The Shows Go On
I know, a couple of weeks ago I talked smack about year-end lists while dispensing a roundup of my favorite local albums of 2007. But I couldn't resist one more, especially with the previous issue's national roundup of the year in music. For some local flavor I racked my brain for a few of my favorite gigs out of the 100-plus shows I attended last year. I couldn't remember them all, and am sure I'm conflating several others. (DJ gigs are even fuzzier, but I saw so many I had to rate some. For my top picks, go to CrossFade, the Miami New Times music blog, at blogs.miaminewtimes.com/crossfade). So here, then, is my list of 10 good shows I still remember lucidly, in chronological order.
Cage, Studio A, Miami, January 28, and El-P, Studio A, Miami, March 19: These are two separate gigs, separated by a couple of months, but they're both Def Jux acts so I'll squish them together. Altough the Cage gig was shoehorned into a random Sunday night, it was attended by a fiercely attentive crowd. Between-set onstage high jinx included alt-porn chicks punching dudes from the audience as hard as they could. Later overenthusiastic audience members began to fling bags of various drugs at the MC during his set. (Most were flung back.)
As for the El-P show, its date right before the beginning of Winter Music Conference meant a packed house itching to start the party already. El, who performed in an orange prisoner's jumpsuit, smeared with crusted-over fake blood, was a sheer madman who still exhibited enviable breath control and an unnerving stage presence.
KRS-One, Studio A, Miami, May 9: Not to be confused with KRS's September gig at Studio A (sure, I heard that one was great), this performance, after a crazy-long buildup of opening sets including ¡Mayday! and Garcia, had a serious payoff. Fat Joe as a hype man!?
The Police, Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, July 10: This made me a believer in the power of stadium concerts — well, sometimes. I still think they're often a waste of time for 75 percent of the audience in the far seats. But I was lucky to sit close enough to see that Sting and company definitely still have it.
Morrissey, Mizner Park Amphitheater, Boca Raton, July 14: I'll never say anything bad about Morrissey. Well, it would take a lot. During his first visit back to South Florida in a couple of years, Moz gave us tidbits like "How Soon Is Now" that he'd previously forsaken. The back and forth of energy between him and the crowd was palpable. Only complaints: the horrifying summer heat and an encore of only one song.
Rock the Bells tour, AT&T Bayfront Park Amphitheater, Miami, August 4: Sure, Miami's version was a one-stage affair (besides a locals' platform), way stripped down from the tour's stops in New York and California. But in a place where hip-pop, booty bass, and snap music dominate the airwaves, getting a visit at all — and a packed one, at that — was a serious victory for the city's hip-hop heads. Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and Nas all straight-up killed it, despite the soul-destroying summer Florida heat. And then came Wu-Tang, instantly turning the crowd into a sea of rhythmically waving T-shirts, covered by an L.A.-horizon-style layer of smoke.
Projekt Revolution tour, Sound Advice Amphitheatre, West Palm Beach, August 10: The local stop of Linkin Park's traveling summer festival featured a lineup that at first seemed weird but ultimately made sense. The bill boasted My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, and even Placebo and Mindless Self Indulgence, among others. But all bands were vaguely dark, vaguely cultish, and at least poked into the semi-mainstream with more intelligence than that sphere usually allows. Plus I'm all for anything that makes Linkin Park knuckleheads sit through a set by the fey, arch London-based Placebo, and actually win some of them over.
Interpol, BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, September 19: The first part of this show did not bode well. At all. This University of Miami venue is aseptic — no alcohol, no cigarettes — and the night was also strangely freezing-cold. There was no ambient music between sets, leaving only the subdued whimper of those not smart enough to sneak in their own booze, and the dull fwap of restless asses in plastic flip-up seats. Also, Liars's experimentation was better suited for a small club gig than a small arena's warm-up set. But finally the appearance of Interpol instantly changed the tone. The band sounded flawless as it charged at full gallop through the best of both old and new material. A moody light show amped up the experience.
Cat Power, Studio A, Miami, October 22: Chan Marshall loves her adopted hometown, and Miami loves her right back. The comfortable, friends-and-family vibe contributed to her best area show yet. Marshall was slinky and sultry as she — along with her new backing band, the Southern-tinged, soulful Dirty Delta Blues — slid through a revue of material past and present. Originals and covers alike were warm and transporting — and a rapt audience responded by not budging an inch until the end.
Juan Montoya, Otto Von Schirach, and Melt Banana, Studio A, Miami, November 19: I could just write, "any Otto Von Schirach show ..." or "any Torche [the band for which Juan Montoya wields the axe] show...," but here we got a two-fer. Plus an excellent, rarely seen headliner, the adorable noise/grindcore/punk Japanese act Melt Banana, finally played in a space larger than Churchill's!
Iggy Pop, the beach at Collins Avenue and 21st Street, Miami Beach, December 7: This year's "Art Loves Music" event on opening night of Art Basel Miami Beach was the best edition yet, featuring a set by adopted hometown guy Iggy Pop and all of the remaining Stooges. The crowd was an amazing mashup of aging rockers, little punk kids, rich collectors trying to be down, and straight-up drunks peeing in the nearby dunes. Iggy was properly shirtless, writhing, and berserk, and an adoring mob rushed the stage, making it look as though "No Fun" were performed by a gigantic sweaty pink centipede.
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