Four Big Problems With the Miami Music Festival Even the Vivian Girls Can't Fix

The first question out of a lot of folks' mouths will be: "There's a Miami Music Festival?" Update: Does featured act Vivian Girls know there's a Miami Music Festival? 

Yes, now in its second year, the festival appears to be a collection of underutilized venues in and semi-near Miami and a mishmash of talent with a minimal amount of curatorial direction hitting the area November 12-14. Our sister blog Crossfade posted many of the salient details for purchasing tickets yesterday and note that it has its own stage!

Still, County Grind has some concerns about this nascent industry gathering, which will likely attract some biz folk based strictly upon the weather patterns facing the rest of the country in mid-November. Our four major concerns with the approaching festival are as follows:

The Lineup.
A photographer pal sums it up pretty good: "Miami Music

Festival looks even worse than last year's atrocious attempt at a music

festival. Exceptions include: Vivian Girls, Plains, Guy Harvey,

Princeton, and Blond Fuzz." We'll add Mayday, Mike Mineo, Wayside Flyer, the State Of, the Resolvers, Pocket of Lollipops, and a handful of other locals among those worth seeing. The bigger problem is that the Miami Music Festival's site does nothing to indicate that there are any headliners or favorite bands to see in any genre. If the point is to attract all of the worthy local talent, we need only mention Miami faves Jacuzzi Boys, Afrobeta, Beings, and Lil Daggers among the countless acts that any moderately connected local would elect for inclusion. If the point is to showcase national acts, it's going to take more than the Vivian Girls (also coming down for the Bruise Cruise!) for outsiders to take the event seriously. Without some sort of focus, are we to believe that the organizers have any sort of idea who is playing at their own festival? Maybe they watch Miami Herald video clips.

The Venues.

How does it look when a full-on music festival doesn't even use many

of the best venues a city has to offer? Sure, we've got Churchill's,

Bayfront Park, and a few more that regularly book interesting music, but

what about the Vagabond, the Electric Pickle, Grand Central, Mansion,

and, uh, the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater? Social

Distortion is playing at Fillmore Miami on November 13, by the way.

The Layout.
The CMJ Music Marathon in New York has the benefit of the subway; Austin's South by Southwest is centered around two streets that have bars in every storefront. It's still not that easy in either of those cases to see all of the acts you want to see. As the Miami Music Festival map shows, there are clusters of venues on Miami Beach, downtown, Wynwood, and all the way down into South Miami -- 45 in all. Cab fare between a couple of these would be unthinkable, and no one wants to deal with the parking challenges required for venue-hopping, which is supposed to be the point of any good music festival and the means for stumbling upon bands you weren't expecting to hear.

The Schedule.
No day slots on Thursday and Friday? Yes, it's possible that between Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening, with the sprawling layout just mentioned, that visiting even a fraction of the 45 venues is damned near impossible and certainly no fun. Although we wouldn't want to distract people from the zero special events, the zero keynote speakers, and a slate of panels that leaves much to be desired (aside from the "Hip-Hop Power Panel" featuring Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell and the guy who won MTV's From G's to Gents), there's significant evidence that some scheduled music events during a sunny day in Miami might attract a few attendees. We'll see if some substantial day parties emerge beyond the stuff offered at Bayfront Park on Saturday afternoon. "All schedules subject to change." Fingers crossed.   

UPDATE: Or, all of those things (and about 99 more problems) set in a cutesy, hilarious video (thanks, Arielle!):

No Futureheads?!

After all that bellyaching, we'll say that the $25 wristband price for the weekend isn't actually that bad, considering all of the above, compared to the hundreds of dollars an all-event pass will cost you at other music fests. For now, unless we're at Social D, Guy Harvey plays somewhere "TBA" at midnight Friday, and we'll see you at Love Hate for Plains at 10 p.m. on Saturday, then Vivian Girls at Gemma Lounge later that night.

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Reed Fischer
Contact: Reed Fischer