It was reported recently that actors Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are reuniting to film “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” the third installment in the “Bill & Ted” series. The 1989 original film saw Reeves and Winter portray a couple of California high school slackers who dream of becoming rock stars. When the likelihood of flunking a final history exam most heinously threatens their lifestyle, they are visited by a futuristic character at a Circle K who stresses the importance of passing this particular test. Apparently the future of mankind depends on it (because Bill & Ted are, like, the Chosen Ones, dude.)
The pair travel through time in a telephone booth to prepare for the exam by meeting up with the likes of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Freud, Mozart, and Lincoln and bringing these historical characters to present day San Dimas, California.
Cue the space-time continuum high jinks.
News of this upcoming film prompted me to think, not what I feel about Keanu Reeves using the term “bodacious” in 2018, but about time-travel and what-ifs, as in,
What if I could travel in a time machine?
Where would I go?
The answer is simple really.
At this very moment, I would go back to this very day, 50 years ago, May 18th, 1968.
Gulfstream Park, …
Hallandale, Florida, …
the site of The Miami Pop Festival.
The Miami Pop Festival was the first of its kind on the East Coast. Co-founder Michael Lang, a New Yorker who had settled in Coconut Grove and ran a head shop, and Ric O’Barry, a dolphin trainer at the Miami Seaquarium, decided to partner up and bring a music festival to Miami because – I don’t know – it was the 60s and it would be a groovy thing to do (?).
For Lang, the festival served as something of a test run; he would go on to co-produce Woodstock, in August 1969.
Now let me indulge some more in my time-travel fantasy ∼∼∼∼∼∼∼
Once I arrive at Gulfstream Park, I would take a seat near one of the two flatbed trucks that were rented to serve as a performance stage. Just after noon, I’d listen to the trippy musical rants of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, get my R&B fix with John Lee Hooker and Chuck Berry, then I’d persuade someone to save my spot, go for a snow cone, and come back for the headliner, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
In the book, Woodstock Festival Remembered, Michael Lang remarked about the Miami Pops Festival:
It was going to be a two-day event; two shows a day, afternoon and evening. We rented out booths to sell head-shop gear and assorted psychedelia. We managed to get everything arranged and the crowds came. After the music began we realized somebody had forgotten to pick up [Jimi] Hendrix at the airport. I sent cars out to get him, but Jimi had gotten impatient and decided to rent a helicopter. This turned out to be beautiful. Just as Jimi was due to go on stage and we were going berserk, this helicopter came hovering over the stage…
Hendrix was fresh off his US festival debut performance at the Monterrey Pop Festival the year before and his debut LP, the masterful and incomparable Are You Experienced (1967). It’s fair to say he was the biggest rock star of the moment.
This electrifying performance would be one of Hendrix’s most memorable shows. The set list would include Hey Joe, Purple Haze, Foxey Lady, and Hear my Train a Comin’.
By the fifth song, I would pump my fist when Hendrix announces to the crowd that one of the amplifiers had blown out:
It’s really very bad trying to play on ashes. That’s all that’s left. Nothing but ashes.
The second day of the festival was canceled early by the organizers due to rain. Yet Hendrix wasn’t discouraged. He reportedly was inspired to write “Rainy Day Dream Away” which was featured on his third album Electric Ladyland (1968).
Look, I get it, Woodstock was and remains the mother of all music festivals, but it was the Miami Pop Festival that established the roots.
Or as Michael Lang once claimed:
This is where the seeds to Woodstock were sown.
Fortunately, you have a chance to time-travel too. Sort of. The HistoryMiami museum will launch a new exhibition this weekend titled “Miami Rocks” to honor the 50-year anniversary of the Miami Pop Festival. The exhibition will run until September 30, 2018.
(Photo credit for the above pictures belongs, with all due respect, to Ken Davidoff.)
Here is the virtuoso performing Foxey Lady 50 years ago today.
Black is the color of night, of cool, of darkness, of the opaque, of the unknown. Black is the color of the galaxy, the pigmentation of the space between the planets and the stars and the comets and the objects that we have yet to identify. Black is the polar opposite of white, and it was the predominant color at the Radiohead concert last Thursday in Miami, where the band opened its 2017 tour.
