Holy crap, y'all. Are you listening to the stuff that Orlando label Relief in Abstract is putting out? If not, you're missing some amazing stuff. So remedy your sad situation, ASAP.
The label's roster includes artists XXYYXX, Fortune Howl, Marble, Grant and Spies on Bikes, and they're all putting out some of the funkiest, experimental noise we've heard in a minute. They brought most of that crew down to Bardot last night for a showcase that just totally blew. You know, in a good way.
Minds were blown, bodies were blown, weed was blown, and hopefully someone got a BJ after that stellar set of performances. They earned it.
We got there just in time for a quick trip to the bar before the first performer set if off. Marble, a rather unassuming looking guy with a small build and a shy disposition on stage, started things off a pretty emotional set, albeit a very free-form presentation. He went back and forth between very noisy, off-center rhythms and beautiful, catchy melodies. When he sung, he kind of swallowed his words, giving his voice a kind of Andrew Bird quality.
For the most part, it seemed he very much enjoyed taking natural noises and presenting them in very unnatural ways. It was really quite impressive, but perhaps the crowd wasn't ready for such a thoughtful performance, because a number of people stood around just talking in front of him. It was a bit rude, but maybe Marble could learn to be more commanding of his audience's attention.
After a 40-minute set, he thanked the crowd and moved him laptop and apc to make room for the next act. Fortune Howl followed with a similar approach to music making as Marble, but packing more of a presentational punch. Right from the get-go, the crowd was mesmerized as he and VJ Guillermo Casanova bounced along to the heavy rhythms this dude was steady banging.
Fortune Howl, too, brought an interest mix of organic and electronic elements. A lot of different influences came through in the beats, ranging anywhere from trap to drum 'n' bass patterns within the same song. Occasionally, he was joined by vocalist Alex Clements or took to up the mic himself, singing very melodically over the experimental beats. It was clear from the conversation among the crowd that most people in attendance had never heard the guy's work before, but would undoubtedly go on to dig up most of his catalogue.
He were just as moved.
"This is fucking crazy, you're fucking crazy," he said. "This is the last song. It's called 'Paws.'"
To be honest, after the show-stopping set, it seemed XXYYXX would have a hard time following up. His releases have a very demure and atmospheric style, so it seemed natural that the 17-year-old headliner would be expected to bring the energy down, but in fact, he did nothing of the sort. He shocked the audience with the liveliest performance of the night, turning up the hoes from wild to ratchet while his homie worked the trippiest and tightest live visuals we've seen in a long time, right by his side.
The crowd smothered each other to be near the artists as they jumped like madmen behind their computers. The whole place was possessed with the infectious energy, and XXYYXX showed that he'd earned his headliner spot in every regard. He worked effortlessly between glitchy patterns and runs, making his jazzy and broken beats seem polished and cleverly-designed. The trap influence was apparent, but his calm melodies mixed in to take some of the edge of. Really, it was pretty perfect.
He worked through some of his relevant material and saved the hit "About You" for last. When his hour was up, he grabbed the mic and let his enthusiasm shine through his words.
"Please give it up for everybody who performed. You know that crazy. Everybody did great," he said. "Give it up to Guillermo Casanova on visuals. Now, me and Grant are gonna do a DJ set."
Happily, it wasn't over just yet, and a good half of the crowd stuck around to jam for the last hour or so. The DJ set was a lot more straight-forwardly raucous as he mixed through big trap hits with impressive flair. He'd moved from the table on the dance floor to the DJ booth proper, and the dancing hoards followed to surround him. He commanded the place until we headed out around 3, and we're sure he had a crowd rocking with him to the bitter, bleary-eyed end.
Honestly, you should have been there to see it yourself, but if you didn't, do yourself a favor and grab up the shit the whole Relief in Abstract crew is putting out. You won't be disappointed.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.