Caribou and ARP at Grand Central, October 19

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With ARP
Grand Central, Miami
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Better than: Going to the club with a bunch of tweens and teens.

Okay, so we're a little biased. We had way too much fun at last night's Caribou show. Blame the crowd.

It was totally energized, overtly happy, and mostly over 21. Were we caught off-guard by the audience, considering this was an all-ages show? Yes, but that didn't make the surprise any less welcome.

We weren't really sure what to expect with Caribou and ARP. They're both widely known to be one-man bands performing largely on synths and keyboards, so we didn't think it would translate to a venue like Grand Central. How would an audience react to such a soft-paced musical whirlwind? We'd soon find out.

ARP remained a one-man impressario, taking to the stage a little after 9 p.m. and accompanied only by his synths. The LED screen lit up with nature-driven backgrounds, fast-paced video of oceans, mountains, beaches, and cityscapes. We weren't riding Soarin' in Epcot, but it sure felt that way.

The landscapes fit the music perfectly, and it felt like the sounds of air brushing across the oceans, crickets, and various wildlife actually came from ARP's Alexis Georgopoulos. That was the only way we could tell when one song ended and the other began, really, because the entire performance was purely instrumental and we otherwise didn't hear a peep out of Georgopoulos.

What really caught us by surprise was when he pulled out a guitar, though. Why? Because it sounded more like some kind of keyboards-synth hybrid than something you'd actually pluck. Georgopoulos transported us with his Moroccan-inspired sounds. But the crowd seemed more interested in trying to overpower him with their voices, opting to catch up with people they hadn't seen in ages rather than watch the mix of words and wildlife that had hit the LED screeen.

When Caribou took to the stage nearing 10:30 p.m., the crowd was already getting antsy. One showgoer threatened to do jumping jacks while he waited. Another mentioned that she was "no longer drunk anymore, but that's okay." When two drum kits, guitars, and keyboards were revealed, though, the crowd suddenly became ecstatic.

Four men boarded the stage needing no introduction -- not because we already knew who they were, but because we were just so purely excited to see what these live additions would mean for the music. As we stared intently we couldn't help but notice the lights, so blinding in their flashes that we'd wished we brought sunglasses with us -- and found it hard to look straight at the band for more than a few moments without feeling our retinas burn.

Each song buildup was amazing, driven by drums, guitars, and some other random instrument like a cheese grater, flute, or tambourine, and we heard the audience around us whisper comparisons to LCD Soundsystem's recent performance at the Fillmore.

We have to agree; these comparisons weren't entirely without merit. But what Caribou's frontman Daniel Victor Snaith lacks when compared to LCD leader James Murphy is any real audience interaction. He barely talked to the crowd. And even though the music was well-performed and powerful, the band's solos, sporadic changes of instruments, and drawn out instrumentals sometimes veered more towards jam band than a full-on rock show, considering each song exceeded the standard five minutes.

However, Caribou looked thrilled to be there, often grinning widely when fans broke out in riot-like cheers. Otherwise, the band had just enough stage presence that two grown men standing behind us to sporadically started yelling, "Oh, Canada! in Miami" -- and enough also to leave the crowd pleased they'd gotten out of the house on a Tuesday night.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: After the all-ages shows I've been to lately, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this one was mostly 21 and older.

The Crowd: Lots of hipsters, 20- and 30-somethings, hardly any kids.

Overheard in the Crowd: From one guy to another one: "I'm not your girlfriend, but I appreciate the energy."

Random Detail: We've never seen Grand Central so packed for a show ... ever.

Random Detail #2: The lights were flashing so much we thought we were going blind or maybe experiencing vertigo.

Caribou's Set List:
-"Leave House"
-"Melody Day"
-"Found Out"


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