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Concert Review: Glass Candy at Vagabond, September 11

Photo by Michael Maryanoff
Glass Candy
Friday, September 11, 2009
Vagabond, Miami

Better than:
Most live performers I've seen, when it comes to sheer energy, personality, and grit onstage.

Hot damn, did all the hipsters come out of the woodwork for the Glass Candy show on Friday night! I've never seen such a massive turnout for what is still a considerably obscure band (as far as the mainstream is concerned, anyways) and at a venue which normally caters to a smaller indie cognoscenti crowd. I mean, there aren't that many hipsters in downtown Miami, are there? Maybe the hype surrounding Glass Candy simply preceded them that night, or maybe I'm just underestimating the general musical savvy and good taste of Miami's nightlife set.

By midnight the line outside Vagabond had reached critical mass, stretching all the way down NE Miami Ct. The place was practically at wall-to-wall full capacity when I made it in, so I wouldn't be surprised if at least a handful of the additional hundred or so people outside got turned down at the door. Off The Radar's DJ Danny Ashe had the party bumpin' in the front room with a selection of classic and new funky favorites. You can't go wrong with the Vag's Friday night $1 beer specials, of which I partook copious amounts before heading into the main room where Glass Candy would take stage around 1 a.m.

As they kicked off their intense set, the first thing that struck me

about GC is what a different beast they are live than on record. The

somewhat lethargic, Quaalude-hazed sound of their studio recordings

becomes a raging and dynamic sonic bacchanal onstage, with

producer/keyboardist Johnny Jewel manning his synths and hardware with

a certain energetic improvisational flair missing from the more spartan

arrangements of their tracks. Meanwhile vocalist Ida No belts it out

with the greatest vigor while feeding ravenously off the crowd's

energy, like the best of entertainers, oozing pure sex and charisma.

And boy can that girl move! In her '80s leotard, prancing and shaking

it around the stage barefoot, like a Jane Fonda on peyote.

The duo kicked off with some of their most popular material from 2007's B/E/A/T/B/O/X,

an immediate crowd-pleasing move that had the packed roomful of people

bouncing ecstatically from the get-go. Jacked-up and upbeat versions of

"Digital Versicolor," "Beatific," and "Candy Castle" followed by some

older punkier material from their first releases and some stuff from

their 2008 Deep Gems album, like "Geto Boys" and an epic

rendition of the "Miss Broadway" electro-house remix that was easily

the highlight of the night. Here's an act with all the musical talent

and onstage presence of the finest disco-era performers, combined with

all the grit and raw attitude of the punk era's most daring

provocateurs, showing a generation weaned on jaded and frigid DJs how

to really get down. And we love them for it.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Were you there? Is there such a thing as an objectively, empirically, incontrovertibly excellent performance? I believe so.  

Random Detail:

The Vagabond's hipsters love to boogie. Maybe I'm too used to the

minimal techno parties I usually frequent where the dancing quotient is

not as uninhibited, but it's refreshing to see a roomful of people

shaking it unashamedly like it's no one's business.   

By the Way: Can the Vagabond do any wrong in anyone's book? Phenomenal venue, stellar bookings, $1 beer specials. Works for me. 

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Sean Levisman

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