Sam Friend and Animal Tropical at the Electric Pickle

By | October 15th, 2010 | 4 Comments
Sam Friend Singing

Sam Friend and co. made up for the cover at the Electric Pickle.

Miami bands Animal Tropical and Sam Friend played short sets at the Electric Pickle, in Wynwood, Thursday night. After coughing up $5 Wednesday for Churchill’s Acoustic Night — an unwarranted tax considering there was neither the crowd nor the lineup to justify labeling the event a “night” — I was none too happy to get pinched for another five spot at Electric Pickle’s door. Listen, I understand the bands need to get paid. But if two glasses of Jameson cost the same as a bottle of Jameson at your bar, then pay them out of my tab. Or live up to your strobe-light/website, which btw advertises no cover on Thursday nights, and throw a damn party. Otherwise, exacting $5 at the door — the door that leads to the bar with the $9 Jameson and the $7 Stella Artois — feels kinda effed up.

As for the music, Animal Tropical has an Of Montreal By Way Of Miami thing happening that I can get into via Jarrett Hann’s ping-pongy bass and Jorge Rubiera’s impetuous drumming. But Jose Castello’s tongue-in-cheek, pipe-in-mouth vocal style and mid-brow name dropping (Picasso, Henry James) don’t work for me.

Tangent: I remember Of Montreal’s 2006 show at the Polish American Club as my first brush with Miami hipsterdom. I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now, why or how the hipster took root in Miami, whose heat and humidity would seem to preclude skinny jeans, whose overt vanity would seem to dwarf and trivialize the hipster’s covert variety, and whose dearth of bike lanes/film houses and status as at best an outpost on the Indie circuit would seem to leave the hipster with nothing to do. (Wait a second — I’m beginning to understand the Electric Pickle’s $5 tithe. You bore me, supply and demand.)

After Animal Tropical’s clamor, Sam Friend’s lightly distorted rock ushered the bar into the small hours. I hadn’t heard Sam Friend before and, because of his folksiness and the standoffishness of the crowd, I assumed he was an out-of-towner. Turns out he’s a Kendall kid and a University of Miami grad who’s been living in Seattle for a year. With a white flower in his fro, Friend eventually won over the crowd with his sincere, well-crafted music and genial stage presence.

Friend has upcoming shows in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, and I recommend going to his next Miami gig (unlisted). It’s worth the five bucks.


Here are some photos from the night:

Animal Tropical Lead Singer Jose Castello
Animal Tropical lead singer Jose Castello backed by Jarrett Hann on bass.

Electric Pickle Billiard Table
The Electric Pickle has a soothing back patio with a dangling disco ball and red-felt pool table.

Girls at Electric Pickle
This secret won’t be kept.

Sam Friend Flower Head
Sam Friend bringing the flower power to Miami.

All photos by Robby Campbell.

4 Comments on “Sam Friend and Animal Tropical at the Electric Pickle”

  1. 1 adam damon said at 3:33 pm on October 15th, 2010:

    great show

  2. 2 James said at 5:31 pm on October 15th, 2010:

    Sam Friend is the shit, enjoy:

  3. 3 Jackie said at 3:50 pm on November 21st, 2010:

    It’s a shame – Animal Tropical is the closest thing we have to real musicians here in Miami and people like…well, you…. don’t understand them at all. Nice to see that you let your personal feelings get in the way of your review. I would judge them on musical merit. Wouldn’t you?

  4. 4 Jordan Melnick said at 4:02 pm on November 21st, 2010:

    Your premise is wrong, Jackie. Miami has plenty of good musicians, including Sam Friend and Animal Tropical. I critiqued the singer’s style, which is unique but not to my liking. I also complimented the drummer and bassist.

    As for personal feelings getting in the way: I have no personal feelings about the band as I don’t know any of the members (beyond the most passing acquaintance) personally. If you’re talking about my personal feelings about music, a review is implicitly based upon the reviewer’s personal taste.

    Your personal taste is welcome of course. And if you feel I haven’t judged the band on their merits, feel free to reply with your own assessment — although I’m not sure “closest thing to real musicians” is much of a compliment.

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