When I first got to Eve after 11 Saturday night, the place was surprisingly uncrowded even for a Miami show. I had a brief chat with ANR frontman and northern transplant Michael-John Hancock about how in no other city do the shows start at midnight. I felt for Hancock and bandmate Brian Robertson, who were celebrating the release of their latest album, Stay Kids. Driven by Hancock’s unabashed crooning and dance-or-die drumming and Robertson’s feverish synthery, the 10-track effort places ANR firmly at the head of Miami’s indie rock scene (and in hefty debt to TV On The Radio, among others).
But while the duo is getting props from as far away as London and scoring opening spots for Animal Collective (another obvious influence), they can’t even pack a medium-sized venue in their adopted hometown for the release of a really good album. What’s worse, ANR has the funk, energy, and hooks to give Miami the party it endlessly craves, but at this point in the band’s career the effort seems wasted on a paltry turnout.
I could indict Miami for its lassitude and stingy support of local music and call it a day, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that. After last night — and the many other nights when a local band played a capacity-crowd-worthy show to a half-empty room — I’ve decided that the issue is actually pretty complicated, variables including the venues, the bands, the people, the public transportation system, the layout of the city, on and on and on. In another town, say, Chicago, ANR’s local equivalent would have drawn a standing-room crowd to Eve’s local equivalent. And not only because the fans in Chicago are more passionate or supportive, but also because taking a train to a show is a helluva lot easier than driving, parking, paying the Master Meter in the middle of nofuckingwhere, and hoping no one shatters your windshield for your D&Gs. In Chicago, three inches of snow might have thinned the crowd a bit. Last night in Miami, ten minutes of rain seems to have cut the turnout in half.