The Magic City isn't exactly known as a rock music hub. And in a town like this one, where traditional live venues are uncommon and turntable virtuosos are frequently in higher demand than musicians of the guitar-wielding, drumstick-spinning variety, it's hardly fair to expect the kind of noise that's made for rocking out. Which makes a band like Radioboxer all the more special.
It's been only a couple of years since this Hialeah band formed and began generating local buzz, earning fans in bunches thanks to its balls-to-the-wall performances and a disarmingly well-rounded debut, Radio Drama. Yet over the past two years, the crew has undergone an embryonic transformation, both onstage and in the studio.
That trademark Radioboxer explosion of energy remains. But it's been honed and harnessed. Now the blast is less like a nuclear reactor going up in a mushroom cloud and more like a laser in a deft hand, aimed with pinpoint precision at audiences. And the band's new follow-up record, Magic City Ruse, also proves that Radioboxer's sound has developed with startling haste into a streamlined, made-for-stage synthesis that the members have dubbed bipolar power pop.
"I think in terms of music, we went back and said, 'What do we enjoy playing live?'" bassist Jota Dazza explains. "For example, off Radio Drama, we always love to perform 'Placebo Effect' and feel it represents us better. So we started working toward that — a little bit simpler, a little more energetic. These songs were actually created, a lot of times, playing live."
Musically, Magic City Ruse is just that, upbeat and driving, with far fewer forays into temperamental fare.
"I describe the record as more energetic and less dramatic," says the group's fiery vocalist, Vanne Dazza, who rounds out the roster along with drummer Tekilla 23, keyboardist Gian Nicolaci, and guitarists Santos Arroyo and Esteban Gomez. "We don't use too many minor chords, like we did in Radio Drama," she laughs.
But Radioboxer doesn't demonstrate stylistic development only on Magic City Ruse. There's also been growth in the songwriting and the studio work, which has produced an album full of tight, polished, and highly refined tracks.
"I wouldn't say it's a concept album," Jota says. "But definitely all the songs deal with where you are, who you're with, how that affects you, and how you affect it.
Furthermore, he explains, "The [theme] of the record is really 'What is home?' Magic City Ruse started from things not always being what they seem. A lot of people come to Miami thinking that everything's going to be easy. Then they realize that there are a lot of negative aspects. But there's also some good stuff that's worth putting out there. At the end of the day, it's our home. And you have to feel at home with yourself."
This Friday, Radioboxer will herald the release of its sophomore effort. And what better way for Hialeah's hardest rocking live show to celebrate than in its true element — onstage. The six-member crew will perform Magic City Ruse in its entirety at the Stage, and in addition to Radioboxer's standard antics — often involving confetti, laser lights, balloon drops, fake blood, and bullhorns — the event promises a red carpet, DJs, and "other everyday hidden treasures of the Magic City."