Last Night: Guy Harvey and the Jameses at the Vagabond, August 13

Guy Harvey
With the Jameses
The Vagabond, Miami
Friday, August 13, 2010

Miami's unkempt beard quotient went through the roof on Friday with two rough-and-tumble indie-rock acts from Palm Beach County and a lot of their friends infiltrating the sleek downtown venue the Vagabond. The occasion: the official release of Guy Harvey's debut seven-inch, "Take Your Time (With Me)"/"Never Seen Snow," by Miami-based Discosoma Records -- a pair of whip-smart anthems with DNA dating back to the heyday of mid-'90s college rock. Although the room was pleasantly populated, it seemed that some of the attendees were eager to grind on the poles when the bass exploded through the speakers between sets.

Guy Harvey's onstage presence has never been imposing, even figuring in drummer Drew Locke and guitarist Devon Nelson beating the snot out of their instruments. With bassist Mike Nadolna playing with his back to the stage and singer/guitarist Adam Perry's eyes as slits, if open at all, the band's charm came from each post-punk meditation's workmanlike precision. No breaks, no banter, no bullshit for the foursome dressed in street clothes with no visible tattoos. And communications via Perry's wry sentiments mostly became casualties because his vocals were woefully low in the mix. Apt perhaps for the seven-inch's B-side, "Never Seen Snow," in which the line "Touch and it's go/and it's touch and it's go/and it's touch but it's mostly go" mirrors what has led past audiences to remark that the band plays "like they don't care."

Agreed, but only in the sense that Guy Harvey is unconcerned what shortsighted critics think about song incubation in a live setting.

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There are too many passionate scribbles of "rising," "merciless," and "energized" and too many mental pictures of members of the Jameses -- fresh from a vociferous, tambourine-banging, synth-cooking set of their own -- placing themselves front and center in the crowd to support their allies and lose their shit. Prime material for said behavior: combining seismic changes and a killer coda, "Deal of the Century" gets a nudge for a future vinyl release. But until then, assembling the exposed opening riff of "Take Your Time (With Me)," settling into a chin-knocking rhythm, and then calling it quits in under two minutes is how to leave a satisfied audience wanting more.

Critic's Notebook

Better than: A certain artist who creates impressive representations of sea life and has sold a T-shirt or two.

Personal bias: I was standing close enough to the band to set my drink on the stage.

Random detail: Each Guy Harvey seven-inch is numbered 1 to 100 and features hand-made, exquisite screen printing.

By the way: Lake Worth musician John Ralston stayed away from dancing on the poles but still seemed to have a good time.

Set lists:

The Jameses:
Fifth Dimension
Dirt Bike
Hanged Man
Rat People
Haunted Rider

Guy Harvey:
Fits & Starts
The Rope
Phone in the Jokes
Never Seen Snow (B-side)
Deal of the Century
Bed Sores
Dog Park
Take Your Time (With Me) (A-side)

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