It seems strange, but in almost ten years of record releases and world tours, Bloc Party had never played Miami until last night.
A celebration was in order, so Absolut vodka teamed up with artist Agustina Woodgate to transform Soho Studios into an interactive wonderland of booze, rainbows and great tunes. It was called Absolut X, and much hashtagging was encouraged.
It was a great party, apparently so great you had to show up an hour and a half early just to make it in.
Doors opened at 9 p.m, but some people got there as early as two hours before. It must have been the combined lure of free drinks and Bloc Party's Miami debut that had the line wrapping around the entire building, turning the parking situation into a living nightmare throughout Wynwood.
Once you made it inside, things got better. It was a masquerade themed-event, so girls in glowing costume passed out masks, and there was a make-up center provided by Absolut to transform guests into something more appropriate. Of course, it being Miami, not too many people showed up incognito.
Absolut provided more than just masks and make-up, they gave us everything. Waiters walked around with finger foods that were both delicious and suspiciously similar to the kind of thing you might find in the frozen aisle of your local grocer - not that we're complaining.
We will however complain about the total lack of alcohol in the free mixed drinks. We understand a need to curb intoxication at an event like this, but after almost 10 drinks, we should have felt something other than a sugar high.
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Warming up the crowd, Jessica Who mixed from atop some artistic riser, underneath of which guests could walk through a black-light tunnel that didn't really make any sense but looked really cool. She spun a bunch of classic indie jams, mixed with contemporary hits like Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," though critically, it wasn't the smoothest set we've heard from the local star. And really, that MC, he wasn't that great. He sounded like a knock-off Pitbull.
Finally, at 11 p.m., the moment had arrived. The Studios has reached capacity, and the waiters cleared the floor as the crowd squeezed into the front toward the stage. The house lights dimmed and blue mood lighting shone above the heads. Mysterious Tron-esque music played before the four men took their places.
Bloc Party manned their instruments and went straight into "So Here We Are," a song off their debut album Silent Alarm. They sounded great, their chords and voices ringing clearly through the speakers. They followed it up with "Octopus," a catchy number from their latest album Four.
They had a classic rock'n'roll look about them in matching white t-shirts. They seemed relaxed on stage and happy to be there, although not altogether as energetic as they might have been. The lights reflected off the metal ceiling installations, casting rainbows over the crowd.
"We're Bloc Party from England," singer Kele Okereke addressed the crowd between songs. "This is our first time performing here. Sorry we're late." He could have been apologizing for the eight or nine years it took this now-classic band to make it to the 305, but apparently, he'd cut his leg before the performance, which held them back.
Adorned in Band-aids and ready for action, they went into the lively "Hunting For Witches," leading the crowd in chants and claps. They kept the energy up when they followed with "Like Eating Glass." Then they played "Team A," apparently a true story about Okereke's first experience with Adderall, before giving some background on his only other trip to Miami.
"I stayed here for a week," he said, "and my favorite thing was walking passed the shops and seeing all the mannequins with big boobs and butts. It's not like that anywhere else in the world, so I figured, this must be a cool place." Ah yes, the things that make this place so special - plastic surgeons.
They slowed down for "Real Talk" and picked it back up with "Waiting For the 7.18." The drummer took off his white T as each member dug deep, losing themselves in the music. "Tenderoni" came next, followed by "Song For Clay (Disappear Here)," which turned directly into the familiar chords of "Banquet."
The crowd sang along excitedly, and the floor seemed a bit more spacious for "Truth," but camera phones were out and filming for the next song, an unreleased, upbeat song called "Ratchet." It was fun, but the lights were strangely and uncomfortable blinding.
"This song is for whoever had to wait seven of eight years to see us live," Okereke said, going into "Modern Love." It was at this moment that our young friend, whose favorite band is Bloc Party, turned to us and said "this is the first time I heard them. I was 12." It made us feel both incredibly old and all warm and fuzzy. This was the kind of moment that music magic is made of.
"Sadly Miami, we're coming to the end of the show," he said. "But thankfully, we have a few more rockets in our pocket."
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They played a cute cover of "We Found Love" from Rihanna and Calvin Harris, turning it into "Flux." They thanked the crowd once more before finishing with the highly energetic "Helicopter," inspiring a mosh pit to form in the center of the crowd, sending us off with a huge burst of blue and silver confetti.
They milked their instruments, guitarist Russell Lissack letting his chords ring until the last bit of confetti fell in our outstretched hands. They came together for one final bow as the crowd begged for "one more song." Contractually, there was probably nothing they could do about it, and actually, the nice Absolut staff turned from happy to pushy on a dime, needing to clear the space out as fast as possible.
So after almost a decade of anticipation, Bloc Party was forced to walk away without an encore. But it was still worth the wait, and it was definitely worth it for the free food. But the free drinks? Well, let's just say our next stop was another bar.