Best Rock Band 2023 | Palomino Blond | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo by Nicole Miller

Local venues where rock bands can play might come and go (sadly, it has been mostly the latter), but the highly adaptable Palomino Blond have continued to find places to play their dreamy feedback-laden rock since 2018. Comprising singers and guitarists Carli Acosta and Kyle Fink, drummer Emma Arevalo, and bassist Peter Allen, this Kendall shoegaze outfit has meshed the quiet with the loud reminiscent of a next-gen Smashing Pumpkins or My Bloody Valentine. In 2021, Palomino Blond's debut album, ontheinside, captured the band's grungy blissful aesthetic in seven songs that left you longing for an eighth. Don't worry — the band never goes more than a couple of months without announcing a new local show.

Formed in 2015, Jah Steve & the Counteract Crew crisscross the Sunshine State for their bread-and-butter shows, including regular gigs at the Original Fat Cats in Fort Lauderdale and Ginger Bay Cafe in Hollywood. But touring with legend Lee "Scratch" Perry solidified this South Florida band's bona fides as a top-tier roots reggae ensemble. The band's vibes are reminiscent of Bob Marley, Augustus Pablo, Peter Tosh, Tenor Saw, and other reggae icons. Frontman and bassist Steve McGowan leads the five-member group that also includes brothers Doron and Jadon Clarence, guitarist Bennie Jackson, and drummer Basil "Benbow" Creary, who has appeared on more than 50 studio albums for artists such as Yabby You, Dennis Brown, and The Skatalites.

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Ever since Vanesa Perez was little, she enjoyed playing piano and writing. Nearly two decades later, the Cuban-American artist has become a one-woman show performing in local venues. The singer-songwriter wears many genre caps, and her sound exists somewhere in the middle of the indie pop, alternative rock, house, and soul Venn Diagram. Her lyrics lean on vulnerability, and often touch upon themes of changing identity, rejection, and staying true to one's true self. She's already released several singles — "Wake Up and Find Peace" and "VIP VIA" — but has announced that she's putting together her first EP.

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Whether with his four-man-band Juke or solo as Uncle Scotchy, Eric Garcia is a seasoned performer and no stranger to the stage. But The Blues Opera presented a new challenge. With the help of the Juggernaut Theatre Company, Garcia invited audience members into a facsimile of a Little Havana home, where he performed songs that recounted the emotional turbulence he endured when he served as the caregiver to his aging parents until they died. It was a tightrope-walk of a show that aimed to touch hearts and entertain ears. File this one under "Mission Accomplished" — the show's closing date kept getting pushed back in response to popular demand.

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Cedric Brazle is bringing begging back to R&B. We're not referring to the panhandling kind; we mean the "on bended knee" strain of R&B pleading that used to spark romance between potential lovers or revive a relationship. A Jacksonville native, Brazle grew up in a musical family — his uncle was a Calypso singer — and decided to pursue music full-time while attending Florida Atlantic University. After years of cutting his teeth in the local R&B scene, the budding artist recently released a six-song EP, ...What I Know Now, as an extension of his 2020 EP If I Knew Then.... With feathery harmonies, vulnerable lyricism, and seductive crooning, Brazle's new tracks feature all the trademarks of traditional R&B, as he confesses his romantic pitfalls on "Product of Love," assumes responsibility on "My Fault," and sings with a flirtatious falsetto on "Sexy Lady." "Everything I've done has been off the backs of artists who are in Miami," Brazle says. "Whether it was a concert piece or performance, I've always collaborated with people who live here. I wouldn't be able to build anything if it wasn't for the talent that's here."

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Hit 'em deep in the heart and keep 'em moving: That's the name of Nii Tei's game. The Ghana-born DJ moved to Miami a decade ago, but his inspiration from home never faded. Merging electronic music with Afro influences, Nii Tei produces a sound that adds oomph to any set. Tei's hypnotic sets sucker-punch the crowds at Club Space, Floyd, Eagle Room, and the local party series Coconut Groove. His modus operandi is one part homage to dance culture and one part devotion to the sounds of his youth. The new father took a short break but he's back and he's not hard to miss: round eyeglasses, a big smile, and a head that bops up and down to the music he spins oh, so well.

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Every Saturday night, Red Rooster's pool hall, the Shrine, pulsates with a fusion of Afrobeat, Amapiano, and Caribbean rhythms so hypnotic that by midnight the dance floor's completely packed with gyrating bodies. It's all thanks to Cameroon-born Aya (Leslie "Aya" Ayafor) who's often perched inside the DJ booth manning the 1s and 2s. Ayafor credits Kwaito, a subgenre of South African house music from the '90s, for influencing his signature sound, which has become a crucial note in Miami's diasporic nightlife scene. You can also catch him at his monthly party, Stamped. "It feels great to offer a space where it's unapologetically African," Aya says. "Stamped is not just a party. It's a community. It's a celebration of not only African music, but everything African."

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There's a new club in town. Don't worry — you don't have to dish out $3,000 for a table. At Domicile, a threadbare venue nestled deep in Little Haiti, $20 for a ticket is usually all you need to drip sweat from every pore until 5 a.m. surrounded by punks, goths, depraved ravers, and photophobic creatures of the night. The median BPM runs close to 140 inside, but there's an area out back to chill out and water is reasonably priced. The club has hosted techno's dark royalty, including Rebekah and Aadja, making it a long-awaited home for DJs who spin too fast for anywhere else. Fair warning: Domicile is usually 18-plus, but mixing with kids is a small price to pay (did we mention the price of admission?) for an authentic warehouse-club aesthetic in this skyscraper-plagued city.

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Sister System (Alexis Sosa-Toro), True Vine (Santiago Vidal), and Jonny From Space (Jonathan Trujillo) have been painting the town with ad hoc parties throughout Miami and even the Everglades. But the trio's monthly residency at Floyd, dubbed ODD (as in Objects Don't Dance), features the underground's best sound cache of downtempo, left-field, psychedelic, and techno, including Danny Daze, Ben UFO, and Aurora Halal, with prime spots from locals. LED tube lights are installed for each party in a different pattern that flickers and bounces across the ceiling in sync with the music, imbuing the flowery, pink space with a dark and eerie vibe. The objects might not dance, but the people sure do.

Perreo Galáctico is an amorphous, shape-shifting party. It pops up in a new venue and with a different theme biweekly, but the one crucial constant is the thunderous blast of Daddy Yankee, Wisin y Yandel, Rauw Alejandro, and other reggaeton legends. This traveling Latin bash was started by TikTok sensation Karen Ponce; previous perreo themes have included Y2K, emo night, cowboys, and aliens. For the scoop on where they're popping up next, check the Instagram account. You can reserve tickets ahead of time or buy them at the door.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®