Catching Plains at Green Room

By | May 7th, 2011 | No Comments

I schlepped up to Ft. Lauderdale early Friday evening to get to the bottom of a mystery: An alleged band of Miami musicians calling themselves Plains. With only a 7″ release and few shows under their belt, Plains has been flying in stealth mode for a while now. Every now and again, the band has bleeped across our radar to drop a track — no bombs, just well-crafted guitar-driven indie rock like “Black Feeling” and “Innovator” (#10 on our Top 15 SoFla Songs of 2010 list) to make a 90s child like me yearn for his long-lost Walkman.

But then, abruptly, the bleeping would stop, the screen would go black, Plains would disappear.

So when I heard the band had a show at the Green Room Friday evening (part of the Broward New Times SW 3RD Ave Music Festival), I had to go. The first surprise was seeing Jorge Rubiera (Can’t Stop, Animal Tropical) on the drums instead of ANR’s Michael-John Hancock. The second was not seeing Coral Morphologic dude Jared McKay at all. Both Hancock and McKay are listed on Plains’ Facebook page, but the lineup Friday evening consisted of Rubiera, Jorge Gonzalez Gaupera (guitar), Max Johnston (bass), and singer and guitarist Mike McGinnis, who by all accounts is Plains.

The Green Room gig was the first in a string of local shows Plains plans to play in the run-up to the release of their self-titled, 14-track debut on 10K Island Records. I say “their” even though Rubiera told me last night that McGinnis, an engineer at Honor Roll Music, recorded the LP himself. If that’s true of the tracks I’ve heard from Plains so far, then I feel comfortable labeling McGinnis one of Miami’s better, more mature songwriters.

I got to the Green Room show a bit late and only heard a handful of songs, including “It’s Alright Now” (video above). It’s a good track, but the song before it — a slow progression of vibrating chords with a heart-beat kick drum and a rangy, desperate vocal melody — was get-the-hell-out-of-my-head-O-wait-I-like-you-there good. In fact, everything I heard Friday evening was catchy and tight, which of course bodes well for the upcoming release.

My only lingering reservation has to do with Plains’ sonic range. Everything I’ve heard so far fits snugly into the early indie niche, so I’ll be listening for some genre wandering when Plains drops this summer. Until then, we can all whet our appetites at Plains’ upcoming shows, presuming they are in the cards as promised. There aren’t any dates posted on the band’s various pages, but then sustaining the mystery seems to be Plains’ thing.

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The only other band I paid attention to Friday evening was West Palm Beach duo The Dewars, who we’ve written about several times. It was my first time seeing the twins perform. Utterly useless summary: They’re odd and good. After the show, I heard Rubiera plotting to get them down to Miami for a gig sometime soon. We’ll keep you posted on that.

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