Mild temperatures and cloudy skies greeted the crowds Saturday afternoon as they walked onto the sand adjacent to the North Beach Bandshell. By the entrance, a large tent held about a dozen stalls offering food and drinks from top Miami purveyors. About 500 feet south of the large tent stood the only stage.
FM Festival's mission is noble: to elevate festival food while delivering a quality musical lineup. After all the "FM" in the fest's name stands for "Food & Music." For the most part, FM succeeded. With headliners such as Hot Chip, Bomba Estéreo, and Ghostface Killah, the fest was predicted to live up to its promise.
On the food side, Ariete, Fooq's, Coyo Taco, K Ramen, and others hoped to match the quality of the music onstage. Coyo was the most popular stall; it had the most varied menu. And Ariete's chorizo frita sold out hours before the 11 p.m. curfew. The most perplexing offering was K Ramen, which served salmon poke instead of its namesake, which would have been welcome in the postsunset chill.
There were no complaints when it came to the music. I arrived just as producer Arthur Baker, who these days calls Miami home, gave the festival a lesson in disco. Amtrac followed with a set that included plenty of his own material, such as "Those Days," and closed with the amazingly cheesy but equally awesome "What Is Love" — made exponentially more famous by Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night at the Roxbury.
Slow Magic followed. Instead of sitting behind a multitude of controls, he seemed to play up the live-drumming aspect that is a signature at his shows. His neon mask illuminated the dark grounds as the stage lights pulsated behind him. Toward the end of his set, he jumped into the crowd, as he's known to do.
Despite having released its sixth album, Why Make Sense?, relatively recently, in 2015, Hot Chip had a set list heavy on fan favorites. The band kicked off immediately with "And I Was a Boy From School," the track that probably introduced most of the audience to the band. The hits kept coming with "One Life Stand," "Over and Over," "Flutes," "Huarache Lights," and "Ready for the Floor."
Musically, FM delivered a strong start to what I hope becomes an annual festival. However, if it plans to live up to its name, more food offerings should be the top priority at next year's edition. There are only so many daiquiris an audience can drink before making regrettable decisions.