A month ago, two of the most prolific musical brothers in the state, Audio Junkie's Greg and Eddy Alvarez, wrapped up a wild, packed weekend of musical Independence Day fun at Gramps in Miami. Drinks were poured; songs were shared. It got us thinking about our South Florida music scene and how it's blossoming more and more each day.
Why do people keep saying we don't have a strong music scene even though events like that one so obviously prove otherwise? We thought it was about time to point out everything that makes watching and creating and performing music in South Florida so great.
10. We've got diversity.
Diversity is good. It makes you less ignorant and more resilient. Like think about genetic diversity; it allows organisms to adapt and survive.
Often with a booming music scene, like those in Brooklyn or L.A., a region is known for its particular East Coast or West Coast sound. It is what it is, and it's often hard to weed out the cool from the copycats.
Not in South Florida. Our local bands hail from any and every musical background. There's the Latin spice of Suenalo and the experimental sounds of Dim Past, the indie crooning and strumming of Warner Bros.-signed Surfer Blood and the trippy beats of teen-rappers-on-the-rise Denzel Curry and Robb Bank$. South Florida's music is just as assorted as the people who inhabit this swampy land.
9. Cross-county collaborations make us stronger.
Broward and Miami can often feel worlds apart, with a dividing distance you can feel when cursing traffic on I-95. But the separation is slowly but surely being stitched up thanks to some musical alliances that have been made across county lines.
The best example of this is the friendship between Mikey Ramirez of Radio-Active Records and Adam Gersten of Gramps. The two have become leaders in our scene by hosting shows together, doing weekly Friday-night parties along with Benton Galgay, and bringing together our counties like true BFFs.
8. Our record stores are great.
Speaking of Radio-Active Records, let's talk some vinyl! So, no, as a region we probably don't have the most record stores per square hipster. But what we do have is at least one fantastic spot in each county.
Miami has the ever-popular Sweat Records, and Broward has the aforementioned splendor of Radio-Active. And each shop is managed by people who truly believe in our scene and do far more than just sell records. It's all about quality, not quantity, guys!
7. We're getting bigger and better bands on tour.
It used to be that the most frequent acts you'd see actually touring here were the massive stars of the American Airlines Arena, Cruzan Amphitheatre (AKA Coral Sky or Mars or Sound Advice), or BB&T (AKA BankAtlantic) Center. Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, maybe some Green Day, and Dave Matthews Band swung through town. And don't get us wrong -- those shows have their place. But finally, finally, we're beginning to witness a larger influx of popular, but not AAA-popular, indie bands coming this far south, like Arctic Monkeys, Phantogram, Thee Oh Sees, and Animal Collective, to name a few.
6. We've got lovely familiar faces at shows.
People are what make up a community. Thankfully for us, our music scene is composed of folks who really try their best to be there for every little thing all the time.
It's so easy to be familiar with faces at shows because they're always around! Everybody ends up knowing each other no matter where respective musical tastes lie, things overlap. Seeing a great group of fans time and again at the same places demonstrates that we support one another and believe in one anothers' creative aspirations. And that keeps us moving.
5. Places like the Talent Farm and Churchill's Pub.
Both of these institutions thrived for a long time, and though both recently underwent some changes, the people involved show no signs of slowing down.
Sadly, the Talent Farm had to shut its doors at its warehouse location in Pembroke Pines, but as Kevin Burns stated in his recent County Grind interview, he immediately was looking for a new spot to keep the music flowing, and soon after teamed up with Revolution Live. And after countless, "Last Dave Daniel's Churchill's Shows Ever," the place seems to be living on just fine. These venues truly helped shape our scene and will keep doing just that.
4. Being isolated has made us virtuous, excited, and willing to travel.
As most of us know by now, it's not easy for our favorite indie acts to travel all the way down to the tropics and back up again. And though (as noted) that is definitely changing, it will never be a simple task.
We've had to learn the hard way that patience is a virtue, so when great acts finally come 'round, we hold nothing back. It's the double-edged sword of our scene, but bands seem to really appreciate our enthusiasm. And if we're not so lucky and a band travels only as south as Orlando, a good amount of superfans will drive those four hours just for a show. If that's not dedication, then what is?
3. We've got festivals as far as the eye can see.
Audio Junkie's Independence Day Bash was three days of nonstop action with tricounty bands and national acts representing as well as hot dogs, vintage duds, and plenty of other messy high jinks. As we collectively rubbed our sore feet and sat in silence to treat the ringing in our ears, we were also thinking of the next fest to grace our counties.
In October, III Points goes for its second year with a stellar lineup with the likes of Mac DeMarco, Flying Lotus, and Lykke Li. This year, we also had the newish Tortuga Fest, of course, Ultra Music Festival, and SunFest. The International Noise Conference, another huge boon for our area of the Earth, brings in the freakiest acts from all over the country under the aging roof of Churchill's Pub.
2. We are constantly repping our town.
Those that run the shows down here really believe in our potential as a notable musical spot and bands from South Florida aren't ashamed to represent the 954, 561, or 305 out in the rest of the world.
Jacuzzi Boys love to represent the fact that the three of them are from Miami, going so far as to put it on their T-shirts. We are obsessed with our area codes. Our pride is overwhelming.
1. Bands that tour here can't get enough.
We've gotten the pleasure of speaking with some of the great acts coming our way, both in formal interviews and informal chats after shows. We can honestly say that the compliments to our town are usually free-flowing. This makes our hearts glow.
When Froth played both Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the band mentioned these were the members' favorite shows on the tour and promised to pry more West Coast bands out here to give us a chance. Unstoppable Death Machines of Brooklyn seem to love coming back here; Ty Segall's here again this fall; so many others who get a taste can't stop themselves from returning. There is a growing dedication that bands seem have to South Florida. We're holding tight to those relationships and look forward to making new mutual fans with band from all over the place.
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