penn's "No No No," Rhythm Controll's "My House," Blaze's "My Beat"). Around 4:30 AM, half an hour later than scheduled, Carola appeared and assumed position.
By this time, the club was packed, and uncomfortably so. As people kept streaming in, dancing—let alone getting to the toilet or the bar—became increasingly difficult. As a result, the vibe inside was tetchy, with punters visibly frustrated at being constantly pushed and prodded. Musically, Carola's set played out as usual. Once the excitement of his arrival had subsided, the incessant, stripped-back slew of thumping beats and basslines quickly wore thin. Come 9 AM, a good four hours into his set, the soundtrack remained unchanged. It's hard to argue with Carola's pulling power—reportedly, the club was still heaving when doors eventually closed at 11:45 AM—but considering his experience and the wealth of music at his disposal, his DJing just felt lazy. Music On closing might have been the biggest party of the year, but it was a long way off being the best.
The Zoo Project closing at Gala Night
The streets of San Antonio felt strangely quiet last Saturday morning. Come late September, most of the workers have returned home, and it's typically something of a low period for tourists, given its proximity to the club closings. I was surprised, then, to find The Zoo Project as buzzy as usual when I arrived. In the Mandala, the party's designated chill-out zone, five-piece band Mystic Fusion were turning out trippy Indian rhythms to a rapt audience. While they played, a man performed tricks with large rings, balancing a crystal ball on his head. And then the rain came. Mild at first, it soon grew heavier. The crowds, though, didn't seem to care, welcoming the refreshing change in temperature and dancing on regardless.
At the Tree House, Giles Smith was easing into his set, treating the crowd to a seamless flow of super-smooth deep house. Every now and then he'd deviate into techier territory —Modeler's "Mint Condition," for example—though always returning to his trademark Chicago sound. Popular residents The Acid Mondays took over for the last hour, shifting gears through to beefier, more vocal-led numbers. By this point, the rain was pelting down, lending the already vibrant atmosphere an exhilarating element. The DJ booth, too, was a blur of dancing bodies, as the Scouse pair dropped Romanthony's "The Wanderer" and Junior Vasquez's "Get Your Hands Off Of My Man" to a considerable tumult of cheers. Standing there, soaked but smiling, the scene mirrored those final few moments at a festival you never want to end.
We Love... closing at Space
There was a neat, cyclical feel to the We Love... closing. Not only did the lineup capture the outfit's core musical ethos—part UK chart, part UK underground—but opening party headliners Rudimental, Skream, Paul Woolford and Ben UFO were all back on duty. This time, the latter tag-teamed with Midland, playing warm techno to an early and bustling Terrazza. Skream followed, veering off in a more stomping, vocal-heavy direction, before closing with a more progressive shade of techno. Lil' Louis' seminal "French Kiss" was the best-received of his catchy selections. Fresh from their debut Essential Mix on Radio One, Bicep latched onto Skream's quasi-epic finish and headed off in an even more dramatic direction. Blending plump basslines with heavy-duty stabs and the occasional 303, the ever-varied duo kept energy levels high.
For all their efforts, though, they couldn't help numbers in the Terrazza from dwindling. The culprits were men-of-the-moment Rudimental, who over in the Discoteca were lavishing hit after hit on the young, sweaty crowd. Taking one of the more theatrical—and impactive—approaches to DJing I'd witnessed this year, DJ Locksmith and Piers Agget clambered all over the booth, hyping up the crowd with their dance moves and sharp on-stage patter. Bending down only to flick the fader or press play, they moved through the genres with remarkable ease, dropping Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," Shy FX & UK Apachi's "Original Nuttah" and their own "Waiting All Night." Hosting festival-sized sets from Rudimental alongside the likes of Ben UFO and Midland has long been We Love...'s bread and butter. In 2014, they've executed it better than ever.
Cocoon closing at Amnesia
With Ricardo Villalobos out of the picture, and an unannounced secret guest in his place, Cocoon's 2014 finale looked set to play out somewhat differently from previous years. Unfortunately, though, the secret guest was never unveiled, reportedly forbidden by his club to perform (rumours suggest it was Solomun). Instead, the trio in the Terrace all had their sets extended, with staunch Cocooner Dorian Paic spinning roomy, percussive house and techno to lubricate the floor. As Henrik Schwarz's hour drew closer, Paic's selections darkened and became more groovy, priming the room for the imminent gear-shift. The Innervisions arist duly delivered, leading with a frenetic Afro number before slipping into his own "Walk Music" and a further hour of fiercely rhythmic techno. All the while, he rocked with furious intent.
At 4 AM, Sven Väth took over. Rather than reset the pace, he launched straight into a barrage of vigorous tech house, dropping Alan Fitzpatrick's remix of Trus'me's "I Want You" and Leon Vynehall's "Step Or Stone." The next two hours saw Väth go hell for leather, delving deep into the trippy recesses of his crates. As sunlight finally broke through he eased up, gradually reducing the intensity and working in cuts of earthy deep house and 120 BPM tribal rhythms. Traditionally, Väth doesn't play the Terrace at the closing, so you felt these forays into more chugging territory were offering a glimpse into tastes rarely exhibited. As the day wore on and the dance floor thinned, the party blossomed, pervaded by an overwhelming sense of collective bliss. Those morning hours highlighted just how special Cocoon's relationship with Amnesia really is.
ENTER. closing at Space
If there was one party guaranteed to put their all into the closing it was Richie Hawtin's ENTER. This season, the black-clad brigade have been more persistent and meticulous in their pursuit of perfection than ever before, sharpening the ENTER. ethos, while amplifying the weight of the immersive experience. For 2014's curtain call, an enviable list of techno DJs were assembled. Marcel Dettmann led the charge, opening up the Discoteca with two and a half hours of hard and fast club fare, using the metronomic kick drum as a canvas on which to apply various sonic textures. Mixing with sublime dexterity, he moved from deft melodies and atmospheric pads through to coarse synths and uplifting keys. Bicep's "NRG106" and Floorplan's "Never Grow Old" brought about particularly explosive responses.
Starting in the Terrazza as Dettmann finished was Maya Jane Coles. She too dropped Floorplan's ubiquitous smash within minutes of hitting the decks, using it to sow the seams between Nina Kraviz's previous, tougher approach and her own housier style. Over in ENTER.Mind, usually the party's quietest room by some way, Recondite was rapidly working his way through his extensive back catalogue, faced with a sizeable and lively audience. In fact, the whole club was wall-to-wall full, though rather than spoil the event (as is so often the case), it lent the occasion a certain climactic energy. Everywhere I looked people were dancing with purpose, whooping when a new track came in and whistling in adulation during the breakdowns. Nowhere was this more deafening than in the Discoteca for Hawtin. The head honcho wrapped up year three in a storm of thudding kicks and roly-poly basslines, determined that his final set be his most memorable.
Music On - David Pareja
The Zoo Project - The Zoo Project
We Love... - Nel G Photography
Cocoon - Phrank.net
VIVa Warriors - Justin Gardner
Fuse - Justin Gardner
Defected - Ryan Dinham
All others - Tasya Menaker
For more information on what's happening on the island in 2014, check out our comprehensive Ibiza guide below.
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