By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Bathrooms: Class, class, class.
Overall: A Miami Beach mainstay for a reason — whether showcasing jazz, reggae, or whatever else, it's a sure bet for free live music in a comfy setting. The main problem is it's tiny, so the downstairs can get packed. And it's so awkward to open the main door, only to be confronted with a crowd facing you, staring at the stage just adjacent.
Bathrooms: Only one stall for women, which lately does not seem to have a door handle. It also features one of those creepy light-up ads that magically turns on when you pass in front. I know it's only a sensor, but that little eye looks like a camera, and it's disconcerting so near a toilet.
Overall: The venue that time seemingly forgot. The maze of one-way streets and highway exits surrounding it in the thick of downtown create a real accessibility issue, as does the lack of parking. Just to get there, one has to climb through an eerily quiet maze of a convention center and hotel lobby before finally reaching the concert space. The peeling paint and faded photographs are reminiscent of a college basketball arena. However, there's good, semicircular seating design with lots of sightlines, and lots of bars. But people queued up for drinks obstruct the flow of the milling crowd.
Bathrooms: Unremarkable but with the vague feel of a high school locker room.
Overall: The only place in town for midlevel touring acts, Studio A has attracted a diverse array of performers that would otherwise require a trek to, say, Revolution or Culture Room, or wouldn't appear in South Florida at all. For a standing-room-only venue with no seats, the layout is straightforward, and there are great sightlines. But drinks are definitely pricey for a rock club, and during an especially packed WMC party for the German techno label Get Physical, it once took me almost 20 minutes to walk from the front end of the club to the bathroom.
Bathrooms: There are mercifully several stalls, but the availability of toilet paper can be touch and go. And, while I know bathroom attendants need to make their money, if I've already tipped generously once in an evening, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect continued access to hand soap.
Overall: Like Churchill's, the Road is a Miami mainstay (it's been around for how long now, almost a century?). However, it often flies under many people's radar because it focuses on über-local acts thanks to tireless promoter and booster Oski Gonzalez. A mix of some slightly larger-name bands might draw in some new blood, but the place is small, and the combination of loungy furniture plus a ready-for-drinking crowd can pack it up quickly. Plus, where else can you wander downstairs and get a burger? Smokers, again, are pariahs. Welcome to 2008.
Bathrooms: Two stalls for women, usually clean, but the downstairs location can make them a pain to access if you're upstairs watching a band.
Overall: Another cool little spot where you can take people for a drink and impress them with your find — because so far it's attracted a niche audience. The acts have mainly focused on jammy, jazzy, fusiony stuff, and they've really fomented a scene. But rock kids would like it, too, if they had a reason to go. It has a great location in the becoming-more-high-traffic area of southish downtown, just around the corner from Tobacco Road, and just up the road from the Coral Way drag. There's lots of comfortable seating and a huge bar, with prices a little higher than you might expect.
Bathrooms: Is it possible to consider a club bathroom cute? These are, with painted wooden slat things for walls and doors. Recently renovated (or at least repainted) and usually clean. Yay.