Luna Star Cafe

If you're a musician, performance artist, poet, or spoken-wordsmith, follow the map in the sky to Luna Star Cafe in North Miami, now in its 16th year of awesomeness. There you can display your talent in an open-minded open format, with a supporting cast of more than 100 cosmopolitan beers (including a Florida brew called Holy Mackerel and a Belgian one called Kwak; Coors, Heineken, and Amstel Light did not make the cut). There is also a menu that includes duck wings, crabcakes served with a key lime tartar sauce, pizzas, pastas, and Mediterranean plates. For those looking to activate sleepy corners of their creative minds before taking the stage, an espresso or gourmet coffee is a peppy choice. The open jam on Tuesdays is a laid-back event that often features local musicians playing original acoustic folk or rock, but comedians, storytellers, and others with a creative seed to sew are welcome to do so too. Not ready to strum in public? No worries. There's enough graphic art on the walls, live entertainment, fresh food, and stimulating conversation to make even wallflowers emerge from their shells. Call to make sure the schedule hasn't changed — things at Luna Star Cafe rotate like the planets.

Bardot
Courtesy of Bardot

On May 10, 2012, Laura Sutnick closed a chapter of her life. Besides matriculating at the University of Miami, she's been the iconic on-air DJ Laura (of Miami) on WVUM for the past four years. Her show, Vamos a la Playa, quickly became a Miami staple — a two-hour feature of the best in college radio. Sutnick also took her keen ear to the nightclubs, spinning regularly at places such as the Electric Pickle and Bardot. But she wasn't content to be only a DJ. With Patrick Walsh, she developed the nightlife collective and blog Nightdrive, which has attracted some of the best indie-rock and electronic acts to area venues. And it's that love of introducing the city to new music, either from behind the decks or behind the scenes, that has made Sutnick Miami's top DJ. At a time when most of our DJs are content to spoon-feed crowds the stuff they expect to hear, Laura (of Miami) has us reaching for Shazam, hoping we can figure out the name of that awesome track she's spinning. And for Vamos a la Playa fans, the show lives on at wynwoodradio.com Mondays from 2 to 4 p.m.

Julio Mejia is young, talented, local, and seemingly unstoppable. Just old enough to drink, the 21-year-old has already merked the decks onstage with great names such as Diplo, Dave Nada, Klever, and last year's best Miami DJ, Craze. Whether he's working on solo projects or with his partner Matthew Toth as half of electro duo GTA, Mejia has penned tunes that have attracted the attention of bloggers, EDM enthusiasts, and superstar DJs alike. His big break came when Dave Nada, founder of the genre, began playing his moombahton track "Move." Around the same time, GTA started working with Laidback Luke, and ever since, the requests and scene support have come in droves. He has officially remixed artists including Flosstradamus and Buraka Som Sistema. He's working on a few EPs, both as JWLS and GTA, as well as a series of rap instrumentals to be titled JWLS Is Bored. Keep an eye out for JWLS and GTA. Miami's moombah kid is doing big things.

A quick look at the Billboard charts reveals that the rest of America has finally learned something Miami figured out long ago: House music is awesome. Of course, the Magic City wasn't always so hip. Murk — the team of Ralph Falcón and Oscar G. — defined our club music culture starting with their debut in the early '90s. Separately, the Miami natives are superstar DJs with residencies and gigs across the globe. But together, under an ever-growing list of aliases, they've become house production royalty. The duo has scored seven consecutive number one hits on Billboard's club play charts. They have also remixed singles for pop stars as disparate as Madonna and RuPaul. And this past February, Defected Records released a best-of compilation for its elite House Masters series. They haven't quite reached the commercial heights of some of those new kids who are tearing up the pop charts with crossover hits, but that's only because Murk's Miami fans know the definition of real house music.

Whether they're ass-smashing Nachos Supreme with strippers, "Planking on Yo Bitch" all over South Beach, or overdosing on "Kush Smoke & Pussy" in a Miami Shores parking lot, O'Grime's L.Rey and Nikolais Javan are this city's most ridiculously rad rap team. Their YouTube vids routinely get 100,000 views. Their email inboxes are constantly flooded with nudie pics from fans of both sexes. They're even huge in Lithuania, thanks to last year's b-ball anthem, "Valanciunas (Big V Lithuanian Hero)," in honor of seven-foot phenom and fifth-overall NBA draft pick Jonas Valanciunas. But really, it all started in summer 2011 when these barely post-teen hip-hop pranksters debuted with a nine-song eponymous EP chockablock with funny, filthy tracks like "Domework," a drugged-out, dubsteppy cut about getting blowjobs while playing video games. And then it hit peak perversity just a few months ago when L.Rey and Niko finally followed up with a full-length slab — the equally horny, totally superhigh, and oh-so-swaggishly titled Pearl Necklace — whose NSFW cover art features a corseted set of boobies spattered with gobs of semen spelling out O'Grime. So yeah, they're young, wild, crazy, uncensored, and occasionally offensive. But that's how Miami has always liked its bangers — from Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew to Disco Rick, Trick, and the Baddest Bitch. We just wanna get grimy in the 305.

