One of the few acts in the Miami Music Festival with a broad audience, the Brooklyn-based Vivian Girls put on a solid show last night at Gemma Lounge on Lincoln Road. As at every MMF show I attended this year (Cafeina on Thursday night, Tobacco Road and Bardot on Friday night), the crowd was too small for the room and, in this case, too small for the band. But I have already parsed MMF’s issues, and with the festival winding down I am not going to dwell on them much more. If it hopes to join the ranks of SXSW (its benchmark), CMJ, et cetera, MMF must 1) book a headliner whose latest hit was within the last ten years (i.e. not the Spin Doctors); 2) showcase Miami’s best musicians; and 3) get the city excited about (or at least cognizant of) the festival. Accomplishing #2 would go a long way toward taking care of #3. As for #1, this is Miami: I’m sure someone with a career in front of him could be persuaded to spend a weekend on South Beach. (James Murphy seemed to like it here.)
I do realize that, in only its second year, MMF had little chance of achieving greatness. No one should have expected that, and my own asking around suggests that almost no one did. But Miami should expect the festival that bears and profits from its name to get better. That starts with making it part of MMF’s stated mission to showcase more local talent. It starts, let’s hope, next year.