Best Live Act 2015 | Bobby Lee Rodgers | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

It's no coincidence that Bobby Lee Rodgers is always being booked along the coast of South Florida. From opening at the Fillmore for Dave Chappelle or at Revolution for Les Claypool, whether alone or as the Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, he always brings it. Jamming out on his blues guitar, smiling throughout his sets, the native Georgian but current Broward County resident always has the energy to get the crowd dancing. Get to the venue early.

The Sunny Devilles, a Boca-based hip-hop duo consisting of Tanner Kauffman and James Bauer that adds jazzy soul to its beats and lyrics, have been a welcome addition to the South Florida hip-hop scene. The two musicians, who met while skipping class in high school, draw on a wide range of genres outside of hip-hop on their debut album, In Search Of..., which features everything from synthesizers to saxophones. More for conscious hip-hop heads than house-party jams, the album, Kauffman says, is "reclusive. It's more for something you listen to when you are by yourself, when you are in a rut and need to get out of it." After busily touring South Florida, the group recently brought its chilled-out funk style to other parts of the country, making sure other towns get to see that South Florida's hip-hop scene is far more diverse than generally depicted. Strip clubs and hustlers are still cool, but there's much more going on here, as the Sunny Devilles easily prove.

Readers' Choice: Rick Ross

Ever watch a man perform a noise set while he's sitting on a toilet and taking care of business? No? Well, we feel damned sorry for you then, because this is what art is all about — taking dirty risks. Robert Wilson Brantley III is also known by a less regal title: Human Fluid Rot. It is under that moniker that he shits and turns knobs for thrilled onlookers. That's not his only schtick, though. We can't understate how interesting and engaging his performances are. He just completed a collabo track with Crust Girls, out online or available soon on eight-track, and he's "bending new instruments" for his live sets. But this Pompano Beach dude isn't stopping there. He's got other noise projects coming up: xPARASYTEx with some dudes from Delray, a two-piece project grossly called GIRLPARTZ with a guy from St. Pete, and SLWMTNGNGBNG with Emile Milgrim of Sweat Records and Quarter Horses. Sure, Brantley plays music in the more traditional sense with Between Enemies, but we suggest you catch him at his danged weirdest.

Its playlist ranges into rock, pop, and singer/songwriter territory, but its roots and heart are in that old-time religion: Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, the Weavers, Joan Baez, and (pre-electric) Dylan. A second, late-blooming career for vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Bill Bowen and Joan Friedenberg (she was a linguistics prof; he was a sportswriter and photojournalist), the band still shows an instructional and reportorial (and decidedly left-wing political) bent. It plays multimedia tribute shows at area schools and libraries, in addition to gigs at the usual bars and not-so-usual assisted living and rehab centers. If its act takes in the Beatles and Elvis, hey: Folks have made those tunes their own, and thus, call it folk.

Masticator is one of the finest names for a band. The word sounds ominous and authoritative, and it means "one who chews or grinds or kneads." It's almost tongue-in-cheek. Almost. Once you hear the West Palm Beach band, though, you'll feel like you're being crushed by the unforgiving choppers of metal in the mouth of music. The band's recently recorded LP, The Basement Murders, may not have a lot to do with the architecture of South Florida, but this release will baptize Florida metalheads with the brutal and inspired sounds of nine new tracks and two re-recordings from its Global Mastication EP. Guitarist Mike Dickson explains the band "broke into the modern wave of extreme in the death metal world while keeping our old school Florida death metal roots attached." Dickson himself just signed an endorsement deal with South Dakota's Blakhart guitars, which he identifies as, "an up-and-coming juggernaut of six-string creation." With songs names like "Chloroform," "Night of Long Knives," and "A Fatal Feasting," it's pretty clear your time in their cellar won't be pretty. But with Masticator luring you into the darkness of their sonic basement, you'll quickly embrace their credo: "Death Is Destiny."