Bachamambo plays bachata criollo, a form of Dominican roots music that was born in country barrooms of the D.R. The style is a dance based on Dominican blues, with songs about getting drunk, losing your woman, and getting kicked out of the house. It's all set to an infectious beat that Latins call "pegajoso," as in sticky or extremely catchy. It's a guitar-driven style whose heroes are Luis Vargas, Raulín Rodríguez, and Luis Segura. The most popular song might be Luis Santos's "Corazón Culpable" ("Guilty Heart"). Bachamambo pays tribute to these greats with covers performed by the seven-piece band of guitars, bass, keyboard, tambora, timbales, and saxophone. They are six Dominicans and a Nicaraguan. Founder Raffy Quezada started the band in January 2009. You can see them live every Sunday night at Club Típico Dominicano in Allapattah, every Friday at Puerto Marino in Hialeah, and monthly at La Guira in Miami. They are available for booking and have found huge support from Hondurans and Nicaraguans, in addition to Cubans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, and gringos. There was a time when Dominican radio would not play bachata, but in the past decade it has risen to the heights of popular Latin dance alongside salsa and merengue. Every time Bachamambo hits the stage, it keeps the audience drinking and dancing to the classics till the early morning.

This 12-member mini-orchestra is perhaps the most ambitious indie music project in recent South Florida memory. Psychic Mirrors comes complete with choreographed back-up singers, horns, keys, and a unique blend of funk rhythms, electro beats, and Latin flavor that includes decidedly futuristic nods toward the past. This is a band that doesn't follow any predefined archetypes. The brainchild of Cuban-American composer Mickey de Grand IV, it delivers on all of that ambition. Tracks such as "Mystic Hustle" and "We Can Groove" sound like something from a tropical space party. Luckily you don't have to travel into orbit to catch the band live.

Most rap videos are luxurious fantasies layered on top of other wildly luxurious fantasies. We've all seen the video in which a rhyme-spitting protagonist is partying in the VIP section of the hottest club, wearing the finest clothes, drinking top-shelf liquor, and standing amid gyrating ladies — one of whom he'll probably take home later in a fine sports car. It's exciting, but nothing we can relate to. This is what makes DJ Khaled's clip for "I'm on One" stand out. It's a luxurious fantasy layered on top of, well, a pretty mundane downtown Miami lifestyle most of us know well. The song features three of the biggest rappers — Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne — but they're doing some pretty ordinary things. Drinking Four Loko on a balcony after a long night out? Yeah, we've done that. Flirting on the Metromover? Been there. After-partied in a friend's barely furnished downtown loft probably bought out of foreclosure? Check. Swerved across lanes of traffic between high-rises and pulled over by the bay to smoke a blunt? Maybe not in a Rolls like Rick Ross, but yep. Getting caught in the rain? Duh. One day when people ask us what is was like to live in Miami during this era, we'll show them this video. We just won't mention that Khaled and company made it look ten times more glamorous.

Thanks to meat-fashion enthusiast Lady Gaga, pop music is currently parked at the corner of Weird Boulevard and Glamour Drive. Travel down an alley, though, and you'll find Marlon Alarm. In his video for single "Double Diamond," ethereally beautiful, ambiguous, and asexual Alarm emerges from a trash can before pronouncing with a sneer: "Radio, listen up, play my song. I'm talented as motherfuck." In the song's video, he does his best Britney on a budget — but gives off a classic Bowie vibe. It's not quite polished enough to reach double-diamond sales status, as the name suggests, but Alarm is an exciting raw talent with a clear artistic point of view. Sadly, radio may not be playing his song anytime soon, but there's no denying he is as talented as he claims to be.

Grand Central

Miami's hipster concertgoers are pretty lax when it comes to buying tickets. Indie shows rarely sell out here. So a lot of people were left shocked in their skinny jeans when tickets for Cut Copy's September show at the relatively cavernous Grand Central were gone early. That's because it wasn't just hipsters buying tickets. Cut Copy seems to be one of those groups whose popularity cuts across the city's very separate scenes. Apparently the Australian band's dance-friendly electro-rock moves the feet of South Beach house heads, Kendall kiddy ravers, Brickell yuppies, people who wear sunglasses in clubs even when they're sober, your mom, your hairstylist, your mom's hairstylist, that chick you kind of dated but dumped because she had a laugh like Fran Drescher — you know, just about everyone who doesn't get all of their music direction from Y100. So the band added a second show the day before, which is a rarity in Miami. And it was worth it. Opening acts Midnight Magic (disco revivalists with a horn section and last summer's hottest indie club jam) and Washed Out (chillwave OGs) set the tone, but Cut Copy whipped both nights' crowds into an ecstatic frenzy with hits like "Lights & Music" and "Need You Now." The experience left audiences wanting more, and probably ensured that tickets will sell out even faster the next time the band comes through town.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®