Concert Review: Gang Gang Dance at Max Fish Miami, December 4

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Gang Gang Dance
Max Fish, Miami
Friday, December 4, 2009

Better than: Seeing the band play in a hall way closet, yet also better than seeing them play at a spacious festival.

The Review:
I want to thank the people who continually stepped on my shoes, the guy who unintentionally gave me a vertical lap dance while I was literally trapped with no where to go, and the girl in the white jacket (you know who you are, we all know who you are) who grabbed me in a bear hug and repeatedly thrashed me about the audience for a good minute before depositing me in front of the stage so I could get a better picture. But most of all I'd like to thank the reason we were all there that night: Gang Gang Dance.

You drained me, you really drained me.

For all its charm and good memories, the old PS14 space, resurrected temporarily during Art Basel week as Max Fish Miami in tribute of New York's L.E.S. bar Max Fish's 20th anniversary, has never been the most comfortable place to see a band. With the bathroom directly to the stage's left, the door to the back patio on the right, and the bar sitting just a few yards behind, the audience space is smaller than your average apartment bedroom.

So when Gang Gang Dance took the stage just after 2 a.m., those gathered in front of the performance area were packed tighter than their legs were into their jeans.

After lead singer/howler/chanter Liz Bougatsos (who has the cutest New York accent, by the way), clad in a Michael Jackson shirt and turban, tipped the audience off to the nice, vacant lot across the street that was available for discreetly relieving oneself in (thanks, but the locals know all about the pee lot), the Brooklyn four-piece set forth on a 70-minute set of tribal-cum-synthetic, percussive heavy jams drawing at times from their most recent album Saint Dymphna. Though, not really embracing the poppier moments of that album. No "House Jam" in America's most house jam loving city.

The crowd eventually thinned out, but those of us that stuck it out were treated to a trip that sounded like we were discovering the highly sophisticated beats of an Amazonian tribe that somehow relocated to Jupiter and picked up some Grime and Dub records along the way.

By the time it was over I was pretty much done. Like done for the week. Both in the sense that I felt completely drained afterward, and in the sense that I probably wasn't going to enjoy anything for the rest of the weekend quite as much.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: "House Jam," the accompanying XXXChange remix and Saint Dymphna ranked amongst my favorites in the respective categories in 2008.

Random Detail: Remember the rumors last year that GGD was going to be the Art Loves Music beach band? I was kinda crushed when that didn't play out, but in retrospect it probably would have scared away half the audience and GGD's intensity is maybe better appreciated close up.

By the Way:  Max Fish, I know you're only temporary, but you're more than welcome to stick around. In any event, let's hope someone snaps up the space and does right by it, because now it's even harder to say goodbye.

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