Hot damn, all the hipsters came out of the woodwork for the Glass Candy show last Friday night at the Vagabond! I've never seen such a massive turnout for what is still a considerably obscure band, and at a venue that normally caters to a smaller indie cognoscenti crowd. There aren't that many hipsters in South Florida, are there? Maybe the hype surrounding Glass Candy preceded it that night, or maybe I simply underestimated the general musical savvy and good taste of the downtown nightlife set.
By midnight, the line outside the Vagabond had stretched down the block. The place was practically at full capacity inside, so its likely that at least a handful of the additional hundred or so people on the sidewalk got turned down at the door. Off the Radar's DJ Danny Ashe had the party bumpin' in the front room with a selection of classic and new funky favorites. You also can't go wrong with the Vag's Friday-night dollar beer specials, of which it seemed most partiers partook copious amounts before Glass Candy hit the stage in the main room around 1 a.m.
The duo of Johnny Jewel and Ida No is a different beast when it plays live. The somewhat lethargic, Quaalude-hazed sound of the pair's studio recordings becomes a raging and dynamic sonic bacchanal onstage. Producer/keyboardist Jewel manned his synths and hardware with a certain energetic improvisational flair missing from the more spartan arrangements of their tracks. Meanwhile, vocalist Ida No, oozing pure sex and charisma, belted out songs with the greatest vigor while feeding ravenously off the crowd's energy. And, boy, can that girl move! In her '80s leotard, she pranced and shook it around the stage barefoot like Jane Fonda on peyote.
They kicked off with some popular material from their 2007 album, B/E/A/T/B/O/X, a crowd-pleasing move that had the roomful of people bouncing ecstatically from the get-go. Jacked-up and upbeat versions of "Digital Versicolor," "Beatific," and "Candy Castle" preceded some older, punkier material from their first releases and some stuff from their 2008 Deep Gems album. These included "Geto Boys" and an epic rendition of the "Miss Broadway" electro-house remix that was easily the highlight of the night.
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Here's an act with the musical talent and onstage presence of the finest disco-era performers, combined with the grit and raw attitude of the punk era's most daring provocateurs. They show a generation weaned on jaded and frigid DJs how to really get down, and we love them for it.