The homeless were out and about on the block of NE 11th Street between NE Second and North Miami avenues one recent Saturday evening. A man in a wifebeater repeatedly accosted anyone for five dollars, then one dollar, nearing hostility with each solicitation but never quite crossing the threshold to violence. A leather-skinned older woman with a backpack begged meekly but persistently. The object of their attention — a portly fellow in a Black Sabbath T-shirt and black-and-white-striped knit cap — silently declined. His five bucks was going to a greater cause: a local rock show at Studio A (60 NE 11th St, Miami; 305-358-7625). (The strip is also home to dance clubs Life, Nocturnal, and Space, as well as the legendary strip joint Gold Rush, but theirs are late crowds.)
He was the first person to arrive, and he came alone. A true fan. Studio A is known for consistently bringing in quality national acts and throwing hipster "scene and be seen" parties, but the local live niche isn't exactly its forte. In fact I felt strange being there hours before midnight. Chandeliers flickered dimly overhead while banquettes lining two walls remained empty. Nonetheless the DJ spun danceable vintage punk tracks by the likes of the Clash, Generation X, Vibrators, and Dead Kennedys as the opening act prepared onstage.
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What followed was a string of unnoteworthy acts speeding through four- or five-song sets. Placebo-meets-college-rock spawn the Kut brought a small following of friends who snapped photos and danced uneasily. Dead Beat Dad's gimmicky outfits were more memorable than its pop-punk sound: articles of clothing included a Green Lantern T-shirt, a busy fish-festooned polo, goth pants with dangling green straps, and sunglasses. The crowd finally started to show some life with Boy Prostitute. At the edge of the stage stood the early-arriving fanboy. He thrust his fist to the band's Misfits-inspired crooning and three-chord nu-punk reverb while others sang along to the morbid lyrics. The show took a turn in style with following act Humbert's Weezeresque, vein-bulging ballads and poppy keyboard notes. Performing for more than a decade, the quartet rounded up the largest audience — which was still anemic at best.