LIV
Courtesy of LIV

How can anyone fill an 18,000-square-foot club night after night after night? Ask David Grutman, the man behind Miami Marketing Group (MMG). After cutting his teeth at Tantra and the Opium Group, Grutman started MMG and later launched the Fontainebleau's LIV in 2008, creating one of the most talked-about and hard-to-access nightclubs far from the pulsating heart of South Beach. But when you have the iconic Fontainebleau as your home, it's not exactly difficult to draw the well-heeled clientele needed to sustain such a massive space. To prove he wasn't a fluke, Grutman partnered with the Fontainebleau for its second nightlife space, Arkadia, and then launched Oro Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. But his biggest success to date might be Story (136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), which is located in a troublesome spot that's seen many endeavors come and go. So far, at least, it seems to be a runaway success, borrowing cues from downtown Miami's nightlife (more relaxed door policy, riskier bookings, more dance-music-oriented) along with South Beach staples (bottle service, beautiful girls, and elegant décor). What's next for Grutman? Who knows. Whatever it is, put your money on a hit.

Metro Zu has a message for the galaxies, and it's available on all of their 39 — yes, thirty-nine — wildly experimental albums: Art over everything. Between Lofty305, Ruben Slikk, Freebase, Mr. B the Poshtronaut, and a universal gang of allies, the Zu collective has generated a rapidly accelerating interest in the sound of young Miami by reaching out and making fans through the cyberwebs and through touring the world's capitals in physical reality. Just because they rhyme words over beats doesn't make their music rap. And just because the music is electronic doesn't mean they're robots. By surfing the collective consciousness of wholly improvised lyrics on an ocean's worth of ever-shifting beats, they're creating a tsunami of musical energy that's just about to crash ashore.

It's a tough racket being a DJ in Miami. In a nightlife capital that moves to that uhntz-uhntz beat 24/7, there's bound to be a constant surplus of hungry wannabes fighting over gigs for their measly share of the limelight. Only genuine talent, hard work, and dedication set apart the pros. Take Miami clubland mainstay Jason Baez, known professionally as BAEZ. After patiently and diligently working his way up in the competitive local scene since the late 2000s, BAEZ has emerged as the go-to DJ for practically every promoter of underground house and techno nights in Miami. There are few DJ booths in town he hasn't graced, and he's opened for some of the biggest names in the game, including most recently Maceo Plex and Damian Lazarus at Club Mansion. There's also the matter of BAEZ's own Sub-Motus parties, which bring serious international bookings to Miami every month, and his budding work as a producer with releases on labels such as Wehppa and Deep Tech. In short, BAEZ has risen above the noise by being the hardest-working DJ in Miami, without ever compromising his commitment to pushing underground and cutting-edge dance music.

Gramps
Photo by Alex Markow

Finding a DJ in Miami who still hauls a crate full of vinyl from gig to gig is as rare as stumbling across a mint-condition, lost '70s funk classic wedged under your grandma's couch. But there is one DJ who won't give into the ease of Traktor, Ableton, and other spinning software. DJ Benton, AKA Benton Galgay, has an insane encyclopedic knowledge of music that comes only when someone is whole-heartedly devoted to worshipping the cult of vinyl. He's spun everywhere, from Electric Pickle to Grand Central to Bardot, but currently calls Friday nights at Gramps home. From Kraftwerk to Talking Heads to the latest DFA release, Benton's mixture of the old and new always seems to be a crowd pleaser. And while there are plenty of other DJs in the city with name recognition and aspirations of a Skrillex-level career, Benton seems perfectly content to DJ as an exercise in musical education for those within earshot. If you wander into Gramps and can't find him, don't worry: He probably just disappeared behind the decks for a moment to rummage through his crate.

Yes, Red White & Blue is a thrift shop not a record shop. That's doesn't stop it from stocking a constantly evolving, always surprising music selection for a variety of tastes. Whether there's a secret High Fidelity-esque character manning the shop's record section or it's just pure chance, Red White & Blue's vinyl seems carefully curated. You'll find everything from great jazz to rock records, and these aren't your run-of-the-mill million-sellers of the '70s and '80s or dead people's detritus from the '50s and '60s. You might just find early Stones, Beatles, and Doors albums or a rare piece of vinyl from the '90s. If you're really lucky, you'll stumble upon near-mint copies that only need a good cleaning for a pristine sound. Plus, the average price of an album is $2, though some sought-after records can go for as much as $4. That still beats $20 at a record shop. Store personnel use a permanent marker to price the records, but it's a small knock in value for the price you'll pay for quality vinyl (cash only, please). A new stack of records appears at least once a week, if not more often. (Keep this on the down-low: If you visit around 3:30 p.m., you'll be first to the prime-time restocks.) Plenty of commercial dealers and serious collectors swing by Red White & Blue to raid the vinyl (sorry, guys, the secret is out), so be prepared to throw some 'bows for those primo picks.

