With North & South and Plains
Friday, August 12, 2011
Better Than: Spending another Friday night watching TiVo-ed episodes of "So You Think You Can Dance" with my cat.
Going into Grand Central is a confusing, disorienting experience. On the one side, you've got hip Miami youngsters trying to rub the Xs off their hands in the bathroom. And on the other, you've got the high-heeled, cologne-doused club elite who have a "friend" that can get them past the vast, five-person line.
Crowd split aside, the venue proved to be the perfect setting for the three small Miami bands at Friday's show.
North & South was first up with their sad and heartwarming instrumentals. They're similar to Explosions in the Sky, only they don't inevitably show up on every Pandora station ever created. Despite the slow, trailing songs, North & South's lovely sound held the crowd, which included a few of their stage mates. I spoke with Little Beard's Edwin Beauchamp after the show and he characterized them as "loud, shoegazey, and perfect."
Next up was Plains, a band of big beards and big sounds. Frontman Michael McGinnis may have been having a rough night. ("I just quit smoking and it's fucking hard," he said at the start of his set.) But that didn't keep him from delivering a solid performance. I saw, like, a million dance moves in the crowd, from rolling the dice to disco to Johnny Bravo's "Do The Monkey." And Plains' song "Stains" probably produced the most ass-shakes of the night.
When Little Beard came on, the band drew the most people to the stage and away from the bar. At this point, all dance moves were forgotten and replaced by full body fits, insane head bobs, and complete toes-in-the-air bouncing. Fans who knew all the words to the songs were joined by Grand Central clubbers looking for a good time.
As they started off their set with "Secrets", the LED screen behind them played "Cremaster 3: The Order," a video by art star (and Bjork's husband) Matthew Barney. The third part of the bizarre art film series (an ode to the muscle that raises and lowers the testes, no less) featured half-naked synchronized swimmers strutting their stuff, alternating with guitar close-ups. The whole thing was a little mesmerizing and added to the rock-star vibe.
Little Beard's set was easily the most energetic of the night, with favorites like "Summer Days in Unicorn Cardigans," "Love Me If You Dare," and "Restless Days and Nights," as well as the new "Me Too." As Beauchamp thumped his bass, there were chants of "bass, bass, bass" in the crowd, while drummer Mario Fabregas' banged out the perfect rhythm. Guitarist Michael Lee doled out infectious riffs while donning a Sonic Youth tee. (We hear they're big fans.)
Singer and keyboardist Sarah Attias's belting vocals and shameless energy took her all over the stage, including lying on floor and kicking at the ceiling. There was even a moment of enviable abandon during "Baby Baby" when she removed her oversized shirt revealing a strapless romper and wailed the song's kicker, "Baby, be mine."
The band finished off with their own "Lee & Nancy," after which Attias asked the crowd, "Do you wanna hear one more?" The overwhelming response leaned towards, "Yes, do you even have to ask?" and led to a resounding climax: a cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom." As Attias shrieked the words, she bounced from the stage to the floor and back.
But the true highlight of the evening came when Little Beard was joined onstage by three mysterious dudes ("We met them mid-set," said Fabregas), two of whom held up flaming Roman candles and another donning a green spandex bodysuit. The band didn't flinch for a second as green guy lifted Attias into the air and the others threw napkins all across the stage, which Beauchamp later gathered and threw into the crowd.
Don't believe the awesomeness? Check it:Video by Chad Bond
Overheard on the Sidewalk: A man stuck his head out of his Chevy Impala's heavily tinted windows to yell, "We'll be back to shut this shit down!" I won't pretend I wasn't just a little bit paranoid the rest of the night.
Personal Bias: Kittens.
Only Complaint: Grand Central needs to control them flashing lights or provide its patrons with some shutter shades.
North&South Set List:
-"The Blue Room"
Plains Set List:
-"Poor Little Space Monkey"
-"End of the World"
Little Beard Set List:
-"Restless Days and Nights"
-"Summer Days in Unicorn Cardigans"
-"Love Me If You Dare"
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-"Lee & Nancy"
-"In Bloom" (Nirvana Cover)