Asaf Avidan, Black Violin, and Carnaval on the Mile 2014

Carnaval on the Mile

With Asaf Avidan, Black Violin, Brass-a-holics, Grupo Fantasma, and others

Miracle Mile, Coral Gables

Sunday, March 2, 2014

"It's just me playing music. I'm not going to ask anyone to holler. I'm not going to ask anyone to make noise. I'm just going to play some songs."

Those were the first few words from Asaf Avidan, one of this year's headlining musical acts at Carnaval on the Mile.

Little did he know how much Coral Gables' Carnaval crowd truly appreciated his presence that afternoon as he serenaded them with his ballad blues.

See also: Asaf Avidan on New Album Different Pulses and "Why I Decided to Go Back to Basics"

There were a number of other performers who joined Avidan throughout the weekend to celebrate this year's Carnaval season in the Gables. And the styles present across the fest's three stages ranged from Latin funk to instrumental hip-hop.

See also: Carnaval on the Mile 2014 (Slideshow)

On the Douglas Road stage, acts like Brass-a-holics and Grupo Fantasma held it down.

The latter delivered an extremely dynamic performance as one of the many Latin-infused acts on the Carnaval bill. Singing in both English and Spanish, the nine-piece outfit put on a rhythmic display that kept the vibes alive in the early afternoon sun, with original tracks like "Bacalao con pan" and "Gimme Some."

Brass-A-Holics followed, bringing a New Orleans sound to the streets of Coral Gables.

On stage, there was trumpet, trombone, alto sax, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, bongos, cowbells, and much more. The group maintained the high energy of the previous act, tossing off instrumental covers of tracks like "Roar" by Katy Perry and "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.

Black Violin, one of the other headlining acts, followed Asaf Avidan on the Heineken stage. The classically trained duo captured listeners with its instrumental hip-hop as the sun went down on Sunday evening.

The pair played various tracks off 2012 album, Classically Trained, including "Rock Anthem," "A-Flat," and "Virtuoso," all flawlessly performed by Kev Marcus on violin and Wil B. on viola. Joining the Florida natives on stage were cellist Joe Cello, Beatdown on drums, and turntablist DJ TK.

But Avidan was the true highlight of this year's Carnaval on the Mile.

His one-hour set was indeed an emotionally charged performance, as expected. The singer's falsetto tones carry a jagged edge that cuts deep.

"Music is a language and you can use it anyway you want," he told the crowd.

Equipped with an array of instruments, from his guitar to the kazoo and even a few mystery music-making objects, Avidan's live show does wonders for his already stunningly captivating music.

While it seemed that most of the audience was somewhat unfamiliar with Avidan's back catalog, it was clear by the end of the performance that everyone had connected with him on a visceral level beyond mere sing-alongs.

After about three songs, Avidan politely introduced himself, not as a musician but as a human being who experiences love and loss and everything in between, just like everyone else. Telling how he became a musician at the age of 19 after a breakup, he casually accompanied his narrative with the weeping strokes of his guitar as he told the story of this "geological love" that laid the foundation for his career.

His words echoed, detailing the tragic love story in a poetic prose that shed light on the meaning behind many of his downhearted lyrics, comparing its course to the shifting of tectonic plates through time.

Floating down a stream of love into an ocean of heartbreak, Avidan introduced his next song, "This Cool," the first song he ever wrote.

He then closed out with his most famous track, "Reckoning Song," off his 2008 album The Reckoning. But it was at this moment that the power of his performance was put to the test as stage directors ordered him to stop playing because he had exceeded his time slot.

"That's fucked up," Avidan scoffed over the microphone. The crowd cheered in protest, influencing the decision to finally allow the singer to continue.

Give that people what they want.

Critic's Notebook

Tip for the next year: Recycling bins are a must.

Overheard in the crowd: "Am I going to cry right now?" (during Asaf Avidan)

Quote of the Weekend: "I need a drank while I play. I'm not trying to be drunk, I'm just trying to be playful." -- Asaf Avidan

Asaf Avidan's Partial Setlist

-"Maybe You Are"

-"Left Behind"


-"This Cool" mash-up with Bob Marley's "Roots, Rock, Reggae"


-"Your Anchor"

-"Different Pulses"

-"Reckoning Song"

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Follow Alex Silva on Twitter @Silvasgoldd.

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