The Australian DJ learns to walk on 'Run' tour; is definitely going to be a superstar.
Miami is not the storied clubbing mecca of New York City, and Miami is certainly not the screaming hordes of Coachella, but for all the things it is not, it still just might be the best place ever.
That's quite the declaration, but it's one blonde jumping bean Alison Wonderland didn't hesitate to make from behind the decks of downtown's Garret Loft. The cozy dance floor hideaway sits tucked above Grand Central's larger warehouse-style arena, though the intimacy proved a more perfect fit for the Australian. Just because you command a massive crowd in Indio, doesn't mean you can beat the draw of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao in some random bar 90 miles north of Cuba.
Size doesn't matter. You can be a five-foot-nothing stick-figure in a baggy Star Wars t-shirt and pack a KO sonic punch, and it only takes a hundred or so kids to turn an unseasonably-cold night into a sweat-dripping, ass-dropping memory of a lifetime.
Things were running on Miami time. Pay-per-viewers had just begun to grumble about how boring two old men hugging can be when Wonderland worked her way to the 1s and 2s. There was no stage production, no GroPro visuals. This was just DJ, her music, and some rabidly amorous fans.
Wonderland opened aptly with a remix of "The Giver." "I love you!" some girl shouted. "I'll be a good daddy!" some dude suggested. Wonderland is that special someone that makes Miami want to give it their all, and she gave in to us right back. When the crowd jumped, she jumped. When the crowd clapped, she clapped. When she said thank you, the crowd threw up their hands.
The vibe was lit from the very beginning. Her charm and her unparalleled energy is infectious. When the CDJs were shook so hard by the room's movement's and disconnected in the first twenty minutes, it did nothing to take away from the spirit of the evening.
"That's the beauty of live mixing," Wonderland joked. "I'm not even sorry and you shouldn't be either. We should move twice as hard."
People turned up as she dropped into What So Not's "Gemini." "Shout out Australian music," she said. Some kid who had been thrashing wildly for the last hour crumpled into a couch in the back. Some girl in ballet slippers scrubbed the ground with her ass. Camera phones flashed like lightning as the disco ball sent sparks all over the walls, and the whooping never subsided.
"Damn, Miami, you might be my favorite place," she said as the crowd went wild. "You're so positive, it's cool."
She led her superfans in a jump-off while giving them "U Don't Know." The last half of the set started to feel like an album release party as Wonderland worked through her shyness to let loose nearly every track on her latest 12-song release, Run. She gave us "Carry On," "Ignore," "Cold," "Already Gone," "Back It Up," "I Want U," and more before she was through.
"This one is about sex," she'd say, "this one is obviously about heart break," or "Is it okay if I play this? I haven't played it at all." She'd throw her hands out to touch the starry-eyed fans or grab the mic and yell "shout out to this guy who came from Vancouver." She didn't stop jumping in her chunky heels even to catch her breath. The only time she sat down was when she sat on top of her photographer. It was clear to everyone they were witnessing the first steps of some unstoppable star. It seems obvious that the next time she makes it down to South Florida, it may be a lot harder to cop a ticket.
She closed her set with some deep cut hip-hop favorites, a bit of Outkast here, a bit of Busta Rhymes there. As the clock struck 3 AM, both the peasants and the trap queen were reluctant to accept the creeping end.
"Yo, so that was fun," she said. "I'm just going to keep playing here, and let's get wasted here, because you guys are like, ten times better than New York. I'm just saying."
And with that, Miami fell head over heels in love. When the larger-than-life selector finally climbed down from her throne, the mob ready to touch her, take a picture, or just give a high five was mad as a hatter. People followed her like paparazzi swarms a bald Britney Spears. She kindly posed for selfies and spoke niceties before being whisked away.
The road will take her to Canada and California, then back overseas to secret locations in Australia before hitting heavy US festivals like Lollapalooza and Electric Forest. She's on a certain track to greatness, and if she can whip that dark-lit room into a Coachella-sized frenzy, there's not much that can stop her now. One day, she'll be too big to play loft spaces and use the same door as her fans, but at least we'll always have The Garret. Here's looking at you, kid.
Kat Bein is in Miami and on Twitter.