John Gregory II, the not-so-jerky guy known as Somejerk, isn't exactly a new face on the local underground electronic music scene. But only in recent months has he finally garnered his deserved accolades. He is no dubstep trendy-come-lately. Rather, he boasts roots in the earlier genre form that produced dubstep: drum 'n' bass. While d'n'b fizzled out and everyone moved on to cornier music, though, Somejerk kept mining the low end and biding his time. Then he began quietly releasing his own dubstep mixes and productions. These days, he stands apart from the crowd by not always going for the heavy rinse-outs. Instead, Somejerk sometimes bombs the bass. Then he wanders into the subtler points of a surprisingly variable genre. Either way, we're always happy to go along for the sonic journey.
Casa Tua
It is exclusive, extravagant, and posher than any other karaoke party in Miami. But if you can make it upstairs to the second floor of Casa Tua's private club on a Wednesday evening, you'll be in for a helluva night. Here, socialites, minor European royalty, and celebrities belt out international classics such as "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Volare." Botoxed singers are accompanied by a drummer and a DJ, who keep the caterwauling at bay. One night, we witnessed Emilio Estefan take over the bongos. The talkative crowd didn't seem too excited about this impromptu jam session, but we rocked out to his Latin beat. Upstairs, other famous patrons have included Marisa Tomei, George Hamilton, Boris Becker, and Priscilla Presley. No word on whether they participated in karaoke night. The décor is sumptuous and reminiscent of a chic nightclub in Italy, and the visitors are truly international. Drinks are crazy-expensive, and there is a gourmet lounge menu (caviar, anyone?), but the real draw to this members-only space is watching drunken blue bloods tackle karaoke after too much gin. And like karaoke anywhere in the world, pretty it ain't. That's probably why Casa Tua hosts this soirée only once a week.
The Fish House
In a drab Kendall strip mall, right in front of Porky's Gym II, hides a jazz open-mike night that would make WLRN stalwart Len Pace proud. Every Thursday, a different South Florida jazz band jams until midnight on the stage in the backroom of this Cuban seafood joint. By 7 p.m., the nautically-themed room fills with goateed guys sporting berets and carrying harmonicas in their pockets. No reservations needed, and no cover at the door. Better yet, no signup for the open mike. Papa Joe, the avuncular musical director, rules the jazzy alcove like a benevolent overlord. When he sees a regular who can sing, or someone who's brought an instrument, he'll invite them up to jam. And the food is cheap too: The late-night menu includes 99-cent garlic bread, two-for-one $3 Buds, and $7.99 chicken wings. All of that would be enough to set the Fish House apart from every other open-mike in the county, but it actually hosts two other nights: Wednesday is reserved for rock, and Mondays for blues.
The average man is a fragile creature cursed with an overactive inferiority complex. And guys who happen to be comics are even worse. So when they run into a chick who's better than they are in almost every way, it's like dream date and nightmare all rolled into one. Meet local lady standup Jessica Gross. She's almost six feet tall. She's pretty. She's funny. And if that isn't enough to force her male cohorts into paroxysms of fear and pleasure mixed, Ms. Gross is also a brutal truth-teller. She out-dudes the dudes, running the show at the Miami Improv and Sweat Records' Casa de Haha while tossing off jokes about hilariously dumb stuff like poop, midget boyfriends, and half-assed karaoke. She'll even let all of you bros know you're nothing but a tool to tickle her urinary tract infection: "And you thought that pretty lady with the pink drink was bumping and grinding on you 'cause she liked you. Nope, she was working a scratch out on your leg." Tall, cute, zany, and possibly afflicted with a UTI... Where does Jessica Gross go from here? Network effing sitcom. Or at the very least a Vagisil commercial.
Purdy Lounge
Are you one of those people who love doing their Tony Montana imitation for friends at parties — even though it's essentially butchering an already butchered rendition of a Cuban accent? Perhaps you have or at one point had a poster of Al Pacino's pivotal antihero gracing your walls. Or maybe it's a lifelong dream to seamlessly work into conversation a line such as "Manolo. Choot dis piece of chet!" Well, if any (or heaven forbid, all) of the aforementioned describes you, there's really only one place you should spend your time imbibing. And that's the northwest-of-SoBe institution Purdy Lounge. Head to the backroom and enjoy your tequila shots or Jäger bombs to the vista of Frank Lopez's iconic palm trees and sunset wallpaper while listening to everything from current hip-hop to the B-52s' "Love Shack." Ask for Steve-O, Dan, or Cary, all of whom are the shiznit.
