Miami's Ten Best Music Moments of 2017

The Marley brothers reunited onstage for the first time in 20 years in Miami this year.
The Marley brothers reunited onstage for the first time in 20 years in Miami this year. Michele Eve Sandberg
The year 2017 won't go down in history as 12 months of sunshine and rainbows, but if you were a music fan in Miami, you got to see some pretty cool performances this year. From world-renowned artists touching down in South Florida for the first time, to hometown talent hitting it big, Miami's music scene gave locals reasons to find joy when times got tough. Here, New Times' music writers share their favorite moments of 2017.
click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX MARKOW
Photo by Alex Markow
1. LCD Soundsystem plays "I Can Change." There had been many close calls between Miami and LCD Soundsystem since the group's last South Florida show in 2010. Mastermind James Murphy played a couple of DJ sets here, and after his band reunited, LCD Soundsystem was supposed to headline last year's III Points Festival. A hurricane warning made short work of that plan. A year later, the band was finally here, and it didn't take long to realize it was worth the wait. Three songs in, they played "I Can Change," a track that is simultaneously futuristic and retro, with a driving beat that caused the entire James L. Knight Center to move in unison. From the cheap seats, it felt like a minor earthquake, one that the building's foundation might not have been able to handle, but in the moment, it didn't seem like it would be a bad way to die. — David Rolland
click to enlarge Yoli Mayor on America's Got Talent. - PHOTO BY TRAE PATTON/NBC
Yoli Mayor on America's Got Talent.
Photo by Trae Patton/NBC
2. Yoli Mayor sings on America's Got Talent. Reality shows are garbage, but you can't help but root for hometown talents when they're on the screen. So when Miami singer Yoli Mayor blew the crowd away in her America's Got Talent debut in May, she had the whole city behind her. Mayor's success was extra-sweet after curmudgeon Simon Cowell shut down her opening song roughly ten seconds in to tell her she was too "old-fashioned" for a 21-year-old. Tyra Banks even rushed the stage to snatch Mayor's jewelry and heels, but the singer kept her composure, quipping "I feel more comfortable now anyways" before delivering an emotional rendition of Ed Sheeran's "Make It Rain" that earned her a place in the next round and kept Miami cheering her on all the way to the semifinals. — Ciara LaVelle
click to enlarge Arcade Fire perform at the Watsco Center. - KARLI EVANS
Arcade Fire perform at the Watsco Center.
Karli Evans
3. Christina Ponthieux speaks on the Arcade Fire stage. When you're a couple of drinks into a great show, you're ready to scream and applaud for just about anything. So when Arcade Fire singer Win Butler introduced Christina Ponthieux, a local elementary school kid, the crowd at Watsco Center went bananas. She spoke for a couple of minutes about the end of Temporary Protected Status, which threatens to deport many Haitian residents such as herself. "Will you fight for us?" she asked the arena. "Of course!" we all screamed. "You're an innocent child, and by nature of us being Arcade Fire fans, we are inherently opposed to anything Donald Trump and his cronies might support!" For our enthusiasm, we were rewarded with one of the band's most beautiful songs, "Haiti." — David Rolland
click to enlarge MICHELE EVE SANDBERG
Michele Eve Sandberg
4. The Marley brothers reunite at Kaya Fest. Before 2017, it had been two decades since the musical offspring of Bob Marley had reunited en masse onstage. But that's exactly what the crowds at Kaya Fest witnessed in April: a historic collaborative performance with an added dose of Miami flair. The brothers performed their own songs as well as some of their father's most memorable tracks, including “Easy Skanking” and “Is This Love.” Among the fans in attendance was Pitbull, who also made a surprise appearance to perform his hit "Options" with Stephen Marley. — Celia Almeida
click to enlarge Björk's Miami debut was filled with Easter eggs. - PHOTO BY SANTIAGO FELIPE
Björk's Miami debut was filled with Easter eggs.
