For more than two decades, Frank Falestra, better known as Rat Bastard, has shaped the South Florida music scene. A masterful producer and an eminent luminary in the noise music movement, he is without a doubt one of the most admired local heroes. As a result, all kinds of mind-blowing stories have circulated about him.
So Rob Elba (of the Holy Terrors), along with pal Brian Franklin, set to work to pay tribute to his friend and mentor. Last year, the pair began writing a musical — yes, really — based on Rat Bastard's life. It's called Hearing Damage: The Rat Opera, and last Saturday at Tobacco Road in downtown Miami marked its first public performance. The atmosphere was celebratory, with Mr. Bastard making the rounds and catching up with old friends.
The concert began with the energetic, boisterous "Wings and Parts 1," followed by "A Boy Called Rat." And although many of the songs performed at the beginning of the night were acoustic, things eventually revved up when bandmates Will Trev, Russell Mofsky, Andre Serafini, and Jim Camacho created a real wall of noise. Another highlight was "Outside the Bar," a nod to Rat's guerrilla method of mounting spontaneous concerts in unlikely places. The song truly captured the magic of his creative approach. All in all, the evening was a fun unveiling of a well-deserved musical tribute to one of Miami's legendary musical mavericks. If you missed it, don't fret — an October 3 performance at Churchill's promises to be a more fleshed-out, theatrical stage show.
By the way, a set piece used at the show — a one-of-a-kind, life-size photo cutout of Rat — went missing. If anyone knows its whereabouts, please contact the creators of Hearing Damage through their Facebook page, facebook.com/pages/rat-opera.
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