Fans wore black. T-shirts, blouses, pants, jackets, caps. I wore black. My wife wore black. We were geared for a dark evening.
If Radiohead were a time of day, they would lie somewhere between dusk and dawn. This is where Radiohead resides. They make melodies and sounds and noise that reverberates, coagulates, and then secretes into your soul before the sun’s first rays poke out.
It was Radiohead that helped me cope with my father’s battle with lung cancer in the early 2000s (the other band was Rage Against the Machine.)
In the early 1990s, Radiohead released PABLO HONEY, unarguably their most “conventional” album (it features “Creep,” a wonderful song that they refuse to play live anymore). Then they began to detour a little with the aptly named THE BENDS (1995) and OK COMPUTER (1997), which launched them into rock stardom alongside their contemporaries. But in this author’s humble opinion, it was the back-to-back releases of KID A (2000) and AMNESIAC (2001) that fired them through the ozone layer and into the dark where they remain, occasionally orbiting the Earth and sometimes drifting close enough for us to catch a glimpse.
Last week when the lights in the arena began to dim, an ominous hum sounded over the speakers, like the dial tone of an old telephone. “They’re here,” I said to my wife, sounding oddly similar to that young girl in the movie “Poltergeist.”
But these were not spirits. This was Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, and Phil Selway.
We stood, all of us, in black attire, and welcomed the English quintet with howls befitting a rout of wolves on a full moon.
They opened the show with a gradual lift-off into Daydreaming from their latest album, A MOON SHAPED POOL (2016), a soft tiptoe of a song between a state of consciousness and sub-consciousness, between the darkness of sleep and the brightness of a dream, cracking an idyllic tone for the rest of the evening, which was beautiful, eerie, melancholic and sublime.
Through a 24-song well balanced set across their entire songbook including Idioteque, Lotus Flower, Weird Fishes, No Surprises, Fake Plastic Trees, and You and Whose Army, Radiohead pulled the crowd a step closer, inviting us to a place brighter than the blackness that was all around us.
(I bought a new shirt. It is gray.)
Full Set List (Miami, 3/30/2017)
Song / ALBUM / Year
- Daydreaming / MOON SHAPED POOL / 2016
- Desert Island Disk / MOON SHAPED POOL / 2016
- Ful Stop / MOON SHAPED POOL / 2016
- Airbag / OK COMPUTER / 1997
- Morning Bell / KID A / 2000
- Climbing Up the Walls / OK COMPUTER / 1997
- All I Need / IN RAINBOWS / 2007
- Videotape / IN RAINBOWS / 2007
- Let Down / OK COMPUTER / 1997
- I Might Be Wrong / AMNESIAC / 2001
- Lotus Flower / KING OF LIMBS / 2011
- Identikit / MOON SHAPED POOL / 2016
- Idioteque / KID A / 2000
- Nude / IN RAINBOWS / 2007
- Weird Fishes/Arpeggi / IN RAINBOWS / 2007
- The Numbers / MOON SHAPED POOL / 2016
- How to Disappear Completely / KID A / 2000
- No Surprises / OK COMPUTER / 1997
- Burn the Witch / MOON SHAPED POOL / 2016
- Reckoner / IN RAINBOWS / 2007
- Fake Plastic Trees / THE BENDS / 1995
- The Tourist / OK COMPUTER / 1997
- You and Whose Army? / AMNESIAC / 2001
- BodySnatchers / IN RAINBOWS / 2007
Copyright © 2017 Long Play Miami
I have, as I grow older, few priorities that can compare to listening to live music. Sure, my wife and kids top that list. There’s also my home, my health, my business, my vinyl collection, a good day at the beach, a favorite episode of Seinfeld, and almost anything written by Philip Roth. But tagging just behind, within eyesight (or earshot), is live music.
I can say with certainty that this passion began to develop listening to live albums, and specifically (i.e., ad nauseam), Rush’s Exit Stage Left (1981), U2 Live at Red Rocks (1983), and Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense (1984).
