Bar 721
In South Beach's hetero-dominated nightlife scene, the choices are almost endless and hot spots change more often than a straight guy switches his plaid boxers. But gay nightlife on the island has become rather staid over the past decade. Score and Twist are still the rage, but sometimes you have to go 721. Thankfully, after more than a year in business, this place seems to have some staying power. Filling the former Laundry Bar space, it's chic without trying too hard. Unless it's supercrowded, it usually feels intimate but not claustrophobic. It also boasts a pool table, an anomaly among gay bars in Miami. Sometimes the Gaga-dancing hordes come out in full force, while other times it feels more like a bar that just happens to attract a gay clientele. It's a nice change of pace and another recent addition to Miami Beach that reasserts the town as a gay-friendly place to live, play, and visit.
Grand Central
Miami needed a midsize venue. After Studio A's closure in 2008, it was evident. The city lacked an adequate place to host midlevel national acts that dare to trek to the farthest reaches of the Florida peninsula. The only alternative was Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live or Culture Room, but it was unfathomable to think that a major metropolitan city like Miami couldn't have its own music venue of similar size. So it was with much joy that everyone welcomed Grand Central into the fold when it debuted during Winter Music Conference 2010. Nite Jewel of Italians Do It Better and Brooklyn's Tanlines popped the venue's live-music cherry, and since then, acts such as Major Lazer, Kid Sister, Nitzer Ebb, Surfer Blood, the Drums, Crystal Castles, Sleigh Bells, and Golden Filter have performed in front of the venue's signature LED curtain. Local acts have performed too — among them Afrobeta, Jacuzzi Boys, Modernage, Little Beard, and Old Wives Tale. Getting tanked ain't cheap, though. Well drinks cost $9. But the price includes auto-gratuity — that's right, you don't have to leave extra dollars for a tip. Also, check into Foursquare for regular drink specials.
The Stage
Known the world over as a dance capital — what with Winter Music Conference and all — Miami sometimes gets a bad rap for being a tough town in which to produce live music. But anybody making this claim fails to consider the ever-growing wellspring of musical talent, and new venues that blossom to support our artists — venues such as the Stage in the Design District, which opened this past February and has since been home to more than its share of both local and out-of-town performers. This isn't your run-of-the-mill bar. The stylishly decorated and comfortably appointed space seems to sprawl around a center stage that's surrounded by works from local artists. And the lush back patio with a clear view of the stage is not too shabby either. The Stage claims its goal is to "fuse the long-running traditions of live music, laid-back coffeehouse cool, and the present-moment awareness of a live theatrical venue." It's off to a hell of a start.