Grand Central

Remember the tail end of the 2000s, back when Miami was clamoring for any midsize live music venue to open? Really, when we didn't have a single one and had to drive to Fort Lauderdale for our indie music fix? Even in those dark days, we couldn't have imagined how profoundly downtown's Grand Central would answer our prayers. Grand Central has committed itself not only to showcasing live acts that would have never even considered Miami as a stop on their U.S. tours five years ago, but also to providing a common ground for our unique homegrown melting pot of musical tastes. The international talent gracing Grand Central's stage has included everything from indie Latin showstoppers like Los Amigos Invisibles to '80s legends like A Flock of Seagulls and hip-hop biggies like Cypress Hill. But perhaps most important, the venue continues to provide our hard-knock local musicians with a much-needed launching pad for the exposure they simply won't find anywhere else in town. Welcome to the future, Miami music-heads — thanks to Grand Central, it looks a hell of a lot better than the past.

Jazid

Miami Beach doesn't have a lot of small live music spaces. And no, drunk people singing karaoke at Studio at the Shelborne doesn't count. But if one spot has consistently impressed as a live music haven in South Beach, it's Jazid. Rarely do local bands cross the causeway to play live on the barrier island, but when they do, most go to perform at the bohemian space. From Lanzallamas to Jahfe to Spam Allstars to Suenalo, most local acts favor this cozy room as the go-to place to perform live on the Beach. Who can blame them? The bar has a fiercely loyal local clientele and a prime location on Washington Avenue, which attracts tourists looking for a good time. Jazid proves one thing: Even Miami Beach wants a break from the DJs and bottle service from time to time, especially when the alternative is a consistently great lineup of local musicians.

Gramps
Photo by Alex Markow

"Air conditioning. Cold beer. Cocktails." Those words grace the façade of Wynwood's newest bar, Gramps. Sure, it's nice and cold inside, and yes, there is plenty of Tecate and PBR to go around, and indeed, the expertly crafted cocktails are worth bragging about. But the sign is missing a key element: "Live music." Because there is plenty of that here too. Since December 2012, Miami's indie music scene has had a new place to belt out tunes in front of a willing audience. Local outfits such as Jacuzzi Boys, Dim Past, Beat Machines, Cop City Chill Pillars, Holly Hunt, and the Dewars have all graced the outdoor stage or backroom. And even national acts like Kool Keith and Lars Finberg of the Intelligence have stopped by. Considering that Gramps has been open only since last year's Art Basel, there's a great chance Miami will see even better live shows here in months to come. There's no better combination in town than drinking a signature Penicillin cocktail and feeling some rock bass rumbling your ear canals.

The Station

It's not often we see an authentic underground club take off in Miami. Most local nightclubs, even the big-money commercial spots in Miami Beach, end up being flashes in the pan with shelf lives shorter than a ripe avocado. But downtown Miami's the Station reeked of underground vibes right from the start. Introduced as an "art-lounge/restaurant" concept by owners Alex Saladrigas and David Silverman when opened in November 2012, it soon became apparent that people weren't flocking there simply to eat and look at paintings. Within a couple of months, word on the street was that the Station was the hottest new after-hours club in Miami — a speakeasy-like secret destination for die-hard revelers looking to keep the party going past last call, a place to catch international techno stars such as Seth Troxler and Guy Gerber playing intimate, impromptu after-hours sets announced last-minute and by word of mouth. Of course, the secret was bound to get out by the time Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week rolled around, with the venue hosting a number of high-profile parties. No matter how big the Station might get in 2013, it has already made an indelible mark on Miami's underground dance music scene.

Story Nightclub
Liliana Mora

After Amnesia's "comeback" fizzled out, Miami Marketing Group took hold of the Bob Sinclar-fronted club and shut it down for a couple of months, promising a complete overhaul. MMG kept its word, reopening the spot as Story — a name that earned some early mockery that quickly disappeared once the bookings began pouring in. Everyone from Avicii to Luciano to Seth Troxler have gotten behind the decks. The caliber of DJs has been spectacular and risky. Story seems to book a mega-wattage DJ one night and bring in an underground maestro the next. Though there's plenty of SoBe bottle service to be had, it's the risky "downtown attitude" and corresponding musical approach that have set Story apart. Trust us, this is a D-A-N-C-E club if there ever was one. Skip the couch real estate and the pricey bottles and get your ass into the pit directly in front of the DJ booth.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®