Better Than: Not going to a warehouse party where Radioboxer and Lavola are going to rock out.
Saturday was keyboardist Gian Nicolaci's birthday, and this week is bassist Jota Dazza's, so naturally, the Radioboxer gang celebrated the only way the would make any sense at all, with what they dubbed a Keg and Cake Party! Yes, there was in fact a keg, and indeed, cake too. And the whole thing went down at in the band's rehearsal studio and where the recorded their debut Radiodrama, The Shack North, huddled amidst rows of warehouses in Hialeah on Friday night, and featured a pair of performances as intense as the setting was intimate.
Of course, before any of that could be taken in, we had to make our way through the City of Progress, a journey which on this particular occasion, involved an all-lanes detour into a DUI checkpoint in a Banco Popular's parking lot on 103rd Street (which, I guess, is also 49th ... for some reason that no Hialeah city planner could properly explain).
"Have you ever had your license suspended before?" the officer asked me as called it in on his walkie.
"Not in some years," I replied.
"Were you arrested that time?"
"No sir," I answered truthfully. "Not that time."
They never did ask if I'd been drinking, and luckily, I had forgone prelims. All was well in the end of this encounter, though. In another 10 minutes, we were mulling about the parking lot outside the studio, enjoying keg beer, anticipating a great show, and chatting with the other attendees, like another badass local act (and winner of this year's New Times Best Songwriter), Boxwood.
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Some time around midnight (the details become fuzzy where kegs and red Solo cups are concerned), West Palm rockers Lavola took the stage. Comprised of vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Julian Cires, drummer Brian Weinthal, and bassist Matt Hanser, this three-piece indie-art rock outfit really do fill out the stage. They opened with a large, atmospheric and very nearly hypnotic guitar loop built on one of Cires' pedals and awash in chorus. Listen to their stuff, it sounded a little like the beginning of "We Were Heroes For the Day," only much bigger, a wall of sound buffeting the crowd. Then they broke into "The Queen is Dead."
Hard, driving, guitar-driven rock pierced by Cires' high-pitched vocals are the norm for Lavola. And it's shocking really, reconciling what they put down live with the fact that they've been performing together a very short time. This is undoubtedly a band to watch.
Following that (and a brief break just long enough to refill your Solo cup and have a smoke or two), Radioboxer kicked their show off. And as ever, the Hialeah-based alt-rockers who won Reader's Choice in our Best of Miami issue last year did not disappoint. No, they straight up killed it.
Led by charismatic vocalist Vanne Dazza, who has all the energy onstage of a small supernova, the birthday boys, guitarist Esteban Gomez and drummer Tekilla 23 ripped into their set with "The Long Goodbye," followed by "GMV" and the anthemic "Go Home." They covered the Pixies' "Gigantic" and Breeder's "Cannonball," with Vanne screaming into a bullhorn. They played the new single they've recorded for their followup album "Elephant Heart" and closed with a two song encore, "Bolero," at the urging of the crowd, And "Placebo Effect."
Warehouse party, keg, brief encounter with the cops that ended well and oh-so-much rock. It was a hell of a birthday celebration, to be sure.
Personal Bias: Freakin' love me some Radioboxer!
Random Detail: Jota and Vanne Dazza are presently in Colombia, where they've lined up some radio interviews and other promo ops.
The Long Goodbye
By the Way: Fooled you, coppers. I was arrested that time my license was suspended! Or was I...?