Photo by Santiago Felipe
5. Björk plays an Art Basel DJ set. The crowd had thinned out to half its size by the time Björk’s Art Basel DJ set reached its dazzling peak. Maybe some attendees were deterred by the 30 minutes of flutes, choirs, and bird songs the art-pop provocateur used to begin her set. Maybe they were put off by the clash of industrial sounds and feminist rap that followed; something one might expect more from her collaborator Arca than the woman who made “Bachelorette.” It ultimately doesn't matter, because by leaving early, they deprived themselves of the greatest thing they will never see and perhaps the craziest thing Björk will ever do: a middle-aged woman from Iceland dressed in a fuchsia foil costume playing “O Let’s Do It” by Waka Flocka Flame. — Douglas Markowitz
Photo by Amadeus McCaskill
6. Laser light shows are revived at the Frost Museum of Science. If you grew up in Miami and are of a certain age, you probably have some hazy memories of lying on the floor of the Museum of Science Planetarium, staring at the ceiling, and blissing out to laser light shows soundtracked by classic-rock greats such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and the Doors. After the old building's abandonment and the delay of the Frost Museum of Science's opening, local fans of laser light shows had to hope for an acid flashback to relive the experience. But this past June, the museum revived the shows on the first and third Fridays of every month. With a rotating schedule of old favorites such as the Beatles and Bob Marley, and contemporary artists like Daft Punk and Gorillaz, the shows bring back that groovy feeling that only communally sharing music and trippy visuals can provide. — David Rolland
7. Juggalos flood the Hangar with Faygo. If you're not intimately familiar with Insane Clown Posse culture, you might assume some of the stereotypes about the band's fans are exaggerated. Surely they don't wear black and white clown makeup all the time. They probably don't actually use sharp objects to murder people. And the obsession with Faygo is a myth, right? Wrong. Juggalos packed the Hangar for Insane Clown Posse's show in October and proved they're every bit as serious, silly, and straight-up messy as their reputation implies. At the end of the night, dozens of empty plastic two-liter Faygo bottles sat half-submerged in massive puddles of soda, transforming the venue into the world's stickiest kiddie pool. Why would you expect anything less? — Ciara LaVelle
8. Gorillaz perform at III Points. This year’s III Points was full of magical moments, such as when Lil B (accidentally?) rechristened the three-day festival “ILL Points” during his wild set. But by far, this year's history-making performance came from Gorillaz, who played their debut Florida show to a sold-out, packed-like-sardines crowd at Mana Wynwood. Several of Damon Albarn’s collaborators from the Humanz sessions, such as Kali Uchis and Jamie Principle, made stunning appearances. Albarn himself mused midset about his South Beach hotel, teasing it as future inspiration for new music. But the biggest highlight came at the very end, when the band played the title track off Plastic Beach for the first time in seven years. “No better place than Miami,” Albarn said of the song. “It's come home, this song, after all these years.” Couldn’t agree more. — Douglas Markowitz
9. "Evaculation Song" goes viral. He might have just been trying to experience the weather, but when a man calling himself Donk Planet answered a few interview questions from a reporter before Hurricane Irma made landfall in South Florida, he became the subject of a meme that went viral nationwide. Everyone from Jimmy Kimmel to Trick Daddy shouted out the "Evaculation" guy, and an L.A. production company gave his epic mispronunciation an insanely catchy remix that had people dancing, AKA "evaculating," through the storm. Even Donk himself loves the jam. "It's a feel-good song, so when I heard it, I had no choice but to like it," he told New Times after the storm. What's more, sales of his #evaculation T-shirts helped raise money for Save the Children's Hurricane Irma and Maria relief fund. — Ciara LaVelle
click to enlarge Shakira performs at Wynwood Yard. - ANDREA LORENA
Shakira performs at Wynwood Yard.
Andrea Lorena
10. Shakira performs a surprise show at the Wynwood Yard. In 2017, the Wynwood Yard stage became a favorite pop-up performance venue for some of today's biggest artists. In August, Coldplay’s Chris Martin stopped by with tour opener Izzy Bizu on the day before his band’s Hard Rock Stadium spectacle. But Shakira was the first to surprise fans at the Yard when she played a free, late-night, two-song set in May. PR and events crew Prism Creative Group blasted the announcement on social media earlier that evening, prompting fans from all corners of Miami to make a mad dash to the Yard. Shak sang her hit “Me Enamore,” and elated fans chased after her for hugs and high-fives as she left to continue her night out in Miami. — Celia Almeida
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
New Times staff and contributors