Bruise Cruise Kick-Off Photos and Recap

By | February 25th, 2011 | 3 Comments

Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer takes the stage at Grand Central.

So, what’s the best way to survive a nearly nine-hour (largely) garage-rock marathon at Grand Central? Well, common sense says you should start slow, save the craziest energy expenditure for later in the evening, get drunk elsewhere to save money, and don’t dance near, look at, or even breathe in the vicinity of some of the venue’s over-eager security guards.

Many well-meaning music fans ignored at least one or all of these suggestions last night during the on-land kickoff party for the inaugural Bruise Cruise, which departs from Miami this morning. The mega-watt line-up featured virtually every performer slated to perform aboard the Carnival Imagination during the three-day rock cruise: Jacuzzi Boys, Turbo Fruits, Ty Segall, Surfer Blood, the Strange Boys, Thee Oh Sees, Vivian Girls, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, and Black Lips. As such, there was pretty much no skip-able opening act, Miami time wasn’t going to fly, and many, many people actually showed up early … which means that by 12:30 a.m. or so, many had also started to tap out.

Those who made it through to the wee hours, though, were treated to epic musician stage-diving fails, a psychedelic puppet show, and, of course, yet another trademark Crazy Black Lips set. It was a lot to process, so we’ll break it down, yearbook-style, into superlatives.

Band Most in Need of a Smile: Surfer Blood. These South Florida natives went on surprisingly early; one would think their quasi-hometown status would give them a more peak-hour billing. It turned out be for the best, though. Though the youngest and most eager fans near the edge of the stag (bless ‘em) still appreciated the set heavy with material from Astro Coast, the band looked glum throughout it all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Miami Music Festival Wrap-up: We’ll Get ‘Em Next Year

By | November 14th, 2010 | 3 Comments
Cassie Ramone, Vivian Girls Lead Singer

Vivian Girls lead singer and guitarist Cassie Ramone rocking Gemma Lounge for Miami Music Festival.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

The 2010 Miami Music Festival unpromises to be good

By | October 17th, 2010 | 4 Comments

Miami Music Festival Logo

The modern music festival presents the music lover with a dilemma. On the one hand, it is a voracious capitalist beast, sucking money out of attendees’ bank accounts and nipping at the heels of corporate sponsors. In the end, organizers rake in tons of cash, the host city gets a cut, and the bands get a little richer. The attendees – here’s the other hand – they get the memories.

In its second year, the Miami Music Festival (Nov. 11 – 14) amps up the dilemma by cutting the bands out of the profit. In fact, musicians must submit a $35 application fee to be considered for the MMF lineup. At which point MMF forfeits its claim to be a festival and becomes a short-term business model with a great name.

Perhaps the $35 non-refundable application fee explains the dearth of known quantities in the MMF lineup. Among the 400-plus acts, only the Vivian Girls have national clout … and they’re from Brooklyn!

Without the allure of national headliners, one would at least expect to see Miami’s musical core beefing up the lineup. But don’t get excited for Rachel Goodrich, Jessie Jackson, Raffa & Rainer, Sloane Peterson, or Harvey and the Buckets. They’re not playing. When I asked Irwin Kornfeld, MMF’s CEO and organizer, why, he turned the table.

“We don’t choose acts,” he said. “The acts choose us.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Diamonds In The Rough at the Miami Music Festival

By | October 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments

Boasting only one nationally known band and few local stars, the diamonds in the Miami Music Festival lineup are few and far between. Here’s a guide to help you in the treasure hunt. You can also click HERE to find out why all the bands you’d expect or hope to see in the lineup aren’t.


MMF really gets going on Friday, Nov. 12, but there are a few bonus performances on Thursday at Cafeina, in Wynwood.

Mike Mineo @ 11 p.m. (inside) – When Mineo puts his mouth to the mic, make sure to hold onto your pomegranate mojito. Named Best Male Vocalist of 2010 by the Broward New Times, Mineo combines a velvet delivery with a smart, playful approach to songwriting. Mineo’s songs are informed by the classics, showcasing arrangements from blue-eyed soul (“Peaceful Daze”), light jazz fusion (“Easy Livin’”), and classic pop (“Truth Plagues Plato”).

So Timeless @ 11 p.m. (outside) – Smooth Bay Area big band soul-hop with a blaring horn section and organ grinder. So Timeless is a 20-plus piece outfit, and even if the whole crew doesn’t make the trip from the West Coast, you will be dancing. They perform again on Friday at midnight, same place.

Read the rest of this entry »