Miami’s a wild place. It has been since long before Julia Tuttle made it a city, and I suspect it will be as long as it exists. In the ‘20s, carpet-baggers came down by the thousands and flooded the streets with useless land deeds; their counterparts did likewise throughout the Oughts, running our real estate right back into the ground. In between there were the Cocaine Cowboys of the ‘70s, the Marielitos of the ‘80s, and a swarm of models and bohos who saved South Beach from oblivion in the ‘90s. But we’re not here for a history lesson. We’re here to hear what’s what right now, up close and of the moment, whether it’s the latest South Beach swankery, the newest place to get your grub on, or the most with-it visualist in Wynwood. That’s where I come in. My job (if you can call it a job) is to be where the action is, smack in the center of the scrum—and to be coherent enough to report back what I saw. And while my coherence might sometimes be in question, it’s a privileged position, one that I don’t take lightly no matter how weightless the encounter. So from here on out, in this very space, I’ll be doing my very best to keep the reportage as lucid and as timely as possible.
Take late last week. Over a four-day span I had the great good pleasure of getting with The Louvre’s Pamela Golbin, Burn Notice’s Jeffrey Donovan, and Interpol’s Paul Banks, Okay, so I didn’t get to get with Banks, which was odd considering I had no problem getting with Carlos D. when he was with the band. But I did get to get in the pit at Interpol’s Fillmore Gleason show, which put me about as close to the action as one can be without actually standing onstage. And while my time with Golbin was all too brief (we’ve got a follow-up slotted for Wednesday) and my moments with Donovan briefer still (our steamy August nights aren’t the most conducive to interview), the tete-a-tetes were testament to the fact that Miami remains a hotbed of activity—in every imaginable aspect.
At The Fillmore Saturday night the wild threatened to spill out into the teaming streets. Interpol, who’ve been mad at it for 13 years now, had sold out the fabled venue, and not a rabid fan in attendance wasn’t breathless with the thrill of it all.
The band, in turn, seemed almost elated with the crowd’s reaction, and if I’m not mistaken, Banks even cracked a smile or two, despite crooning some of the most relentlessly dour lyrics in alt-popdom. Sure, it was strange seeing them stage without Carlos D., who’d been perhaps one of the band’s most recognizable and propulsive members. But Slint bassist Dave Pajo and careening guitarist Daniel Kessler more than made up for the miss—so much so that by the time they came back with an encore that included “NYC” and “Slow Hands,” one almost forgot that he’d been such an integral part of the equation.
The wild was most in evidence when Banks cracked, “This one gets some inspiration from Miami, for sure.” The song, of course, was the churning “Rest My Chemistry,” which tweaks with a verse that begins “I live my life over cocaine/Just some rage and three kinds of yes.” It’s a line that could epitomize our town, how it became what it became and how it remains what it is—a city built on a reckless variety of affirmatives.
Later, over pizza and cocktails at Rosinella, Butter Gallery’s Paco De La Torre, my concert companion for the evening, jokingly said, “They weren’t bad for a boy band.” And though Banks’ Brady Bunch-like mop-top could be equated with a flavor of the day, the sound and the visions that Interpol unleashed at The Fillmore Gleason were anything but. They were something deep into the excesses that we call Miami.