James Bratton and Tom Gorio of Radar vs. Wolf
With boyhaveheart, Danielle Steele, and the Speakeasies
Sweat Records, Miami
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Better Than: Playing musical chairs.
Radar vs. Wolf had it all planned out: They picked out the venue, assembled the line-up, and even made billboard-sized cutouts resembling what they thought to be a "radar" and a "wolf"--more wolf/man, actually--to be displayed as their background setting. A big tub of popcorn was passed around as event-goers took full advantage of the espresso bar at Sweat Records. A hodgepodge of hipsters, parents and spillover from neighboring Churchill's mingled and shopped as they waited patiently for this "Sweet Party" to begin.
First up was boyhaveheart!, a one-man band lead by Ryan Markus on acoustic guitar. Sounding akin to nevershoutnever, he sang about everything from stupid girls to "Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks." But don't be fooled by quirky song titles and lyrics: His music was all heart.
Next up--and quite possibly the standout performance of the night--Radar vs. Wolf took to the stage, life-sized Cardboard in tow. Resembling those funny cutouts you might see at a carnival, they quickly propped them up behind them and began.
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For their first-ever Miami performance, Tom Gorrio and James Bratton had real stage presence. They played like they've been together for years, cleanly mixing acoustics with smooth vocals and a Vampire Weekend-esque vacation vibe. They interacted with the crowd, took votes to see how many people they actually "knew," and even asked the audience to participate in a song and jingle their keys as a background sound effect to go along with the tambourine propped on Gorrio's foot.
They rotated instruments practically every song and at one point Bratton even made a beating drum noise with his mouth as he lightly tapped a drum with wire brushes. The crowd ate it all up, chanting and cheering and at one point even causing Markus to shout "You guys are beautiful," prompting Bratton's witty "Wow, that boy really does have heart" reply. Rather than appearing distracted by all the interchanges, they seemed energized by them, playing song after charge-hitting song, with the ease of pros.
Last on the roster was Danielle Steele and the Speakeasies, a perfect end to the night. Their songs felt almost like lullabies, only heightened by the trumpet and drums. One plucked her S-shaped violin as Steele sang with vocals so harmonious they almost felt like a yodel at times. Strongly resembling a Kate Nash/Regina Spektor/Jolie Holland mishmash, Steele's soft-spoken words were only trumped by her ukulele.
Personal Bias: I enjoy beachy sounding acoustics and good lyrics--and they had both.
Random Detail: It was really hot in there on Saturday. So hot, in fact, that one of the guys in the crowd jokingly offered to leave the room when a band member mentioned it. Zing!
By the Way: Radar vs. Wolf are playing another show--their second in Miami--at Churchill's on Wednesday.