Local quartet Black Tide has accomplished what few far-Kendall rock acts could ever even pretend to dream of doing. Within the past two years, they've been discovered by an A&R rep at a Florida music festival and been flown across the country as subjects of a major-label bidding war. They've landed a plum deal with Interscope and been duly carted off to Chicago to record a high-budget debut album. They've toured the States for half of last year's Ozzfest, hit the UK with hard-rock heavyweights Avenged Sevenfold, and then returned again to England to headline their own tour. They're heading out this summer as part of the megawatt Mayhem Tour. Can we blame them, then, for putting on hold those plans to finish high school? Yep, the old-school, thrashy metallers formerly known around the local all-ages scene as Radio boast an average age of 18. Frontman Gabriel Garcia couldn't even get a driver's license if he wanted to — the pint-size, long-haired dude with the ballsy wail is just 15 years old. He was a student at Claude Pepper — the elementary school — when he met the rest of the band, then-freshmen at Felix Varela High. Unable to legally play at most of the usual venues around town, the bandmates perfected their act by performing at house parties and the Kendall strip-mall spot Kaffe Krystal, until their first major break came at the 2006 edition of the Florida Music Festival in Orlando. Luckily they've got the chops to back it up: Light from Above, the band's first full-length, was released this past March to fanfare from national mags such as Spin and hard-rock bible Revolver. Its 11 tracks are a sucker-punch of true old-school heaviness, all Maiden'ed- and Megadeth'ed-out, a refreshing change in a sea of teenage bands wedded to their makeup kits. Forget that — the debut puts many of the peers twice their age to shame.
Exactly how much of the mysterious, greasy fellow known as José El Rey is a put-on? We don't know or care — and neither, apparently, does his rapidly growing legion of fans. His lo-fi renditions of tinkling freestyle and booming Miami bass, coupled with his flashy Miami Vice-era stage wear and rico suave sexual banter, cause unanimous commotion among the wildly mixed-up cross section of people in his audience. Old-school bros, roller rink queens, Wynwood hipsters — they all worship at the altar of this ladies'-man shaman. Seriously — so many girls jump onstage to shake their shit that El Rey's trusty security sidekick, El Tigre, often has to lay the smack down, for real. The king has scored shout-outs from Perez Hilton and a recent full-page interview in Maxim en Español, as well as an appearance (as part of the Miami Bass Warriors group) at the holy grail of local Latin culture: the Calle Ocho Festival. José El Rey loves Miami, and Miami loves him right back.
It started out silently — but violently — whispering through the speakers of local strip clubs and on in-the-know radio DJs' playlists. The voice flowing over the ridiculously hot beat declared, Shawty had them Apple Bottom jeanzzz. Then the T-Pain-crooned hook could be heard bumping out of Bentleys rolling down Ocean Drive, tricked-out Hondas roaring along Bird Road, and D'd-up Caddies cruising on NE 163rd Street. Boots with the fur. Soon the popularity of the song reached a fevered pitch and Carol City native Flo Rida was rockin' the MTV's New Year's celebration, rock prince Travis Barker was remixing the hit, and The Step Up 2 the Streets soundtrack was even getting "Low." The whole club was lookin' at her. This song, born in Hialeah-based Poe Boy Studios, broke ringtone sales records and rocked charts and iPods worldwide. She hit the flo'. Next thing you know, shawty got low low low low low low low.
With their infectious rhythms and dance-a-licious beats, Afrobeta's songs are classic yet modern, borderline underground yet so Billboard chart-friendly. Cristina "Cuci Amador" Garcia's pop sensibility resonates through a blend of bilingual proficiencies that even Shakira might covet, while Tony "Smurphio" Laurencio burns holes through his Moog keyboards with funky fire. It wouldn't be surprising to find Afrobeta writing songs for the likes of Madonna or even M.I.A. But for now, Miami is lucky to have the duo performing on a regular basis; the two are a match made in disco-house heaven.
PS14 is like the rec room that belongs to the coolest friend you had in high school (or the one with the most permissive parents). You can show up whenever, stay as long as you want (even past what would be your welcome at most other places), break things, and generally behave however you want, as long as it doesn't endanger others and you keep it within the room's confines. Plus there's a pool table, always a predictably weird cast of characters, and some great tunes you've probably never heard before. But seriously — PS14 is like an undepressing dive, where the surroundings are slightly tatty but the people are interesting and, often, cute. Maybe that disqualifies it from "dive" status and instead just makes it one of the most unpretentious, fun little holes keeping it real since before downtown was happening. Every night promises a different left-of-dial flavor, from rock en español to new electro and booty bass to forgotten rock nuggets to the infamous monthly zombie parties hosted by Notorious Nastie and Otto Von Schirach. And its, errrr, intimate size makes it feel like a private party when underground legends Little Brother and Jeru the Damaja decide to take the stage. Assholes and douchebags, stay away.
