This is addressed to everyone who was at the Max Fish pop-up bar in downtown Miami last Friday night, celebrating the ridiculousness of Art Basel Miami Beach. I want to thank the people who continually stepped on my shoes. I want to thank the guy who unintentionally gave me a vertical lap dance while I was literally trapped with nowhere to go. And finally I want to thank the girl in the white jacket who grabbed me in a bear hug and repeatedly thrashed me about the audience for a good minute before depositing me in front of the stage so I could get a better picture. But most of all, I'd like to thank the reason we were all there that night: Gang Gang Dance. You drained me; you really drained me.
For all its charm and good memories, the old PS14 space, resurrected temporarily during Art Basel week as Max Fish Miami in tribute of New York's L.E.S. bar Max Fish's 20th anniversary, has never been the most comfortable place to see a band. With the bathroom directly to the stage's left, the door to the back patio on the right, and the bar sitting just a few yards behind, the audience space is smaller than your average apartment bedroom. So when Gang Gang Dance took the stage there just after 2 a.m., those gathered in front of the performance area were packed tighter than their legs were into their jeans.
Lead singer/howler/chanter Liz Bougatsos — who has the cutest New York accent, by the way — opened the set by tipping the audience off to the nice, vacant lot across the street that was available for discreetly relieving oneself. (Thanks, but the locals know all about the pee lot.) Then the Brooklyn four-piece set forth on a 70-minute set of percussion-heavy jams that were both tribal and synthetic, drawing at times from their most recent album, Saint Dymphna. The set didn't really embrace the poppier moments of that album, though — there was no live performance of the song "House Jam" in America's most house-jam-loving city.
The crowd eventually thinned out, but for those who stuck it out, it was a treat. The sonic trip sounded like the discovery of an Amazonian tribe that somehow relocated to Jupiter and picked up some grime and dub records along the way. By the time it was over, I was pretty much done. Like, done for the week — both in the sense that I felt completely drained afterward and in the sense that I probably wasn't going to enjoy anything for the rest of the weekend quite as much.