Miami is a spirit city.
Much like the North & South Poles are as alike as they are polar opposites, Miami mirrors New York.
To it’s inhabitants and visitors, it holds infinite possibilities, cities within cities and endless more communities.
It can make someone as easily as it can crush them, in the same way that it can fulfill someone’s greatest dreams.
It’s inhabitants consist of billionaires in mirror covered skyscrapers, the homeless in whatever shelter they can find for the night; the dreamers as equally as the depraved.
The difference between the both however, lies in opportunities. Where New York thrives in musical culture, and endless possibilities, Miami is both afforded, and not afforded this essential luxury. Instead, the opportunities are given to those who can seize it. Who can see the city within one, and give a chance to those inhabitants.
This, is what the North Miami Beach Bandshell is. Located in literal Northern Miami Beach, it’s mini-Palladium like architecture captures the art-deco futurism that was somehow lost along the way, becoming a treasure nestled just a little bit North of The Fillmore.
In that sense, where the Fillmore is the brother gone modest businessman, the Bandshell is it’s beach-dwelling brother. The one that sits at the shore and watches as the Earth moves around him, inviting everyone else to do the same.
Underneath beautifully stretched fairy lights harboring a disco ball and a both professional and oddly patio like atmosphere, is where the Rhythm Foundation calls a base camp to give Miami a chance at seeing an incredible act that they might otherwise not be able to.
But before the main event, comes the tantalizing opener that lures people from their enormous isolating apartments by the sea.
Enter Maco Monthervil the singer, accompanied by Jason Alexander on acoustic guitarist provided the glue that brought the diverse audience together.
One of the cities, and primarily South Beach’s, main difficulties has always been being in attendance but not present.
Bewildering a thought as that is, amidst the lavish parties and brilliant opportunities given to the Southern lights, those who partake in the above example often respect the invite more than the actual experience, and therefore miss an artist that may have changed someone’s life.
It’s one of the reasons the Bandshell is so incredibly important, as it does afford acts such as Monthervil a platform to be fully appreciated.
The duo’s combined talents were the kind of sweet treat that is hard to come by, as much as it is honest, with Monthervil often adopting a kind of Robert Smith-like shyness in his demeanor, all the while letting his voice exude a confidence that was previously only thought to be limited to crooners.
It’s another of the vocalists talents, combining a sublime mixture of warmth and humbleness (as well as humor, shown in double entendre track “You Never Came For Me”, with the meaning being much more NSFW), like hearing a friend sing for the first time and being undeniably proud of the outcome. It’s artists like him that the world needs more of, and you can only hope doesn’t slip through the too wide cracks.
As Monthervil & Alexander left to deserved applause, the disco ball wound down and the beach winds settling into the open air auditorium signaling all who were ready to sway, coming swiftly and without hesitation.
Entering to a hero’s welcome, Rhye opened with “Verse”, horns guiding the acoustic strings without error.
It’s why Rhye excels so greatly in what they do. Coming off the heels of groups such as the xx and James Blake, Rhye refuses to repeat the formula & fit into a genre or sub-genre but rather, completely change the formula. The important distinction being, none of the players ever overcome the other, offering sweet compliments by sound.
One of the best examples of this being in crowd-favorite “The Fall”, the song itself being steady & a slow burn, changed into an increasing sway of build-up and tension, all with just the workings of strings and drums.
It’s truly a sight to behold, & one that is isn’t taken for granted as the night progresses, watching vocalist Milosh’s range never break or falter, despite having been on a boat for 3 days (apologising to the crowd before one of the tracks).
The apology was unnecessary, as Rhye continued to shine brighter than the overhead disco ball.
Perhaps the greatest underrated ability of the group comes in their comprehension of a moment. From the eyes of a lover waking up in the morning to see their soul mate looking into theirs, the drops of rain in a puddle as they fall; the way a person can see a moment and be the only witness of it in the early morning hours. You can feel each of these moments throughout their songs, a trait only Radiohead has successfully been able to pull off, but sadly are occasionally trumped by their over-assurance.
Rhye’s humble eagerness keep them at a beautiful level, and one that has them in perfect synchronization, breezing with ease through their multiple genre flows, taking a little bit of jazz, classic soul/R&B and even swing, carrying over to “Woman”, with hints of Portishead type electronica. All the while, never making it feel too cramped, allowing you into their educational flow of music whenever you want to hop into the waters.
Or, in the case of “Last Dance”, slowly immerse yourself in them, the track accompanied by a build-up of immense power integrating gentle tension with romance.
It’s an element that, before the group made their power known, only Sade was known to have accurately been able to perform; with vocals smooth as glass and just as strong. It isn’t just Milosh that sparkles, but the group as a whole, with both of Rhye’s amazing string players, Thomas Lea (violin) and Claire Courchene (who doubled for both cello and trombone), taking center stage to the crowd’s awe, Milosh stepping away a few times to accompany them on a drum, or letting them glisten.
During this demonstration of progression, the band treated the crowd to two new songs, the first being a 7 minute epic that brought lovers of all ages into an instant slow dance.
It’s again one of the many moments where you see just how tight and well oiled the group are, taking cues and remaining in the mood of the song without so much as a word, making violins sound like acoustic guitars, and vice versa, as well as a modest keyboard resemble a church organ, done extraordinarily by keyboardist Ben Schwier, Zach Morillo (drums) and Itai Shapira (guitars).
The question of obvious skill isn’t the point in question, as it goes without saying. However, to change the instrument through just manipulation of sound and ear and somehow remaining to keep the spirit of that note onward is the sign of creativity at it’s finest, shown in fan favorite, “The Fall”, the track which garnered the group it’s initial and more than well deserved attention.
Capping off the band’s 10 track set with “Hunger”, a both interesting and fitting end, the group’s ever diverse range expanded even more, nodding on classic and old-school funk, harkening back to Marvin Gaye’s beginnings.
The infectious soul spread throughout the crowd as the track resulted in a 10 minute extension (and afterward, a raucous demand for an encore), resulting in a dance off between a Latino and African-American man, prompting a mosh like space opening in the center of the dance floor.
Here, it’s easy to make an analogy to the current political situation in the country, as easy as it is to highlight racial inequality. But, just as with concerts, this isn’t the time, nor place.
Not in ignorance to the subject, but to highlight the one exception where it doesn’t happen. Concerts, and music as a whole, is a place where color, race and ethnicity cease to exist or even matter. It’s a place where you can kiss a person you’ve never met, as much as it can be a place where you meet your soul mate.
It’s a venue where the poor man and the rich dance equally, and no matter your party affiliation, you are equals. Just two individuals dancing to a band you’re grateful to be viewing.
It can be your first dance, as much as your last. And in a world of uncertainty, we all need to dance a little.