But this all went next-level on March 27th 1984.
I was 13 years old meandering about at a younger cousin’s birthday party when my aunt and her oldest daughter approached me and said, “Hey, we have an extra ticket to the Duran Duran concert, wanna come?” Three hours later, I was sitting at the edge of my ticketed seat at the Hollywood Sportatorium when the lights dropped and in the dark, with the crowd noise rising, the band harmonized the lyrics, Please Please Tell Me Now (from Is There Something I Should Know). Then all at once, the lights returned, the drum kicked in with the bass and the guitar, and Simon LeBon, John Taylor and Andy Taylor sprinted to the edge of the stage. Bam! just like that, I was hooked.
In my lifetime, I’ve attended over 60 concerts. It’s not a record for the record books but that’s a lot of live music. So when my wife heckled me one night late last year that we didn’t attend any concerts in 2015 (an absolute rarity in my house), I set upon a mission to get to as many shows as physically possible this year.
The first couple of months of 2016 were silent. Then it started in March.
When New Order released its compilation album Substance in the summer of 1987, I took hold of it and played it on my Sony Walkman till my ears popped. The band’s up-beat, industrial sound knocked the 80s melancholy genre (e.g., The Smiths) on its ass. I saw New Order in concert in 1989 in Miami but was underwhelmed (the lead singer Bernard Sumner was way off his game; one rumor circling about was that he was on drugs, but then again it was the 80s in Miami so anyone physically and/or audibly distorted at any given moment was shrugged off with a “yeah, he’s just high on coke.”
New Order returned to the Fillmore in Miami Beach this past March. (My wife missed the show. It was Spring Break week and she had traveled with the kids to visit family in Bogota). I cut off work early, picked up my brother in law and we headed to the Fillmore, and found an open spot among the standing room general admission crowd.
New Order appeared a little past 9:30 PM silhouetted by a flood of technicolor. But the band, off the heels of a new album, started with songs that had most of us perplexed and antsy with anticipation for the songs we came to hear. About halfway through, lead singer Sumner sensed the fading enthusiasm:
I think this is the 1st American show that no one is smoking pot.
Not that I condone smoking pot. (ahem)
Then they played their hit song Bizarre Love Triangle. At which point I wrote a note in my iPhone: “Crowd erupts, lights up, and so begins the rest of the show.”
Perfect Kiss, Truth Faith, Temptation, the hits kept coming. The first set ended around 11 PM. A minute later, they returned and performed back-to-back tributes to their older sibling, Joy Division with Atmosphere and Love Will Tear Us Apart.
When it ended with their 1983 hit Blue Monday, I was numb with a nostalgia for my teenage years that I had long ago forgotten.
Sometimes fate is your best friend for an afternoon.
Four days after New Order (my wife still away), through the power of Facebook, I scored a one-day pass to the last day of this annual EDM festival in downtown Miami.
The very long, dizzying arc of that afternoon’s narrative can be summed up like this: big crowd, young crowd, elated crowd, sweaty crowd, dancing crowd, and repeat in a perpetual ebb and flow of drum beats, sun glasses, furry back packs, flags, leather, lace, skin, hair, colors, sounds, sun, moon, stars, and magic.
I bought a hat. I drank lots of Heinekens. And I rode the heart thumping and mind blowing experience that is Ultra all the way back from where I was.
(Bucket list item checked off).
In the 90s there were two rock bands: Pearl Jam and Nirvana . The path of one of those bands was cut short. Another one survived and endured. [update: In hindsight, actually there were three bands. My original post embarrassingly excluded the Red Hot Chili Peppers).
My wife and I caught Pearl Jam’s second show of their 2016 tour at the American Airlines Arena in April, and damn were they good. We didn’t know all the songs but the ones we knew we sang the shit out of them. Among the countless highlights were [a] during the encore when Eddie Vedder said the last time he saw Pink Floyd was in Miami (March 30th, 1994, to be exact), honored Roger Waters’ dedication and contributions to war veterans, and then, gifted the 18,000 in attendance with an inspiring rendition of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb that had everyone feeling just like two balloons; and [b] the band roaring through Neil Young’s Rocking in the Free World, a banging show-closer when they were joined onstage by wheel chair rugby player Richard Shupan.
