The Arctic Monkeys school Miami in the best of northern Brit rock
Thursday's show at the Fillmore marks the Arctic Monkeys' first performance in Miami Beach, but the Sheffield, England rockers already count a famous local resident as an unlikely fan: Diddy. About this time last year, the band was in New York, putting the finishing touches on some studio tracks with Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford. When Ford had a gig playing the second day of Ultra Music Festival, Monkeys drummer Matt Helders tagged along.
Somewhere during a debauched Winter Music Conference party at Cameo, Diddy approached Ford and Helders, professing a love for both acts. What followed was an only-in-Miami stretch of early-morning partying at the mogul's mansion, the sleep-deprived results of which can be spotted on YouTube. (Search for the clip titled "The View From Sean's House Party.")
What also resulted, apparently, was a friendship. "I think Matt kind of had a bromance with him for a while," Monkeys bassist Nick O'Malley says. "When we played in New York, he came into the crowd and tried to get to the barrier, dancing along to one of our songs while people freaked out."
Who can blame him? The Monkeys' brew is an inviting one, built on the traditional guitar muscle of the best northern English indie rock. Even the notoriously cranky Noel Gallagher, of Oasis, once favorably compared the band to his own in the pages of NME. But where Oasis and the like reveled in a sort of beer-soaked near-hooliganism, the Arctic Monkeys have always gone for a more pure, less dangerous sonic joy. It's one that's undercut by English wit and more than a hint of moodiness, though. Their breakout 2005 crossover single, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," was a rousing indie dance favorite, but its lyrics seemed to mock the song's hipster queen as much as they praised her.
It's a light-dark duality the band has further explored on subsequent albums, most markedly on the most recent disc, last year's Humbug. "At the time, I had been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd and Nick Cave," O'Malley recounts. "But for the next one, we're talking about doing something fast all the way through. We always wanted to do that and were going to for the last one — but then we didn't want to leave the slow songs out!"
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