Best Of :: Bars & Clubs
Somewhere between lounge, bar, and club sits The Vagabond, a lovably comfy new hangout in the old I/O space on NE 14th St. This is a place with a mission statement unlike no other in town: Everybody is welcome here as long as they dance and have a good time. Just see the club's official slogan: "You are no one. You are every one." Rock kids can come in scruffy Converse sneakers; house heads can show up to jam without worrying about not having an asymmetrical haircut. That's because there's a vibe for everyone in this indoor/outdoor playground, from the mod-futuristic main room to the bohemian-styled front bar to the urban-tiki weirdness of the back patio. The soundtrack can be anything from a mix of cutting-edge dance sounds to throwback soul to garage rock to all of the above, depending on the hour of the evening and the mood of the crowd. Prices, too, are superrelaxed: Well drinks go for $6, a better deal than at the bar's downtown neighbors. Chilled-out and familiar but still fresh and funky, The Vagabond feels like ... well, home.
You know Rachel Goodrich. You were drunk, it was Churchill's or PS14 or wherever, and there was this girl playing music, and you didn't really give a crap, but then you noticed everybody else was paying attention, so you started to listen and — zammee! — you were, like, Holy shit. This girl's pretty good. A blurry minute later, you thought, No, she's very good. Maybe it was the ukulele she brought out; maybe it was the participatory glee she incited when she handed instruments to the crowd; whatever it was, you were digging it. And then the tequila took hold and off to the curb you stumbled — but Rachel played on without you. A Miami Beach native, the 23-year-old musical phenomenon has been writing her own stuff since she was 12 and began performing at age 16. The stuff she's working on these days — music she describes as "shakeabilly" — is a little bit rock, a little bit country, a little bit crazy-woman, and generally a whole lot of fun. Her only regular gig at the moment is 190 Restaurant, every Friday night, but it's not hard to find her playing somewhere on any given weekend. Check her MySpace page for upcoming shows. And if you're too lame to go out and hear her live, she's got an album coming out in a few months.
Six signs of a serious afterhours party: 1. A crowd that goes to sleep insanely early, only to arise around 3 a.m. and then begin getting ready to go out. 2. A hard-core subset of that crowd that won't deign to do afterhours, or even party much, anywhere else. 3. A 24-hour liquor license (!). 4. Marathon sets by some of the world's superstar DJs, from Roger Sanchez to Dubfire, who show up after they've played gigs at regular clubs. 5. International mix CDs named solely for one geographical area — say, a terrace — of said afterhours party. 6. A crowd on said terrace visible from the highway until, sometimes, 2 p.m. the following day. Space Saturdays boasts all of these. Nobody else in town can, and they don't even try. End of story.
Induce is sort of like the dark horse of the DJ pack. What he lacks in superhigh-profile residencies at boring danceterias he more than makes up for in skill, deep musical knowledge, and diversity. A young DJ with an old-school mindset, he's the type of guy who still lives with rooms of old vinyl and who doesn't need Serato to school his weaker peers and move butts. An Induce set is always a tossup because he does with finesse what the best DJs do: plays to the crowd. And because of his encyclopedic mental library, audiences are startlingly wide in range — everyone from indie types at Poplife to hip-hop heads at Purdy Lounge to fashionistas at Gen Art parties to Zen types at The Standard to the swank and pampered patrons at The Shore Club. Just see the track list of his 2007 mix, More Iconic Less Ironic: Eric B. & Rakim, The Cure, the Neptunes, and Stereolab all get equal billing. Meanwhile, he's been garnering web love for his own productions and for his turn as half of the duo, uh, Casual Sax, which has been blessed with Perez Hilton's golden wand. Boring laptop jocks, eat your hearts out.
Shine, nestled inside the glam Shelborne Beach Resort, was a labor of love for DJ Jonathan Cowan, whose family has long owned and operated the hotel. With a veteran dance-floor conductor at its helm when it opened in the spring of 2006, the club quickly distinguished itself for its stellar Steve Dash sound system and even more stellar DJ lineup. For that year's edition of WMC, Shine glittered with luminaries rarely seen in Miami, including Satoshi Tomiie and Frankie Knuckles. But by early 2007, weekly operations ceased and all kinds of rumors swirled — Miami New Times even declared it the "best club to die within the past year."We were all wrong. Cowan was just on a break to take care of family business and retool the club's programming a bit. So last summer, Shine came back with a bang, hosting special events during which the likes of Adam Freeland, Layo and Bushwacka!, and King Britt, among others, graced the decks. WMC 2008 saw the place slammed, with the return of Tomiie, for one, and parties by Ibiza superclub Pacha and legendary label Def Mix. The remainder of the year, the club continues to open for special events, treating local dance music cognoscenti to house, techno, electro, and the rest of the best in new beats. The moral of the story: Patience pays, and Shine still sparkles.
As rumors flew that The Eat was spending a lot of time in a not-so-secret rehearsal space, the collective excitement felt across South Florida's music scene was palpable as far and wide as our hipsters are astute and with it. The Eat, previously named Best Band of All Time by this publication, had not played in about a dozen years, so the news was almost earth shattering to fans. Arguably, The Eat was South Florida's first punk band, releasing in 1979 a DIY single ("Communist Radio/Catholic Love"), which has likely changed hands more times on eBay than there are actual copies. But rarity wasn't the only reason the group's sides sell for hundreds of dollars — The Eat's catalogue is chock full of musical and lyrical gems on par with any chart toppers from that period. Ever wonder how the Miami scene got its bizarre sense of humor? Just pick up last year's It's Not The Eat, It's The Humidity compilation, and it will all start to make sense ... well, more sense, anyway. Those songs influenced young bands (and other funny people) for years afterward. The compilation itself was perhaps the biggest reason Mike and Eddie O'Brien reformed the band with longtime member Kenny Lindahl and newcomer Mike Vullo (substituting for Chris Cottie, who passed away in 2004) to perform to a packed Churchill's Hideaway on Groundhog Day. The band was spot-on, and audience members left with huge grins on their faces. The boys have already played at least one other unannounced set this year and promise more official gigs in the near future. We hope they really mean the actual "near future," not 12 years from now.