When the singing stopped, Vedder didn’t drop the mic but slammed it on the stage floor as if to say, Miami, Thank You, We Are Done!
One additional highlight: the closing minutes of Jeremy.
Around 2004, a taco shop opened on the corner of Biscayne Blvd and 64th St that sold among its menu items an outstanding fish taco made with beer-battered tilapia. I love fish tacos and it turns out that so does Iggy Pop. He was a regular there. But for a fleeting moment when I watched him drive away in his Cadillac, he and I never really crossed paths. Either too late, too early, I always missed him.
So when it was announced that he would be touring for his most recent album Post Pop Depression with a stop at the Fillmore in Miami Beach, missing him was not an option. I bought two tickets for a Tuesday night show.
We arrived at the venue with few expectations except that my wife was a little nervous. Iggy Pop shows from the 70s and 80s were once wild and bordering on violent, so said the internet.
They opened with the brilliant Lust for Life.
Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And a flesh machine
He’s gonna do another strip tease
Watching Iggy Pop move is dazzling; jerking his aging body around the stage like a ragged doll being shaken by an invisible hand. But this is no puppet. In fact, he’s pulling all the strings and drawing the crowd towards him. You just can’t keep your eyes away.
When he was ready to greet the audience, he said:
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck…
The crowd chanted along.Talk about breaking the ice.
You’re a good-natured crowd.
If you want to bum rush the stage, I certainly will not object.
Through the next two hours the band performed a non stop string of new music and old classics including China Girl, Repo Man, The Passenger, and one of my personal favorites, Night Clubbing.
Past the halfway point of the show, he murmured, fuck it, I’m going in, and stepped down onto the floor. He weaved through the audience with a spotlight trailing him. We were in the mezzanine section and had to stand on our tippy toes to get a peak at the diminutive (5’6″) punk rocker dancing through the crowd.
Suddenly, to my surprise, he re-appeared and worked his way towards our section. Those times I missed him at the taco shop were long gone. Here he was. What did we do? – bum rushed the Godfather of Punk as he sang Fall In Love With Me.
That’s it for this long post. Part 2 will be written at a future, to be determined date, and will include, but not be limited to, The Cure.
update: The Psychedelic Furs, Louie CK, Bob Dylan.
Copyright © 2016 Long Play Miami
Music festivals conjure up visions of Woodstock and Monterrey Pop, tales of Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, and vaguely lucid memories of Voodoo and Langerado (oh how I miss Langerado). Rhythm Foundation each year does its part to contribute to the music festival quilt of America with its own very distinctive, very intimate Heineken TransAtlantic Music Festival. Combing the world for innovative musicians, they have for years fashioned a program that meshes with Miami’s diverse music appetite. This year marks the 13th year for TransAtlantic, a two-day affair set for this Friday and Saturday at the North Beach Bandshell on 73rd and Collins Ave. I’ve been attending this festival for years, since before my kids were born (they are 9 and 7 now) and always come away with good memories. Past performers include Aterciopelados, Sidestepper, Jorge Drexler, Seu Jorge, Amadou and Mariam, and Zero 7.
Here’s a preview of this year’s intriguing lineup.
Performing on Friday April 10th:
In this age of fusion, sampling and copycat acts, it is a real pleasure when purity shines through. Puerto Candelaria at its core is a Cumbia band from Medellin, Colombia, and they celebrate their ancestral roots with a dose of theatric, surreal flair that reminds one of the magical realism found in a Garcia Marquez passage.
This New York instrumental band first performed at TransAtlantic in 2009, and they don’t travel light. Eleven members, lots of horns and percussions. Their music sounds like extended reflections on retro cop show theme songs. No wonder they have been described as a “70s Psychedelic” band. I like the 70s. I like psychedelic. And I grew up on Starsky & Hutch so I’m looking forward to hearing them blast away on Friday night.
On tap for Saturday April 11th:
French born. Chilean roots. The daughter of exiles from the Pinochet regime, Ms. Tijoux embodies the gulf between the developed and the developing world with a hip hop bravado that pops like Missy Elliott and crackles like Lauryn Hill. Her “1977” track (the year she was born) was featured in a Breaking Bad episode. (Remember the Mike & Jesse day-long money pick up sequence?) She made NPR’s 2012 list of Best Latin Alternative Music of the Year in 2012 (“Las Cosas Por Su Nombre”) and has continued to be featured there. She is a star and she’ll be tearing it down on Saturday night.
Brother and sister duos worth there place are rare in music. The Carpenters? Pass. The White Stripes? You had us fooled for a while. Wild Belle is a brother-sister music act from Chicago that draws from reggae and paisley pop. Brother Eliot is the instrumentalist (he usually bounces between the piano and the saxophone) while sister Natalie delivers vocals with a subdued Bond girl quality to her. Their music is shag carpet cool.
Finally, each night will also feature a local band: MY DEER on Friday night and BLUE JAY on Saturday. Both are newcomers to the local indie scene. This is another fine thing Rhythm Foundation does well. No matter where the transatlantic flights take them, they never forget their roots.
For more info, visit this link.
Bob Marley had a mystical way of lifting the human spirit. He did this for so many downtrodden folks in the Trenchtown slums of Kingston, Jamaica. Later, after signing with UK’s Island Records, he exported his message to the rest of the world. That message evolved over the years from bringing awareness to the poor and marginalized to one of standing up for peace and freedom.
From about 1965 until his unfortunately premature death in 1981 at the age of 36, Marley carried the spiritual torch of his “chants” for so many the world over through reggae and ska music. (Try finding a single place in the planet that has never heard of Bob Marley.)
Now we have a chance, if only brief, to witness a piece of Marley’s life and indulge in his massive appeal. HistoryMiami is hosting a new exhibit – Bob Marley Messenger – that was curated by the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibit runs from October 10th, 2013 thru January 5th, 2014.
Miami is the exhibit’s last stop before it heads for permanent residence in Kingston, Jamaica, and follows Marley’s life through photographs, artifacts, and video installations in a free-flowing layout (kudos to local architect Shulman + Assoc.) that immerses the viewer instantly and then, again and again, in smaller parts, into the richly textured life of the late icon.
There’s even a few interactive stations featuring reggae drum beat machines and drum sets where adults and children alike can enjoy the one good thing about music –
When it hits you (you feel no pain).
For more details, visit HistoryMiami’s website: http://www.historymiami.org/
Here’s Bob Marley performing his 1973 hit Trenchtown Rock.
I can say without any hesitation that The Police held the distinct honor of being my favorite rock group when I was a kid. A poster of Sting, Andy and Stewart was tacked on my bedroom wall throughout most of the 80s. I bought myself a bass guitar at Carroll Music on Bird Road simply to learn the bass line from Roxanne, one of the greatest songs about a street-walker ever composed. Then MTV enabled audio and visual to come together in the form of music videos and by 1983, The Police’s Every Breath You Take, King of Pain, and Synchronicity II became must-see TV.
The 80s rocked.
My introduction to The Police was GHOST IN THE MACHINE (1981) and specifically the edgy rock-reggae Spirits in the Material World. Two years later, they released SYNCHRONICITY (1983) which cemented them as kings of my rock spectrum and a place on my bedroom wall of fame. And then I got my hands on OUTLANDOS D’AMOUR (1978), the band’s debut album which featured them in their most primitive ska-punkishness; it remains in the rotation on the home vinyl playlist.
The Police had a short life together: about six years (1977-83). In that time, they released 5 albums, each of them loaded with memorable songs. They could have ruled the rock world for years but following SYNCHRONICITY, egos collided and the band split, leaving millions of fans wondering, what now?
Sting went on to a successful solo career in the 1990s but regretful film-acting ventures (Dune, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen). Guitarist Andy Summers stayed active in the music scene but maintained a low profile. His work gravitated more towards jazz. Drummer Stewart Copeland shifted to composing scores and soundtracks for dozens of films and TV shows. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for writing the score for the Francis Ford Coppola film, Rumblefish.
