The Awarehouse, Miami
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Better than: Playing Skip-It while having 1980s cartoon flashbacks.
OK, so there were a lot of shows to see last night. Between Vivian Girls, Social Distortion, Paul Oakenfold, Miami Film Festival, the Art Walk, and Nitzer Ebb, among others, South Floridians had way too many options. So how exactly did we decide on Javelin? That's easy: We like to dance.
We were promised a boombox-totin', keyboard-cat-sportin', out-of-control dance show. And even though the boomboxes looked more like amps covered with papier mache and we spotted no lolcats, Javelin still managed to deliver on the dance.
The doors opened at 9, but the show didn't start till well past 11:30. Our best guess? They were waiting for the crowd to spill over from Wynwood Art Walk. We arrived around 9:45, and there couldn't have been more than 50 people there, most of them hanging out on the lawn, reclining on black beanbag chairs, enjoying complimentary Vitamin Water, and catching some retro TV gems like Punky Brewster and footage from someone playing the original Super Mario Bros.
Entresol (AKA Eduardo Rivadeneira) was the first up, a one-man band of synthy goodness. By the third song, he had the entire floor dancing, and well over 100 people migrated from their comfortable spots outside to the dance floor. He was almost as crisp as a recording, and we're pretty sure he gained a new fan base. Performing on stage alone can't be easy, but he managed to keep the crowd entertained throughout his half-hour set.
When Javelin finally took to the stage at 1 a.m., the crowd had nearly doubled, heavy into boozing, and already starting to get a little antsy. The last time we saw them perform in January (at House of Yes in Brooklyn), they were part of a "sloppy circus" of sorts, with varied performers and fire breathers setting the backdrop for their show. We couldn't help but notice that the minor technical sound glitches they experienced at that show were absent from this one. And frontman Thomas Van Buskirk confessed to us, "That show was probably the best we ever played because of the small venue."
This venue wasn't nearly as small, but Van Buskirk welcomed us all, "Hello Miami! Land of bass and bongos." Once he started harmonizing with a kazoo, we knew this wasn't going to be a standard after-art-walk set.
Their blend of electronic music, hip-hop, and dance is decidedly experimental. And their synthy backdrops provided a big gulp of nostalgia for anyone that ever went to Disney World and experienced the electrical night parade caravans filled with holiday lights in the '80s and early '90s. The womp-womping, synth-induced horns intertwined seamlessly with Van Buskirk's soft, floaty vocals, and when he switched it up to full-on, rap-style freestyling, he caught us off guard -- but in a good way.
The set slowly transformed from an airy ethereal performance with tribal drums to a soul and R&B show, equipped with autotunes and vintage video game theme songs, and we heard no complaints. Every time Van Buskirk hunched over to tap on his kit between kazoo and synth solos, the crowd grew more energized, and the bounce in their step heavier. At one point we even spotted a big group of dudes full-on jumping up and down. We're pretty sure even drummer George Langford felt it, as with each cymbal tap his sound grew stronger and his leg kicks more obvious.
We don't think we've ever seen someone play the kazoo with so much oomph (or ever seen someone play the kazoo on stage, really), and Van Buskirk had a little background storyline or quip for practically each song they performed. He dedicated "Vibrationz" to "middle school dances all over the world," and sarcastically gestured, "You guys don't really see rain here, right?" during "Mossy Woodland." Then there was bass so heavy Van Buskirk himself shouted, "Show me the sound machine! I wanna see it!"
Javelin gave us a taste of everything from samples of Outkast's "SpottieOttieDopalicious" and Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" to the French lullaby "Frere Jacques." They seemed to leave no stone unturned, adding Latin vibes, reggae, and soulful croons to practically everything they put out there.
They loved the crowd so much after their hour-long set that they ran back on stage smiling from ear to ear, Van Buskirk saying, "You guys are so great. You're going to make us miss our flight" and considering they stayed half an hour after the show to take photos with fans and chat everyone up, we're pretty sure they did.
Personal Bias: I've become a bit spoiled with all of the shows in South Florida starting on time (if not early) as of late. I was a little disappointed to have to wait till after 11:30 p.m. for the show to start.
The Crowd: UM students, 20- and 30-somethings, hipsters, art walk spillover.
Overheard in the Crowd: "You know what? This is so good I'm going to tap the floor with my hands till it's over."
Random Detail: There were a few groups actually trying to choreograph robot-like dance moves to the beats. Britney Spears has nothing on them.
Random Detail #2: I actually met Javelin. Thom and George were so sweet and sincere. Even though they "come up with what songs they're going to play on the spot," they went and got a piece of paper and a pen to brainstorm and try to remember what they performed ... "more or less."
-"On It On It"
-"We Ah Wi"
-"Off My Mind"
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