After the Miami Music Festival’s disappointing opening night, my plan was to go to Tobacco Road for a promising Miami triumvirate: Madame Omine, Fernando Perdomo’s Dreaming In Stereo, and Arboles Libres (all signed to Perdomo’s Miami-based label Forward Motion Records).
Perdomo sat in with Omine on the outside stage, his guitar work adding a controlled frenzy to her rollicking roadhouse blues. Probably the foremost pleasure of the night was seeing how much Perdomo enjoys himself on stage. The rumpled man wields a wicked ax and routinely tosses off riffs that give standard chord progressions new life. Perdomo is an incorrigible local (see “I’m Not Gonna Move to L.A.”) who has done more than his fair share for Miami’s music scene, and it was good to see him get his rocks off on stage — his own Forward Motion-sponsored stage — at a venerable Miami venue.
Problem was, I was one of only about 30 people watching (29, if you don’t count Perdomo’s mother). Attendance at the other MMF stage upstairs was even worse. In fact, there might have been more people inside watching the Portland-Oklahoma game, seemingly oblivious that a music festival was underway, than there were at the two stages combined. So Perdomo and Omine gamely sent their musical energy out into an empty night, and in return they got a round of applause befitting a show-and-tell presentation.
As much as I wanted to stay for Arboles Libres, I decided to head over to Bardot for local Latin fusion ensemble Locos Por Juana. Despite the mounting evidence — a lame opening night and a dead Tobacco Road — I wasn’t ready to give up on MMF. There were, after all, hundreds of shows scheduled in scores of venues around the city. They couldn’t all be flops, I figured.
But when I got to Bardot at 1 a.m. — just in time for the scheduled start of Loco Por Juana’s set — the bouncer told me the band wasn’t playing. “Loco Por Juana said fuck the Miami Music Festival,” he explained. I don’t know any details beyond that. For all I know it’s not true. Maybe LPJ’s trombonist came down with strep. But what I can report is that the band — the venue’s headlining band — didn’t play and no one at Bardot seemed to care. As at Tobacco Road, few Bardot patrons betrayed any awareness that a music festival was underway. In lieu of Locos, a DJ stepped in and no one seemed to mind, least of all the guy getting a vigorous lap dance on a couch in the corner.
To whatever extent these vignettes suggest the Miami Music Festival remains a deeply flawed enterprise, no closer to joining the ranks of SXSW and CMJ in this its second year than in 2009, it is of course possible that things went far better at some of the other shows across Miami last night. If so, speak up in a comment. With another full day of MMF ahead of me, I need my faith restored.
Here are some photos from the event.
Perdomo made the most of a lonesome scene.
All photos by Robby Campbell. See more photos from the Miami Music Festival HERE.