The Living Room Wants to Be Your Live Music Den

The Faena's Alejandro Lista: "I try to create a comfortable situation for artists."
The Faena's Alejandro Lista: "I try to create a comfortable situation for artists." Photo by Fabian Giannattasio
The Living Room opened in the Faena Hotel at the end of 2015, but it wasn't until recently that the gathering space found its musical niche, explains Alejandro Lista, Faena's music director. "The first idea was to have one band play the entire week. After a while, we decided every night was something different. We added more bands and more bands, and suddenly we have 20 bands rotating."

In a recent week, Living Room patrons could hear the Gypsy jazz of the French Horn Collective, the Latin funk of Los Wizzards, and bossa nova with Nu Gran Trio. Part of Lista's motivation to expand the musical menu was hearing people say there are no bands in Miami. "Everyone says Miami is just a city of DJs. I started visiting different bars — after their shows, I'd talk to the musicians I liked and see if I could get them to play here."

Lista was a studio professional in his native Argentina, where he often worked as a sound engineer. So even though the original concept behind the Living Room was that, without a stage, it would feel like a band was playing in someone's living room, he was always sensitive to the room's acoustics. "I come from the angle of the sonic situation of what bands need. When something off or on is happening, I notice. I try to create a comfortable situation for artists." Musicians who were once reticent to play in a space without a stage are now inundating Lista with requests to play there.

He's also found himself in the position of helping create bands while testing various musical formats. "Yoli Mayor came in just as a singer with no band. We got her three guys who played in other bands. The percussionist became a drummer; the piano player could sing, so he started doing backing vocals. I called them 'the Blenders.' They asked, 'Who are the Blenders?' I said, 'You are.'"

Lista is especially proud of a new initiative that he and his crew have started on Tuesdays — Vinyl Nights — when DJs bring crates of vinyl and play guests' requests. "People were shy at first, but then the night became interactive." He also recommends Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m., when they open up the outside and Ola 305 plays multistyle Cuban music.

Curating who plays which night at the Living Room takes plenty of internal study. "I spend all my nights there," Listo says. "We have different crowds every night. Monday has different people than Friday. You can't have a jazz band on a Friday, but you can on Monday, when people come to chill out. Wednesday was a funky situation, so we have funky music. There's a different vibe and style every night. We open the palette and have a lot of colors."

The Living Room. Faena Hotel, 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach;
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland