To those who claim that Miami has no rock music scene, search a little bit harder. Arguably the best breakthrough artist of 2006, The Fray, and five-time 2007 Grammy nominee, John Mayer, both rocked packed houses at the BankUnited Center on January 25 and 26 while rock bar Studio A supported the local music scene of the University of Miami on Thursday night.
Mute Math, an erratic indie-alternative band opened for The Fray. Clambering over their instruments and taking apart the drum kit piece by piece to bash each one repeatedly, their 45-minute set was more like watching men in black suits complete an obstacle course than young musicians bust out their riffs. That is, in a good way, of course.
But when The Fray burst onto the stage playing the opening notes to “Over My Head (Cable Car),” the general admission crowd on the floor surged forward, those in the stands stood up and the cameras flashed enough to cause an epileptic seizure.
The band didn’t even need to sing. Playing every song off their double-platinum album “How to Save a Life,” anyone with the CD would have known every word the entire night, but that did not diminish the band’s genuine attitude and performance. They brought out their stage manager, surprised him with a cake, and had the audience sing “Happy Birthday” to him. They tested out new tunes and genuinely cared about their crowd’s reaction.
But no matter how many times one listens to a studio recording, the live version will always trump it and when singer/pianist Isaac Slade took the stage for a solo piano performance of “Hundred,” shock and beauty gripped the crowd until a few cat-calls broke the quite respect. Returning from the encore to play the nostalgic “Trust Me,” they flowed directly into the omnipresent single “How to Save a Life.”
The ending naturally repeats the chorus but they sang it again with the drums and bass dropping out, and once more where the crowd took over, shouting the sincere lyrics and cheering for themselves.
The next night drew out another, though different crowd. Josh Rouse, the opener for John Mayer, strummed his acoustic guitar like he was still in a hundred-person club. The thousands of people singing his songs back to him (out of key) probably terrified him, though for his second night on the tour, his tunes impressed.
The crowd for Mayer was more mature, just like his new album, “Continuum”. He played his older pop hits but focused on his new bluesy tracks, which is a better fit for him, anyways. Each guitarist, including Mayer himself, took extra solos on the heart-wrenching “I’m Gonna Find Another You,” plus the horn section (a trumpet and saxophone) blew killer backup.
He seamlessly extended “Gravitiy” the ‘t-shirt and jeans’ of his repertoire, with jaw-dropping and finger-flying guitar work. The rising and falling intensity of “In Repair” absorbed the audience until the drummer pounded the floor toms, surging back into one last rousing chorus to end the show.
Hilary Saunders can be contacted at email@example.com
Studio A “City Sessions”
Studio A played host to “City Sessions” featuring bands Like the TV Show, The Jean Marie and Van*Gloria. With the show starting at 10pm, Like the TV Show opened the set with an Incubus-like feel. Fueled by Pabst Blue Ribbon drink specials and feelings of a high-school dance where everyone knows each other, (appropriate since the bands are comprised of students from UM’s Frost School of Music), five-member band The Jean Marie took the stage around 11:30 pm.
Self-described as a “quasi-intellectual, post punk, art-dance rock group,” the lead singer kept the swiftly moving crowd entertained with his witty comments and Motown-esque voice while the base player interested all with his skills as an impromptu drummer. After a 45 minute set filled with electronic infused tunes and sweating bodies, Van*Gloria took the stage as the final act for the night. Capitalizing on their a-typical style, all members sported a seemingly 80s sequined jumpsuits sans a visible zipper and plus the signature V* band logo. The setlist included a mix of slow emotional anthems and head-banging electronic supported songs.
While the bands rolled out their instruments, the crowd continued dancing and writhing to the music until about three in the morning-just another night at Studio A.
For more information about any of the bands visit their websites.
www.vangloria.net, www.thejeanmarie.com, myspace.com/LikeTheTVShow. For schedules of other rockin bands at Studio A check out www.studioa.com
Joanna Davila can be firstname.lastname@example.org