Best Intimate Music Venue 2018 | The Ground | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Karli Evans

Being a music fan in Miami can be hard if your favorite genre isn't house, techno, or EDM. Much-loved venues such as Grand Central often pass on simply because Miami's geographic isolation makes it difficult for certain acts to schedule a tour stop in South Florida. When Club Space opened its ground floor as a live music space called the Ground, it made a much-needed impact. Now metal bands, up-and-coming rappers, R&B acts, and even experimental percussion ensembles are playing at the 555-capacity venue alongside unconventional DJs. Downtown Miami isn't just for dance music anymore.

Courtesy of CMX

If you're the type of unpretentious film fan who didn't make a beeline for the "Best Arthouse Cinema" category, you'll probably enjoy Brickell City Centre's CMX theater. It's a high-end experience for people who feel no shame about their excitement for the latest Disney-Marvel-Star Wars CGI-explosion slugfest. This is the place to go to make an event out of an event movie. Amenities include blankets and pillows, high-end audio and projection, portable caption devices for non-English speakers and the hearing impaired, and in-theater food service — because why should you have to miss Black Panther's latest battle to go order some jalapeno poppers?

Iwan Baan

Last year, just in time for Art Basel, the ICA Miami reopened in its new permanent location, an immaculate metal-faced building in the ritzy Design District, just a stone's throw from Tom Ford and Maison Margiela. Its debut exhibition, "The Everywhere Studio," featured work by artistic heavyweights such as Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Yves Klein. While the art world can often seem elitist and impenetrable, the ICA is different. It comes down to a single policy: The museum does not charge admission. Simply provide your email address and take in three floors of world-class art, as well as a backyard sculpture garden. The works you'll see are not only made by artists with blockbuster names. ICA also includes conceptual pieces from rising international artists, as well as work from local, regional, and immigrant artists. At a time when museums elsewhere are making access to art more difficult, this small Miami museum is taking an egalitarian approach.

Photo by Karli Evans

Before 2017, III Points was a small, forward-thinking, yet continually troubled festival. Its lineups, mixing together local talent with major underground names such as Flying Lotus and Earl Sweatshirt, were among the best in North America. But issues plagued the fest, especially in 2016, when Hurricane Matthew nearly slammed into the city and forced headliners LCD Soundsystem to cancel. Cut to last year's festival: A massive crowd packed in front of the main stage at Mana Wynwood sings along with Damon Albarn of Gorillaz as he belts his way through "Plastic Beach." In a city maligned for its connection to EDM and lowest-common-denominator thrills, III Points has become an institution that champions unconventional regional and international artists of all stripes.

Photo by Koury Angelo

Club Space has long been known for its all-night parties and famous terrace. But you might not be aware of this record label started by local impresario David Sinopoli and rebooted last year by electronic producer Nick Leon. You might assume, given its namesake club's reputation, that Space Tapes releases dance music records. But a Space Tape doesn't sound like Club Space — it sounds like outer space. Its small but growing collection of releases from artists such as Get Face, Austin Paul, and Leon himself traverse the stars, mixing ambience, bass, and other alien sounds. This isn't like any music that has come out of Miami before. Space Tapes may produce locally, but they're thinking cosmically.

© Dara Friedman, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York

Dara Friedman's most famous short film, Dancer, shows dozens of Miamians dancing across the city. They step, grind, pirouette, slide, and tumble on bridges, under overpasses, against building walls, and even atop skyscrapers. It was one of many films featured in "Perfect Stranger," a retrospective of Friedman's work featured at Pérez Art Museum Miami that confirmed her lasting importance to the city's art legacy. Ironically, what makes her art so essential is us — the people of Miami. In films such as Dancer and Government Cut Freestyle, we are the art — she's only holding up a mirror.

Courtesy of Republic Record

In the druggy, seedy world of SoundCloud rap, nothing is certain. Your favorite rapper could be riding high (figuratively and literally) one day and be felled by a disappointing song or sexual assault scandal the next (the latter is unfortunately common). For now, out of all the Floridian artists riding the SoundCloud wave, Ski Mask the Slump God is on top for two reasons. First, he is an undeniably talented rapper. His cartoon-referencing wordplay is clever, and his speed and technical proficiency are close to that of fast-rap legends such as Twista and Busta Rhymes. For another, he actually seems focused on growing his career, putting out consistent projects, working with video director Cole Bennett and the Asian artists of 88rising, and distancing himself from the popular-yet-toxic, domestic-abuse-accused XXXTentacion. Time will tell, but this guy could make it.

The Jewish philosopher Maimonedes wrote that one of the highest levels of charity is giving anonymously. Less righteous is when the donor makes themselves known, rendering the act egotistical rather than for its own sake. Drake, who is Jewish, obviously opted for the latter choice in his "God's Plan" video, in which he blesses the University of Miami, Miami Senior High School, and several random people all over the city, with serious stacks of cash. "The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away," the opening caption boasts. Here's the thing: Jewish people are supposed to be charitable. It's a religious obligation to give to others — you could say it's part of "God's Plan." But did Drake really have to make a massive spectacle out of it? Maybe. It brings to mind the words of another great philosopher named Sheryl Crow: "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad." Drake made a lot of people happy that day, and for better or worse, we have the video evidence.

Let this forever be known as the scene that officially turned Miami into Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The date: March 11, 2018. The location: the eternally busy intersection of NE 36th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. A silver Infiniti has T-boned another car. The driver tries to take off, lurching away from the scene even as his front bumper hangs off the car like a half-clipped toenail. The other motorists, however, won't allow it. They get out of their cars and approach, screaming, "¡No te muevas!" The Infiniti continues its slow crawl, dragging its grill on the ground all the while. Two cars block him as he drives west on 36th Street, and a crowd grows. They bang on his windows and demand he take responsibility. Then, unbelievably, a bystander whips out a damn ball-peen hammer. He bangs it against the car's windows, attempting to smash them. The driver somehow slips through the blockade and speeds away, but not for long. Police detain him and note he is "high on narcotics" in the arrest report. The hero with the hammer, however, remains at large.

Sometimes it's fun to wonder what Miami would be like if people didn't associate it with cocaine. We might be known for the arts, or our sports legacy, or as a mosaic of immigrant communities. There's comfort in knowing that when the viral video of now-former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster hoovering three big ol' lines of cocaine was released in October, it was for a good reason. After team ownership reneged on promises to allow Dolphins players to kneel in protest of police violence during the National Anthem, a Las Vegas-based model named Kijuana Nige uploaded it in retribution. "Last little bit before I go to my meeting," Foerster says to his former girlfriend, adding, "I wish I was licking this off your pussy." And we wish you would've laid off the skiing and focused more on your football players while you were with us, Chris.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®