The Fillmore Miami Beach
Photo by Jason Koerner
Three years ago, concert promoting giant Live Nation took over the historic Jackie Gleason Theater, celebrating the opening with a concert by Ricky Martin. Though there was some initial grumbling about the theater's corporate control — and its choice of a first act — most skepticism has fallen away. While the new Fillmore Miami Beach preserved the exterior of the old Gleason Theater, on the inside, it is a distant relative to the old venue. This new version is darker and sexier, a place where you might actually want to hang out rather than suffer through yet another production of The Nutcracker with Grandma. Where some acts would previously have been routed north to Broward County, they have been trickling into the Fillmore instead. In fact, just during the past six months, the venue's booking has really begun to cook, with names such as Wilco, Band of Horses, and the Arctic Monkeys all playing in a spectacular April.But the future of the Fillmore hangs in the balance. Miami Beach commissioners have agreed to hear a proposal that would raze the theater and turn it into yet another hotel. At the same time, Live Nation posted a loss again on the venue — and that might repeat next year. A grassroots campaign is underway on Facebook; search for the group Save the Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater. Music and culture fans of all stripes are banding together to sway Beach commissioners. If the hotel plan is approved, it would be a major blow to both historic preservationists and those with hopes for Miami's position as a music hub.
In a splintered local musical climate, Day-Glo duo Afrobeta is beloved by all. The band can credit some of that to its members' varied musical pedigrees. The duo's instrumental mastermind, Tony Smurphio, has tickled the ivories for Latin-scene staples such as Suenalo and Bacilos, and even Pitbull. Frontwoman Cuci Amador has earned major hipster cred with her cartoonish style and has even laced a track for reggaeton group Calle 13. Then add sonic confections that straddle many genres and spin them into something futuristic. Sometimes Smurphio's synth lines squiggle and thud with the best vibrations of Miami bass; other times they head for a sweeter, almost radio-friendly electro lite. Amador goes for sassy, almost-rap spitfire; then lets out a freestyle-esque, lovelorn sob; and then goes for all-out next-wave pop princess. No matter the direction of individual songs, though, it all comes together in a sweet form that goes down easy and makes locals proud that the band continues to rep Miami in ever-widening global circles.
The band's name is short, simple, sun-fried, and sweetly sinister — just like its brand of raucous punk rock 'n' roll. While other local bands trying for memorable names head for puerility and overcomplication, succinctness is often best.
The Down Home Southernaires were rightfully beloved around town, with a truly multiculti blend of sounds that drew in the usual hipsters as well as other curious global sonic tourists. The group tackled swamp-rock, Afrobeat, gospel, soul, and even country with equal aplomb. It boasted the kind of catchy, sing-song vocals that could recall New and No Wave greats such as Talking Heads. Still, nothing gold can stay, and eventually the band, which had become a regular fixture at nearly every show at places including the now-defunct PS14, fizzled. Or so it seemed. What they were really doing was devising a master plan. The band was quietly reborn late last year as Animal Tropical. It's basically the same lineup, but with a new name and a new, sweeping ambition. Animal Tropical is now officially based in both Miami and New York, flying back and forth between cities in the hopes of playing more shows. It seems to be working. They have played local events such as Cinema Sounds and Sweat Records' five-year anniversary party. So consider it not a breakup but a breakthrough.
Sweat Records
Paolo Santosuosso
Sweat Records' five-year anniversary, dubbed Sweatstock, was certainly cause for celebration. In a city that hardly rewards independents, the continued success of the little-record-store-that-could is a symbol of hope for both the music retail business and Miami entrepreneurship. Thanks to the store's constant booster efforts for the local scenes, everyone has only good feelings about it, and every micro-scene converged on Sweat's fifth birthday party, held in the short, closed-off block adjacent to the store. For one day, crust punks, bicycle nuts, dance club hipsters, underground hip-hop lovers, freaks, and squares alike enjoyed a relaxed day of the best in local entertainment, fueled by cheap beer, cheap food, and a peaceful vibe. Things got progressively more rambunctious as the evening wore on, though, capped off by a set by the visiting punkish L.A. duo No Age, which incited dancing so feverish that various wires came unplugged every few minutes. It was a gleeful in-your-face to all the naysayers who write off the city's possibilities for live music and community-building.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®