Best Endangered Venue to Beat the Extinct List

Transit Lounge

Transit Lounge
It was a scary moment when we heard this most hallowed of live music and boozing institutions was closing its doors after ten years of serving up some of South Florida's most memorable performances. Then came the news that owner Will Edwards had saved the day by purchasing the land so he could keep the spot open. Thank Dios. Some of SoFla's favorite acts have graced either the corner stage or the fairly recent outdoor patio stage. Or both. From Locos por Juana to Spam Allstars to ArtOfficial, and Lanzallamas to Conjunto Progreso to Suenalo, Transit has been a home to music in Miami. And that's to say nothing of the many out-of-town bands that have visited the space, including Pinker Tones, all the way from Spain, and Palenke Soultribe from the West Coast. New Times and its readers raise a glass to you, Transit Lounge. We're glad you dodged the bullet.
A hip-hop group might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think Best Band. But why the hell not? ArtOfficial is nothing if not that — both a full-fledged band and some of the best musicians the 305 has to offer. Keyboardist Danny Perez, bassist Ralf Valencia, and saxophonist Keith Cooper lay down the live instrumentation: supple and seductive grooves that bob and weave among styles ranging from jazz to funk to rock. Meanwhile, MCs Logics and Newsense deliver deft and swift vocals, giving those jazzy rhythms their finely honed hip-hop edge. The five-piece has been earning well-deserved acclaim both locally and beyond ever since the release of its 2007 debut EP, Stranger, drawing comparisons to the Roots, and dropping music as far as Japan (2008's Fist Fights & Foot Races, which was released stateside in January). The time has come to crown ArtOfficial Best Band right here in its hometown.
Plains isn't one of the most prolific bands on the local circuit. Rather than flood the blogosphere with a million throwaway tracks, they drop a few at a time and prefer to release physical product on seven-inch vinyl. And rather than slog through the same five clubs weekend after weekend, they spread out their shows, but make each one memorable. Part of that, though, is because the members have plenty going on outside the band. Frontman Michael McGinnis, the heart of the group, is an engineer and stable artist at Honor Roll Music. Guitarist Jorge Graupera is an axe man for hire who has played in other lauded local acts such as the Brand. Bassist Jared McKay is half of the duo behind underwater artists Coral Morphologic. And finally, drummer Michael-John Hancock hails from ANR. When any of them can't make it, others in the band's extended family have subbed in, such as Jorge Rubiera of Animal Tropical and Can't Stop. When the core lineup manages to get together in the same place, it's worth it. Plains' shambling blend of distorted guitar pop harks back to the college-rock radio days of old, when indie meant rock and the Big Muff was the pedal du jour. It's something not heard much around these parts, but when it is, it's welcome — quality over quantity, folks.
Meet our pick for Best Latin Band: Suenalo. What's that, you already know it? Of course you do. Hell, even if you've spent the past ten years living under a rock, if that rock sits in Miami-Dade County, this local ensemble has gotten a party cranking within earshot of your geological habitat at some point or another. And we're not choosing it as the best because it's hands down one of the hardest-working bands on the scene. It's because nobody busts la rumba like these dudes. New Times issues you this challenge: Catch them performing live anytime, anywhere you choose. Then try to not let your hips move and your ass shake. Good luck with that one. Suenalo's signature blend — funk, reggae, Latin jazz, hip-hop, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and electronic elements, among others — is the quintessential embodiment of Miami as melting pot. And the band's irresistibly infectious descargas provide the perfect soundtrack with which to celebrate the harmonious melding of differences.
Take coarsely chopped pieces of cumbia, reggae, merengue, ska, and salsa. Stir in fresh-picked funk and soul covered in Spanish and English lyrics. Sprinkle in a dash of rock and just a little more R&B and hip-hop. Take a megasize spatula and work in some decorative dancehall. And just for the hell of it, because you're feeling kind of crazy, throw in some kuduro from Angola and a bit of jazz. Now set the blender to "driving-down-the-highway-smoking-a-blunt-on-a-supersunny-day." Serve immediately.
On a hot, sweaty night in late 2007, two dudes named Julio and Gordo were killing time in Coconut Grove's Kennedy Park, joking, smoking, and guzzling a toxic cocktail of Olde English and orange juice that's known to a certain kind of boozer as a Brass Monkey. Just a few days earlier, their band DIE-AREA had broken up. And that was a major bummer. But straight away, they decided to start up another crew for the purposes of playing what Gordo likes to call "pissed-off fast music." The plan was nothing fancier than vox, drums, and guitars. Julio would handle the screaming. Gordo would beat the gong. And their friend Alex would choke the chords out of a mangled guitar. All they needed now was a truly brutal moniker. So the dudes began playing word games, riffing on Gordo's initials — GP — and tossing out random matches. There was Giant Panda, Gay Parade, Gonorrhea Precaria, Grammy Panties, Giant Pterodactyl, and Google Porn. By far, though, the raddest result of this drunken exercise was still to come. As Gordo now recalls: "Someone mentioned Gorilla Pussy, and we just couldn't stop laughing." Thus, Miami's most obscenely bestial band name was born. And although Julio has left Miami and been replaced by a singer named Raw Beef, Gorilla Pussy rages on.
Beelzebub's Cave
Enter Beelzebub's Cave. It's the underground home of local heavy-tuneage heroes Jean Saiz, Janette Valentine, and Felipe Torres, a threesome otherwise known as Shroud Eater. They sleep here. They practice here. And as the Cave's official Facebook page says, they "throw parties and call them shows." It's a bare-bones, BYOB situation where you'll get mashed and mangled by local doom crews such as Masticator, Slashpine, Hollow Leg, and Ether — not to mention the gatekeepers themselves and a whole cast of marauding heavy-metal highwaymen from all over these dark, dangerous United States of America. Above the entryway, a pair of skeletons stripped clean of human flesh holds a banner bearing the words of William Shakespeare: "Hell is empty and all the devils are here." And slapped onto the backside of the main gate is a poster of a skull wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar. It's emblazoned with the warning: "No assholes, dicks, or pussies allowed!" In other words, this is a hard-core spot. So don't show up unless you're prepared to head-bang your way into a coma.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®