Resurgent Rock

Energetic new bands and fresh audiences are pumping life into a dying music

Oberst paused. Then the entire theater erupted in raucous cheers, making it difficult to decide which was more surprising: that the newly crowned standard-bearer of a genre previously known for its apoliticism could produce such a fierce attack, or that his fans -- previously defined by their own navel-gazing -- would respond so rapturously to it.

Where all this energy might go is still unclear. None of the emerging acts has fashioned a distinctly Miami sound, one that speaks to and about the South Florida experience in the way that the Strokes's lived-in jadedness could only have emerged from New York City, or Bright Eyes's wounded innocence could only hail from the placid Midwest outpost of Omaha. We have yet to hear anything as striking as Nil Lara's eponymous 1996 album, or as original as the son steeped in Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison laid down by Cuban-exile Juan-Carlos Formell on this past summer's Las Calles del Paraíso.

But it's still early. Being continuously exposed to so much inspired music can only heighten the percolation in our own back yard. In the meantime, keeping one's ears peeled to Miami's frisson has rarely been more exciting.

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