Sleepless Night returns this Saturday to Miami Beach. Staying up all night there is nothing new, but the event is way more high-falutin', asking you to stay awake for things like opera and experimental dance. That can seem like a tall order in this town, but the last edition was surprisingly well-attended, and it's nice to at least say you did something cultural, no? (You can read a general explanation of it here.)
I have to say, though, that this year's musical line-up is somewhat disappointing. There is, indeed, a ton of live music all over the place as part of Sleepless Night, but most of it generally falls along the very wide spectrum from Latin to jazz to Latin jazz. Okay, jazz, I won't hate on, because about the only place to hear it around here these days is the Van Dyke, and jazz lovers gotta get a bone tossed to 'em some time.
But most of the event line-up completely ignores the opportunity to bring in a crowd that would usually give artsy events a wide berth. It would have been a lot more fun and smart to mix in some more dance music, hip-hop, or rock in with the program of short films, art, theater, and dance.
The only organizers who really aimed for a youthful, more party-type crowd are the people behind Rhythm Foundation, who, for the evening, control a stage at the 21st Street beach. However, even they played it safe by asking the Spam Allstars to headline. Yes, people love them, but it's not exactly like there's a shortage of events or venues in Miami regularly featuring Spam and Suenalo.
*Ben Neill and LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots, 6 p.m., Normandy Fountain Stage (Rue Vendome between Normandy Drive and 71st Street).
What is cooler than robots who play electronic music? That's right, pretty much nothing. Ben Neill, meanwhile, is a composer and inventor who created something called the "mutantrumpet." Of course these weirdos live in Brooklyn. Here's an example of a LEMUR tune, to give you an idea. Amazing.
*The Beach High Rock Ensemble, 6 p.m., the Euclid Oval Stage (Lincoln Road at Euclid)
Being in the school band at Beach High is actually cool, and this ensemble has produced local favorites like Jacobs Ladder.
*The Global Cuba Music Fest at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 6 to 11 p.m.
Yes, this is on that Latin jazz spectrum, but they managed to snag some pretty big names in that world. Also, this is a nice venue for that kind of music, with good acoustics and seating, and it's probably the only time you'll get into a show at the Fillmore for free. Click here for a Crossfade post from earlier this week with a breakdown of the performances.
*FLEA Ensemble, 6 to 11:30 p.m., the Wolfsonian-FIU (1001 Washington Ave.)
A very adjective-filled description full of many-syllabled words boils down to this: avant-garde laptop music.
*Rockarchive exhibit, 6 p.m. to midnight, the Betsy South Beach (1440 Ocean Dr.)
Not music per se, but music-related -- classic rock photos and a meet-and-greet with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jill Furmanowski.
*Oy-Le! 6:30 p.m., the Ocean Drive Main Stage (Ocean Drive between 8th and 9th Streets)
Siempre Flamenco and the Heavy Shtetl Klezmer Trio come together for a mash-up of klezmer and flamenco! Actually, that doesn't sound like such a discordant combination; it's guaranteed to be loud and dramatic.
*Miami Lyric Opera's La Traviata, 7 p.m., North Beach Band Shell (7255 Collins Ave.)
Stuffy as its reputation may be, opera actually is amazing when performed live -- dramatic, with lots to look at. It's admittedly difficult to make it through one without the translation supertitles, and it's doubtful the bandshell will have that sort of technological set-up. But the emotion and pageantry of this selection should provide enough to follow the general gist of the plot.
*The Entire Rhythm Foundation Stage, 8 p.m. onwards, at the 21st Street Beach
All performers here are a safe bet for fun. The Brazilian samba band and dance ensemble Grupo Embalo goes on at 8 p.m. Pop/rock wunderkind Jacob Jeffries plays with his band at 9 p.m., and Transit Lounge staples Lanzallamas Monofonica go on at 10:20 p.m. If your Spam Allstars tank is running dangerously low, they headline at midnight.
*Deep Surface, 9 p.m., Ocean Drive Main Stage
A multimedia performance created by composer Gabriel E. Pulido, this is an "homage to the sea" involving dance, video, and electronic and live music. This is the premier of the piece, which is sponsored by the Ocean Foundation and the Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
*ArtOfficial, from 9 to 11 p.m. at the Catalina (1720 - 1756 Collins Ave.)
One of the few acts to really get the live hip-hop thing right, these guys provide one of the best live shows in town.
*Angela Laino, 10 to 11 p.m., the Florida Room at the Delano (1685 Collins Ave.)
She's already a staple at the Florida Room, which is worth a visit just for its fabulous retro-mobster-chic interior design. But Laino is the real draw here on Saturday -- she's an amazingly talented soul-type singer/songwriter with a serious set of pipes.
*The South Beach Chamber Ensemble, 10 p.m., Ocean Drive Main Stage
Again, this is a stuffy name for something that is actually quite cool and genre-blending. This particular piece includes hip-hop artist La Guardia, drum machine beats from Name Brand, African drumming and dancing by Etagweyo Vincent Onokurte, and Indian percussion from Shri. Oh yes, and live poetry by Carlos Pintado.
*DJ Miguel's Disco Alfresco, 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., Da Leo Trattoria (819 Lincoln Road)
Okay, this is basically a retro DJ set, but disco is classic.
Honestly, I can't find any info on this guy, but it's supposed to be an acoustic thing, and the name is promising. The Keirin Cycles crowd is kind of the fixed-gear, cut-off-jeans type so this won't be boring. Also, it's worth sticking around Keirin afterwards for a big-screen showing of the '80s Disney epic Tron!
*Afin-k-o, 11 p.m., South Beach Languages (227 9th St.)
These guys get a shout-out for being the only Vallenato band playing.
*Silvano Monasterios and the Fourth World Ensemble, 11 p.m., Normany Fountain Stage.
*"Rock the World" Featuring DJ Maximus 3000 and Tania Mashay, 1:30 - 5:30 a.m., Ocean Drive Showground (Ocean Drive Between 11th and 12th Streets)
The official description says this is a "kaleidoscope of pop culture presented as a party rock audio/visual showcase... topped off by theatrical light up LED costumes in sync with the music, audience participation and glow products spread throughout the crowd." Hmm, this could turn out to be just a DJ in a light-up suit passing out glowsticks, but the duo also promises live singing from Tania Mashay, showcasing original synth pop! Synth pop and glow products! Could be interesting.