Then in 2007, following a surprise reunion performance at the Grammys, Sting agreed to reunite with his former bandmates for a worldwide reunion tour. And Miami was fortunate to host the trio on July 10, 2007 at the most accommodating open-air venue in South Florida – Dolphin Stadium. My wife (about 4 months pregnant at the time with our second child) and I stood and swayed and sang all night on the center floor about 20 rows from the stage. The band was in sync throughout the show and they displayed genuine affection and enjoyment playing together on tour since 1984!
Damn long time to wait but hell,… when the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around.
Here is their amazing setlist from that July evening in Miami:
1. Message in a Bottle
2. Synchronicity II
3. Walking on the Moon
4. Voices Inside My Head
5. When the World Is Running Down
6. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
7. Driven to Tears
8. Truth Hits Everybody
9. The Bed’s Too Big Without You
10. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
11. Wrapped Around Your Finger
12. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
13. Invisible Sun
14. Walking in Your Footsteps
15. Can’t Stand Losing You
16. Reggatta de Blanc
18. King of Pain
19. So Lonely
20. Every Breath You Take
21. Next to You
Note: One year ago, in November of 2012, word was spreading fast that Lou Reed would be performing in an inaugural music festival to take place in downtown Miami. Sadly the event was canceled but ever more remorsefully, Mr. Reed passed away on October 27, 2013 due to complications from a recent liver transplant. The post below seems so outdated and obsolete but I refuse to delete it from the blog. RIP Lou.
Originally published on November 2, 2012
You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why.
Lou Reed is coming to town!
Reed, that icon of (post) punk, performance art, and glam rock, that godfather of street cred, will be performing in Miami for the first time since… well, lets just say Bill Clinton was President and Don Shula still coached the Dolphins (if my research is correct). Plain and simple, the dude doesn’t tour.
Reed is the coolest of street cats. Never one to chase commercial success or mainstream acceptance; he just never gave a shit. Early in his music career he was too busy trying to figure himself out to worry about outsiders, and then once he did, he chose the strangest of paths: pioneering progressive glam rock (with David Bowie producing his records in 1972), toying with ‘electronic noise’ before the digital age, composing rock operas, writing “Walk on the Wild Side” and recording the most famous of background vocals by ‘the colored girls’ – doo do doo do doo do do doo .
Indefinable. Uncategorizable. Eccentric.
Most recently, he collaborated with Metallica on a concept album (LuLu) based on – get this – works by an obscure 19th century German playwright. Whatever the intents and purposes, the album, to put it mildly, bombed. (Reed said recently that Metallica fans have threatened to shoot him. But then this: “I don’t have any fans left. Who cares? I’m essentially in this for the fun of it.”).
For the fun of it. That bravado is why Lou Reed still matters.
Reed first began to matter in the mid 1960s when he was rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol, the milk-white-haired grand-daddy of multimedia pop art. Warhol was also known for famous parties at his New York City studio dubbed ‘The Factory’ which regularly drew hundreds of artists, celebrities, and “it” people for festive, creative debauchery all curated by Warhol himself. It was there that Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker started The Velvet Underground which from 1966 to 1970, explored through their avant-garde music, the darker, grittier side of life (drug use, street hustling, flame ins, burn outs). Reed once said, “I put together music about what was really going on in the streets of New York and had some basis in reality”. This was in direct contrast to the psychedelic music originating from the San Francisco hippie movement in those years.
And now just as the holidays approach, Lou Reed is coming to take part in the UR1 Music Festival in Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park on December 8th and 9th with at least 40 other musical acts including the sometimes polemic, always entertaining Kanye West, pre-grunge rockers Jane’s Addiction, and former Gun & Roses guitarist Slash.
We are in for a December treat.
Update – November 30, 2012:
The UR1 Festival was postponed due to ‘inclement weather conditions.’ New dates will be announced shortly so we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Rock & Roll Animal. Stay tuned.