Blonde Redhead and Mayer Hawthorne
As part of the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour
Soho Studios, Miami
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Not everyone can afford a fancy Mercedes-Benz, but when Mercedes-Benz is putting on a party to celebrate the launch of the new GLA sports utility vehicle, everyone can afford live music.
The live music at last night's Miami stop of the Mercedes-Benz Evolution Tour was actually really good, bringing us a bit of post-punk romance with Blonde Redhead and soulful R&B from Mayer Hawthorne.
And what did we learn? Despite pop music and EDM's evidence to the contrary, people still get really excited over guitar tuneage.
We just missed the start of Blonde Redhead's set. So when we shuffled into Soho Studios at 9:10 p.m., the sounds of "Love or Prison" were already working the front-half of the building into an ethereal stupor. The trio stared down at their instruments more than they looked at the crowd, and there was no cutesy banter between songs. They worked straight from one dreamy soundscape into another. And time to time, the meditative sonic moments were jostled by explosive guitar crunches, more noise than actual melody. We miss that sort of thing.
It was nice to see Miami enjoying something so subtle, even if some members of the crowd wouldn't stop chattering away. The show also acted as a great excuse for anyone who ever wore black for more than a week at a time to completely own their shit.
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The members of Blonde Redhead are also incredibly talented. Though consisting of only three people, there were enough instruments on stage for a band twice their size, and they moved between them from song to song, switching between Kazu Makino's breathy vocals and Amedeo Pace's somewhat manlier ones.
You could tell some of the crowd members were devout fans. We caught this one dude playing air guitar, correct fret fingerings and all, to his favorite jam. Most people went crazy over their last song, "23." And after 45 minutes of solid shoegaze, it was time for a free drink.
We hit the bar. We wandered around the giant space, taking in the sights of a living room-style lounge area, a sparkling Mercedes-Benz covered in splattered paint, and this kind of confusing display of Mercedes models through the years paired with (ostensibly) corresponding number-one Billboard chart hits. Or at least, we think that's what it was about. Anyway, there were free drinks.
By 10:15, the DJ's catchy dance music made way for Mayer Hawthorne and his band, a slightly choreographed foursome in matching white jackets that delivered silky smooth nu-lounge tunes that may or may not have inspired someone's future birth.
Unlike Blonde Redhead, these guys were all about crowd interaction. Hawthorne is one cool mother. It kind of felt like he was hitting on all of us. Also, his drummer is incredible.
Sometimes, it felt like we were getting Hawthorne's very best Tom Jones impression. Other times, it felt like a white college bro's version of Jamaica. Whatever the vibe, the crowd was lovin' it. We've never seen so many Miamians actually dance with each other. Maybe R&B and rock 'n' roll stand a chance at a comeback?
Interesting side note: Mayer Hawthorne was originally a rapper from Detroit, so we hear, and you can catch some of that vibe in his music. He did give us some rapping, and he did do a sweet cover of Bell Biv DeVoe classic "Poison." He also told us he wrote the song "Crime" for Kendrick Lamar, and he did a tight cover of "Walk This Way," which melted seamlessly into his own original cut, "The Walk."
Hawthorne and his band are supercute, we can't lie. They were bobbing along in sync with one another to the beat. All the girls were swooning when he finally took off his jacket. The guy has got his Motown sound down, and when he announced the last song, it was sad faces all around.
But was "The Ills" really the last song? Umm ... Of course not! We got that encore steez, because we're Miami. Hawthorne is sexy, we're sexy, it makes sense. So he came back to give us "Her Favorite Song," but it was rapped at us instead of sung, going back to those roots again.
After that, he told us how much he loved us, introduced the band, let the drummer take us out, and took off for the last time. No chant of "one more song" could be entertained. He'd already gone 15 minutes past his 11 o'clock curfew, and the bouncers had to start herding people off the back patio.
We do believe that he really does love us, though. Just look at this sweet Instagram pic.
Mayer Hawthorne's Setlist
-"Maybe So, Maybe No"
-"Back Seat Lover"
-"Reach Out Richard"
-"Get to Know You"
-"Walk This Way"
-"The Stars are Ours"
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-"Her Favorite Song"
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