Saturday, May 28, 2016

Kiss Them For Me

Apparently it arouses suspicion if I answer an email at 9:45 p.m.

I thought you were out and about every evening. Here it is Friday night and you're answering me. Don't you have a restaurant to review or a gallery opening to attend?

Don't get smart with me, mister. My hired mouth had already met a friend for dinner and I was at home long enough to change clothes and shoes before going to Balliceaux to see Psychic Mirrors, the Miami funk septet I'd so enjoyed dancing to three years ago there.

A greeting at the front door evolved into a philosophical discussion of the myriad benefits of music - intellectually, physiologically, emotionally, spiritually - with the door guy. We only dropped our meeting of the minds when a line began to form to get in.

But not much of a line. Nothing like the line waiting to get into the line to ride the elevator to Quirk's rooftop bar was when I walked to dinner. Or the line for the '90s dance party at the National when I came back. Or even the two-sided line at the club on Harrison, with cops attending both side, on my second time out.

But enough of a line that he went back to work and I headed towards the back.

"Siouxsie!" the booker says, gesturing at my hair. When I don't have a snappy comeback, he prods. "And the Banshees?" like I'm an idiot, which I sort of feel like.

Moving on, we reminisce about how much both of us had gotten off on this band's last show.

Everyone I talk to - the gallerist, the record store employee, the IT guy - is here because these guys are from Miami and we get so little Miami music. Also, they note, Miamians don't even start playing until midnight.

In the meantime, to warm us up DJs are spinning obscure disco records getting the crowd in the mood. It's an odd assortment of people of all ages and colors who have not gone away for the holiday weekend. A guy walks in and his t-shirt tells me we must talk.

Rap - lies = Hip hop

Is it really this simple, I ask. He insists it is, saying that hip hop is about a vocal styling focused on a more laid back lifestyle than rap, one that focuses on kicking it old school and enjoying yourself with good people, not negativity.

Another guy decides to chat me up, but between his West End address, techie job and stiff manner, we're striking out until he asks if I'd like to see a picture of his girlfriend. Sure, why not?

He pulls out a picture of a shiny, red 1972 MGB, fully restored. Instead of fawning over the good-looking car, I tell him I had a 1971 MGB GT and his jaw drops. "Then you have to come for a ride in my car."

From there, we're just two MG nerds, swooning over chokes and lamenting electrical problems. "You know they were all hand-built?" he asks. Do I?

Before he cuts out mid-set, he hands me a card with the Barnes & Noble info scratched out. On the reverse side, he's written, "John 495 8230 MY CARD." Seeing that he's written MY CARD on this card may be the funniest thing I've seen all day.

He scuttles back to the West End and a weekend, he said, of doing chores around the house. Happy Memorial Day.

Once the merch table was being set up, we knew the show couldn't be far behind and if you could have seen the satisfaction on Psychic Mirror's sound guy's face when he looked at the singer just as the other five began playing, you'd have seen a Cheshire cat grin. Balliceaux is a good-sounding room.

I am dancing before the first song reaches the halfway mark and so is the guy beside me.

A song ends. "That song sounded like Steely Dan, didn't it?" Guy Next to Me asks. True enough. Before the set was over, any number of bands had been cannabalized: The Clash (particularly "Rock the Casbah"), all kinds of Stevie Wonder, the Time, maybe a bit of Sheila E. some '80s R & B obscurities.

Endlessly changing influences, the band stays in a constant groove like a disco DJ would have done, leaving very little time to recoup between songs. Most shocking is that some people are actually rooted in place, not moving so much as a shoulder or foot.

The set lasts just over an hour, we scream for one more and they oblige with a "new" song that sounds like '50s do-wop, except done with synth, screaming guitar, bass, keyboard, drums and multiple vocalists, including a woman.

Coming back to Jackson Ward, I spot two students on Marshall Street, each with one end of a white scarf in both hands. Standing under a tree, they are waving the scarves alternately to create a ripple effect and giggling with delight at the results in the warm night air. At 1:30 a.m.

It's only late if you're not out and about.  Let's face it, no one would be the least bit surprised to get an email from me at this hour, now would they?

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