Live music is seen by many students to be as quintessential to the college experience as kegs and class. However, the University of Miami does not have the common bar-hopping scene, in which a blur of live young rock acts and hilariously bad cover bands perform, only to be forgotten when you wake up the next morning with tiny sirens in your ears.
Music in Miami is extremely diverse and segregated, and for what it is worth, this often makes for nights of entertainment that are vivid and memorable. If you like punk, electronica, jazz, hip hop, emo, folk, salsa, metal, anything besides polka and Tibetan chanting, you can probably find it here if you’re willing to search.
The most extensive and popular scene is the one in South Beach that caters to the dance and electronica crowd. While a trance storm thrived here a couple of years ago, it has fortunately died down and made room for house, a little dub and drum ‘n’ bass, and given DJs a freedom to spin more eclectic and complex sets. The turnover rate for clubs on the beach is high, so by the end of the school year, the hippest place at beginning of the semester may be shut down for renovations, money problems, or to have a new trend setter take its place.
Towards the end of last semester, Honey, 645 Washington Ave., was the spot to be for UM students. Drenched in indulgent warm, syrupy yellows, Honey enlists DJs that playfully spin everything from 80s and old school rap to deep house. Opium, 136 Collins Ave., with a lavish and seductive Orient theme, is another place to be seen for both clubbing and dining, with music that usually borders on more progressive house and Latin flavor. For a weekly schedule of everything going down on SoBe check out the thoroughly dope web site www.cooljunkie.com.
For dance fans who just can’t get enough, wait until March, a way off, but definitely worth it. This is when the annual Winter Music Conference swarms the beach and brings every top worldwide DJ and electronica act to the city for four days of exhaustive beats and bliss. The most concentrated event of the WMC is Ultra, a one-day extravaganza that features hundreds of artists performing simultaneously at numerous stages and tents.
Last March’s event hosted artists like Deep Dish, Roni Size, The Crystal Method, Goldie, Diesel Boy, Perry Farrel and Del tha Funkee Homosapien, as well as thousands of the city’s finest girls wearing nothing more than bikinis and body glow paint. If so-called “intelligent dance music” is what you’re craving, check out Pop Life at Piccadilly Gardens, 35 NE 40th St, with resident DJ Le Spam and guest artists like Jega.
If you prefer the sound of guitar and vocals to beats, or if your bank account has been wiped out due to one too many late night bottles of Cristal, Miami has several venues that specialize in quenching the rock appetite, albeit in smaller servings. Churchill’s Pub, 5501 NE 2nd Ave., is a hearty little punk rock dive that is perfect for letting out some aggression, drinking away your sorrows, or just watching a soccer match with the friendly locals. There’s often no cover, the beer is cheap, and the Shepard’s pie is a workingman’s secret. The music ranges from punk to indie rock to reggae funk and is usually loud and raw. With a long history (it’s where Marilyn Manson got his start), there’s occasionally little surprises like ?uestlove from the Roots spinning old soul records on the down low.
If Churchill’s is the Sex Pistols, Revolver, 2826 N. Miami Ave., is the Talking Heads. For those who don’t know, Revolver recently moved from a suave location behind Sunset Place, into the venue that used to be FM. Revolver plays host to many CD release parties, ranging from Moby to the John Spence Blues Explosion, and live acts are often inches away from the saw blade of being the next “cutting edge” big thing. Last semester saw lively performances by Desaparecidos and several emo bands. The place is also known for launching into a full on electro pop dance party that is quite contagious and nostalgic. Venues with larger national acts include the ambitious and fully loaded Billboard Live in SoBe and the Sunrise Musical Theatre in Sunrise.
If you’re car-less or still perplexed by UM’s social structure, swing by the Rathskeller on campus or Titanic Brewery on Ponce De Leon Blvd. for a pitcher (with proper I.D.) and enjoy a performance by various collectives and start-up bands that consist of talented students from UM’s School of Music. The Surfrider Foundation throws parties at the Rat throughout the year that feature refreshing ska and pop punk bands and contests for surf boards and The Miami Hurricane should be hosting a rumored legendary bash as well before winter break.
All in all, make the most of the music scene in Miami as it continues to grow. The only way to help it flourish is to support it. As with everything in college, open your mind to experience, and continue to expand your listening palette as you party and enjoy the palm tree shaded college life of Miami.