A garage-rock revival washed over South Florida like a tsunami a few years ago, and people have been soaking themselves in its groovy mosh pits since. Though the metaphorical waters have subsided, one band continues to thrive with its own punchy sounds. The Gun Hoes have opened for Trick Daddy and King Khan, but the band is also perfectly comfortable playing tiny, dirty house parties all over town. The band's "mascot" is drummer Anthony Hernandez's hairiest of chests. It's hard to look away from this glistening carpet of human fur, even when you're slamming your sweaty body into another on the dance floor. Singer and guitarist Gabe Miranda is the brains of the band and the main melody maker. Nico Toussaint rounds out the threesome with his cool style and by slappin' da bass. The Gun Hoes have put out music on both Blood Oath Slumber Party and Cheap Miami but are coming out with an EP, Lust at the Beach. The three have plans to keep touring, carrying the psych torch 'round the nation, and getting everyone dancing in its wake.

Readers' Choice: Panic Disorder

Before even hitting a stage with their clean and atmospheric style of "minimalistic pop" electronica, West Palm's Kevin Neal and Sydney Morris were a well-adored hit. That's because of, well, the internet. The duo known as Jude hit the blogs with a click. Many clicks, in fact. Through a random SoundCloud upload, their single "Crystals" made its way onto the radar of plenty of web hot spots — including Interview Magazine and Pigeons and Planes. The two Dreyfoos School of the Arts alumni are young as hell too. But for being on this planet for around 18 years, they really know how to craft some incredibly listenable tunes. People have made Lorde comparisons, but we don't hear it. We hear, like, a millennial's the Sundays — and that's a huge compliment. The two brought their very listenable sound to South by Southwest in Austin this past March, playing a few showcases. You can grab their first album, The Bedroom EP, on the web (duh) and then sit around biting your nails waiting on their next endeavor.

For more than ten years, Broward-based DJ and producer Mister Gray has been slaving away behind the decks to make distinctive and quality dance music. A visit to his Soundcloud page reveals an online party — perfectly packaged and just waiting for the sun to set for booties to drop. You may have seen Mister Gray around town, sporting his signature heavy beard, Ray-Bans, and cap. He's on the rise and versatile, and he's got the whole South Florida scene covered and bouncing with his beats. You can catch him spinning live at places like downtown Miami's E11even, Monarchy in West Palm Beach, and Wall at the W on South Beach. And if there's a man who has put in his time and knows his shit, it's Mister Gray. The unofficial tastemaker of all things EDM, Diplo, even played Ruen and Gray's remix of 2 Chainz's "Birthday Song" on his BBC Radio 1 show Diplo & Friends. Mister Gray has been partnering quite a bit with Ruen, and their most recent release, "Boom Boom," is a veritable Vegas-style club banger. Enjoy him locally before he bursts from the South Florida cocoon and starts DJ'ing far, far away.

Readers' Choice: Misha Samson

This Hollywood duo picked the perfect name for their band, as their latest album, Native Echoes, is ten tracks of Florida sunshine. It is perfect to listen to while cruising along the coast or if you're trapped inland and wish you weren't. From the first listen, you can hear that singer/guitarist Kimmy Drake and drummer Skyler Black seem to be influenced by everyone who was influenced by Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Opener "All My Friends Were Punks" has a hint of the Ramones, and standout "Don't Call Me on the Phone" is the Ronettes by way of Amy Winehouse, while "Gnarly Waves" is just that, the peaceful surf crashing in over an instrumental. Native Echoes is a must for all those who still get giddy when "Be My Baby" comes on the airwaves.

Playing currently in his band Sweet Bronco and previously in Catalonia, Horgan is, year in and year out, probably the single best songwriter in South Florida. Like all great singers, he started early and was lucky enough to have ended up in the Florida Singing Sons, which produced other local success stories like Boots (Beyoncé's producer and songwriter). It should be noted, though, that training alone does not an artist make, and both Horgan's songwriting and voice are far stronger than most in the South Florida scene. Putting his boy-choir skills to work, Horgan has steadily built a massive catalog and toured last year in Sweet Bronco supporting the French singer Soko around the Southeast. The Horganator is currently engaged in a variety of writing and performance projects, working with former Boots bandmate David Barnard and others on new and interesting stuff.

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