With plenty of New Year’s Eve party options to choose from in LA, local promoters Underrated Presents aimed to deliver big with the second edition of their Minimal Effort NYE production.
Strong off of a successful Halloween shindig at the Belasco Theater, Underrated returned to the downtown venue this past Thursday with a massive line-up spread across four distinctly different rooms.
Location, Accessibility, Set-up
The Belasco is smack in the middle of downtown Los Angeles with plenty of parking options around including street parking, parking lots, covered garages and valet. As I was driving to the venue, I chose a garage a mere block away for only $10. Plenty of other people I met on the night opted for short uber/cab rides or to even take the metro to one of the stations located within a 15 minute walk of the theater.
Entry was swift with both security and ticket personnel at the door working efficiently to ensure lines moved fast. The venue provided free coat check while space lasted and decked out each of the four rooms appropriately for a NYE bash. Set-up included light and laser systems, large LED screens, inflatable balloons and large fatheads.
Minimal Effort provided options, options and even more options. If you wanted a balloon drop in a massive space to the sounds of Jimmy Edgar you made your way to the Theater, and if you preferred a dark basement and deep house you probably found yourself in the Basement for Fur Coat. Techno aficionados probably spent most of their time in the small but powerful Lights Down Low area right next to the Basement while the Ballroom on the top floor attracted hundreds for sets by the likes of Lee K, andhim and H.O.S.H.
There were plenty of bar options throughout and bathroom lines never took more than a couple of minutes at most despite all rooms being busy for most part of the night. An entire outside area, decked out with greenery and a bar provided the perfect smoking room location or just a space to take a break in between sets. The only issue I had was with signage – being new to the Belasco, it took a bit of exploring to find each of the spaces hosting music.
Crowd & Atmosphere
The atmosphere was nothing short of electric throughout the night. Each room bristled with house and techno fans that chose Minimal Effort to truly enjoy the acts on the line-up while celebrating the arrival of 2016.
Some NYE parties can be over-packed with their share of disrespectful crowds. Thankfully I saw none of that at Minimal Effort and was able to make new friends and enjoy my space relatively easily.
Upon entry I was welcomed by the sounds of Human Resources, the men behind Underrated Presents. With deep house booming on the strong sound system, they provided the perfect soundtrack to start the evening of celebration. I went off exploring but came back for Jimmy Edgar right as the Detroit-born producer was setting the mood for the countdown with his signature bass-heavy house. Later, I closed out the night with Dirtybird’s J.Phlip who honestly surprised me by straying away from bass, instead delivering a set that steered towards infectious techno. Overall this was the spot to be in terms of overall atmosphere and production as the room was decked with an intricate system of lights, lasers and a powerful sound-system.
It was a party in the Ballroom throughout the entire night. Lee K took over from 6AM Group’s Jia with a techno focused set that has seen her rewarded with strong billing at Richie Hawtin’s Enter parties all over the world. The large white screen behind the elevated stage and the various large inflatable balloons turned the room into a rowdy party as German duo andhim and Diynamic’s H.O.S.H. took over for back-to-back house performances that had everyone in a frenzy from start to finish.
Deep house was the name of the game in the larger of the two downstairs room. Local trio Droog set the tone for a night of deep vibes accompanied by recent Essential Mix debutants Fur Coat and Mexico’s Louie Fresco. I particularly enjoyed the Venezuelan duo’s deep, dark and groovy set – it was unique and refreshing when compared to the bigger sounds going on in the other two rooms that featured house.
Lights Down Low
This is where the techno happened. Granted, it was the smallest of all rooms but it was deeply intimate and the sound was big to say the least. Silent Servant went dark early before passing on the reign to Jackmaster, a welcomed last-minute addition to the night. The Scot drew the biggest crowd of the night in the room as he performed a set that blended elements of house and techno with great efficacy. Next up was Black Asteroid and the characteristic dark and industrial techno that has seen him release on such influential labels as CLR and Electric Deluxe. I personally loved the entire music selection although I feel that the same line-up could have drawn more people in a bigger space, while others may have possibly had a hard time to find the room due to a lack of proper signage.
The Music – 5 out of 5
The big draw of Minimal Effort was the line-up. Diverse and eclectic it provided great quality house and techno throughout all four rooms. Underrated Presents did a fantastic job in featuring both local top-notch acts and world class acts for a complete bill that was second tonone in the LA area.
Experience – 4 out of 5
Overall it was a fantastic night of music with a great atmosphere and crowd. The only thing that marred my personal experience was an over-zealous security worker in the Theater that decided to grab everyone’s drinks out of their hands and throw them away right as the clock struck 2am. I can understand the need to follow alcohol consumption laws but it was done rudely and with no warning a mere 5 minutes after the venue was selling drinks.
Value – 4.5 out of 5
Tickets were first on sale for $60 with prices only going up $80 plus fees for the last and final tier. The price was fair for the size of line-up presented and on a night as big as NYE. Moreover, it included entry to the recovery party at Couture on the 1st with Carl Craig and Audiofly billed to play. Beers at the Belasco cost $9 and while a $14 price tag for mixed drinks isn’t necessarily too high, they were served in the smallest cup possible and were quite frankly not measured properly for the price.
Overall – 4.67 out of 5
I walked out in the early hours of the morning signing the praises of the entire night. The sets were fantastic, the crowd friendly and the venue perfect for an event of this size. Minimal Effort has truly come up in the last two years, establishing itself as a party series that attracts true talent and puts focus where it matters. No fakeness, no pretentiousness and above all fairness and attention on what matters most: the music.