Better Than: Guy Harvey paintings and seashell collections
Fort Lauderdale is perhaps better known for its nickel slots and three-for-one drink specials than its cultural pursuits. But you could have fooled the hundreds of people who attended Friday night's kickoff party for the multimedia extravaganza that was the Red Eye exhibition, held at Broward County's ArtServe space. (It's just a block west from the Hustler emporium on Sunrise.)
In its fourth year, the annual Red Eye show has become the 954's underground art tour de force, showcasing a diverse range of work from lo-brow to surrealistic. There was a film room reeling movies about wastoid ducks getting high on weed and spoken word hosted by the omnipresent open mike host Renda Writer. There was live graffiti and a full-on mariachi band complete with its own troupe of flolkloric backup dancers. There was even a "zen room" with live music from Yanni-style new age players.
But our focus is on the bands set to perform in the auditorium -- local acts Dooms De Pop, Astari Nite, and Confused as Ever were slated to provide the music for a fashion show by local designers. This could have been either intriguing, or profoundly revolting.
Ft. Lauderdale's own Dooms De Pop kicked things off with a boisterous
set of spunky power-punk as models donning colorful botanical fashions
strutted their stuff down the catwalk. The trio unveiled a new track
called "When I'm Bona Fide," and its gallivanting drums and
crunchy guitar licks provided a dramatic contrast to the ladies strutting by who
resembled floral arrangements.
The center of
attraction however, was not the model with the banana leaf blouse, but
rather the band's mustachioed bass player Barnaby
Wile. Every band needs a showboat, and on "Tackle that Baboon," Wile
was up to the task, hippity-hopping across the catwalk with his bass.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Garo Gallo did an excellent job in the
background, straining his guitar licks through various foot pedals. Dude's
a wizard with the wah-wahs, that's for sure.
North Miami Beach's Astari Nite was the ideal fashionista choice to
take the stage next. The band's androgynous lead singer, Mychael Ghost,
filled the room with just enough melodrama as models now paraded around in creations like a wedding dress made of Hefty plastic
garbage bags. Ghost's delivery is uniquely Anglophilic, and taking cues
from Madonna's faux-Brit style, he ends verses with a particular
Bass player R.Furey, the quartet's female answer to
Interpol's Carlos D, did an adequate job holding down the bass rhythms.
But on songs "Prayer for Lovers" and "Forever Yours, Forever Mine" it
was guitarist Albert Grey who dazzled, demonstrating a deft ability at
nailing those darker chords that make post-punk so satisfying.
With appearances at yesterday's St. Petersburg date of the Warped Tour, and a slated gig at the Hot Topic store in
Aventura, we'll fess up to making presumptions about Fort Lauderdale
quartet Confused As Ever. (Teeny-bopper emo-punk, oh no!) Much to
our surprise, the final group of the evening dished out a cohesive set
of poppy, metal-tinged rock that impressed the remaining audience
The band's pint-size lead vocalist, Elana Meair, demonstrated a
remarkable range -- think Evanescence's Amy Lee but more raw -- on the shifting
thrash-to-ballad song "Technical Trainer." When Meair struck one
impossible octave on the bombastic "Subtle Difference," we overheard one
discerning art connoisseur whisper to another, "I'm sold." And so
More engaging evenings like these and Broward County might begin to
lose its drunk-frat-guy- playground reputation. Well done, Red Eye!
Personal Bias: I think Fort Lauderdale is in dire need of its own Basquiat.
Random Detail: Even though the promoters shook us down for some beans
to get through the door, the afterparty across the way at multimedia
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center/warehouse the Bubble had even more fantastic local art to showcase. It was
like a slice of Wynwood right in Ft. Laudy.
By the Way: You still have time to catch the Red Eye "multi-media phenomena" as the show runs at Artserve until August 6.
-- Alex Rendon