"Lemon Green Tea Martini," "Effen Black Cherry Cosmo," "Elderflower Fizz," and "Leblon Caipirinhas" are only some of the tempting concoctions luring cocktail lovers to this bar just off Lincoln Road. Already a must-stop on the gay and politico circuits, Halo Lounge is quickly becoming a favorite with straight locals looking for something a little out of the ordinary. While the drinks are colorful and complex, the bright, minimalist décor results in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. The low volume on the sound system allows you to actually listen to your date — whether you brought him along or just met him. (DJs turn up the volume a bit on the weekends, though.) The best thing at Halo might be what the place doesn't serve: a whole lot of tobacco smoke. Smokers have to saunter outside if they want a puff, while patrons inside enjoy fresh, clean air. Prices are about average for the Beach, but stumble by in the late afternoon for drink specials that will leave you thinking you landed in Cocktail Heaven.
Billy's Pub Too
Calling all beer pong masters: If you're on a quest to become the ultimate ponger, head to Billy's on Wednesday nights for the eclectic bar's weekly tournament. In addition to great prizes, there are beer specials all night long. The raucous event is one of the reasons Billy's holds a place in the hearts of many area locals. Others are its inexpensive pitchers, diverse jukebox selections, and fun clientele. Located in the heart of downtown North Miami, near the Museum of Contemporary Art, Billy's is a cheap and dirty place that has developed its own natural stink, which is what keeps regulars like 28-year-old Sabrina coming back. "You can find me and my friends on the collage of crazy pictures on the wall," says Sabrina, who has been going to the pub since she was an underage freshman in college. "And I can't say enough about the grime coating the walls, either." You can get your drink on early at Billy's, which opens at 11 a.m. every day except Sundays, when the joint opens at 1 p.m. Last call is always at 5 a.m.
Town Kitchen & Bar
South Miami is rapidly becoming like a miniature South Beach, with fancy cars, inconsiderate pedestrians, and a complete parking clusterfuck. Who's to blame? We think hot newish restaurant/bar Town started the fire. Daytime, it's ideal for an early afternoon drink-up on the weekend. By early evening it's a classy, trendy, minimalist restaurant that specializes in "global comfort food" like brick oven pizzas and yummy parmesan-truffle fries. By night it's bumpin', with crowds of trendy 20- and 30-somethings, clutching martini glasses as they spill out into the street. The food is delicious — just try the grilled Caribbean jerk churrasco steak salad, it's $15 and to die for — but we keep going back for the cocktails. Town's got a classy clientele and a wide variety of actually delicious martinis, and a big beer menu that includes Chimay and other exotic ales. Try the Towntini — a swirl of Absolut Mandarin Vodka, Cointreau, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and a mandarin orange garnish for $10. You'll feel like you've been transported to an elegant hotel on Collins Avenue, even though the glowing sign of Sunset Place hangs in the near distance.
This bar is Miami's version of the Eighties sitcom Cheers, where everybody knows your name. "This place is like a family. I know everybody in here," say Steve, a regular, as he waves to a "drinking buddy" across the bar. The vibe is friendly, the bartenders are sexy, and the pitchers are cheap ($6 domestic). Located across the street from Miami Dade College's Kendall campus, LA Sports Bar and Grill opened six months ago, where the legendary College Park Inn once stood (next to Hungry Bear subs). The bartender brags about her martini skills: "I make them with love," she says while measuring vermouth. The horseshoe-shape bar is surrounded by large plasma TV sets tuned to ESPN. Tuesday is the night for videogame players. In the restaurant area, patrons play Guitar Hero on a 100-inch TV screen. Wednesday is poker night. Thursday is biker night, when the patio becomes a scene out of some Hells Angels documentary. On Friday night, DJ Steve spins the wheels of steel. On Saturday night, a live salsa band called Grupo Select performs. And Monday — karaoke night — is the most jam-packed of them all. This bar's food is amazing: Philly cheese steaks, pizzas, and chicken wings are surprisingly delicious. And yes, she makes a damn good martini.
The Vagabond
Somewhere between lounge, bar, and club sits The Vagabond, a lovably comfy new hangout in the old I/O space on NE 14th St. This is a place with a mission statement unlike no other in town: Everybody is welcome here as long as they dance and have a good time. Just see the club's official slogan: "You are no one. You are every one." Rock kids can come in scruffy Converse sneakers; house heads can show up to jam without worrying about not having an asymmetrical haircut. That's because there's a vibe for everyone in this indoor/outdoor playground, from the mod-futuristic main room to the bohemian-styled front bar to the urban-tiki weirdness of the back patio. The soundtrack can be anything from a mix of cutting-edge dance sounds to throwback soul to garage rock to all of the above, depending on the hour of the evening and the mood of the crowd. Prices, too, are superrelaxed: Well drinks go for $6, a better deal than at the bar's downtown neighbors. Chilled-out and familiar but still fresh and funky, The Vagabond feels like ... well, home.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®