Art Basel: Join BlackBook & Mr. X at Grand Central for the Brothers Macklovitch

A mardi gras’ worth of parties are going down in Miami this week for Art Basel, but we can safely say we’ll be helping to throw one of the best and biggest. On Saturday night, Grand Central, in all its lofty, warehouse-y glory, will play host to music’s most beat-obsessed siblings, the Brothers Macklovitch. You don’t want to miss it.

You might know the brothers better for their day jobs. Dave1 is the singing half of Montreal electro-funk duo Chromeo, and his brother, Alain, is better known as A-Trak, scratch guru and founder of Brooklyn-based imprint Fool’s Gold. The event will be the second in the Mr. X series, a new weekly party that kicked off this past Saturday with a rousing set from New York’s very own Japanster, of Le Bain fame. Don’t come expecting your typical South Beach gloss. Grand Central is located in Downtown Miami and comes from the same indie-infatuated hipsters responsible for Poplife. Outdoor patio and bars, plural, sweeten the deal.

Shit pops off at 10pm, and we strongly advise you purchase tickets in advance, as admission will only be guaranteed to ticket holders due to capacity. Also, advance tickets are reduced in price. You can get your tickets here. Be there!

Night of a Thousand Buicks: A High-Speed Chase

It began as many a better Miami night has begun, with a late afternoon interview followed by fine food and drink. In this case, the face-to-face was with Plain White T’s singer-songwriter Tom Higgenson, who was gracious enough to spend some quality pre-show time with me out by the pool at The Mondrian. The fine food and drink came courtesy of none other Daniel Boulud, whose dbBistro is the anchor eatery in the sleek new JW Marriott Marquis, and who’d piled high table-upon-table of his utter delectables for the skyscraping inn’s official opening. Unfortunately, the night would be interrupted by an episode so fraught with drama even jaded ol’ me was somewhat taken aback.

As I’ve mentioned, I drive a ‘76 Buick Regal. It wasn’t in perfect shape when I bought it, but it was restorable, which was my intention from the get. Having an hour to kill between the Marquis and Plain White T’s Grand Central staging, I cruised uptown twenty blocks or so to see a man about some body work. Alas, the cat had left his shop before I arrived and wasn’t answering his phone, so I simply turned around and began slowly making my way back downtown for the show. After all, the event was called Buick Regal Remix, and me being a Buick man, not to mention a new fan of PWT’s, it promised to be a gathering much to my liking.

Then it hit me. Or I should say, he hit me. Hard, and from behind. At what must’ve been 60 miles per hour easy. So hard was I hit that my rear-view mirror was knocked from the windshield into the back seat and the rear-end of my ride literally folded in upon itself like so much cheap origami — no easy feat for a vehicle made of 100% unforgiving Detroit steel.

At first I was a tad shaken, as happens when five-thousand pounds of automobile plows into you. Then, when I saw that the idiot driver was fleeing the scene, I got pissed. So I gave chase. Fast.

And within moments I’d punched my ride back up to 50 and rode the rear of this increasingly frantic convoy.. Immediately I hear a siren, and in an instant I was overtaken by one of Miami’s Finest undercover cops. But 5-0 wasn’t after me; he’d apparently seen the whole smash-up. He passed me in a flash and closed the gap between himself and the bad guy with a quickness I’d thought possible only in action movies. Then the bad guy turned right; so did we. The three of us went screaming west toward I-95. But this stretch of city dead ends at the highway, and west was no way for this bad guy to be trying to escape.

Two terrifying turns later I lost ’em both. So I stopped to see what damage had been done to my ride. Then I hear more squealing of tires and screaming of siren, and when I turned to look they were coming right back at me.

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By the time I jumped back in my ride they’d made another quick turn, so I pulled a U and got back in the game. East now, 50, 60, 70 mph, I’m gaining on them both. And the three of us take the turn by Joey’s like soldiers in some frenzied parade.

Then the sirens explode, and in my side-view mirror I see a phalanx of flashing lights behind me. There’s no way I want this army of good guys to think I’m the bad guy, so I pull to the shoulder and let the onslaught pass. But I wasn’t outta this chase; I was just opting for a more cautious and unequivocal role. And within moments I’d punched my ride back up to 50 and rode the rear of this increasingly frantic chase.

I didn’t hear the crash. But I did see the cops converge to a halt. When I pulled up the bad guy was cuffed facedown on the street and surrounded by enough police to take San Juan Hill. And his getaway car lay bent and twisted around a sickly ghetto tree.

“I’m the guy he hit! I’m the guy he hit!” I say, somewhat needlessly, as I jump from my ride. “Motherfucker could’ve killed me.”

A few of the late-coming cops look me over (thank Zeus for quasi-zootsuits and ties); then they scope my ride, and they see how it’s completely crumpled. And one of the uniforms quipped: “If you weren’t driving that fucking tank he might’ve succeeded.”

He was right. Those solid steel wheels probably saved my life. And I was torn between bemoaning the loss of my beloved Buick and thanking the damn thing for coming through when the action got beyond outta hand.

After leaving my name and number I spoke with a few of the Finest, two of whom — Lieutenant Mario Knapp and Sergeant James (Tony) Johns — run what’s called R.I.D. The acronym stands for Robbery Intervention Detail, and I’d come to find out later, from another officer, that these cats were known as “the badasses” of the Department. But after seeing them in action, I already knew that. And the bad guy? He apparently was an ex armed carjacker.

Eventually I made my way to Grand Central. I even got to catch a large part of The Plain White T’s splendid 90-minute set. Mostly though, after a couple quick and obligatory cocktails, I regaled the tale about me and my Regal, over and over, again and again, to whoever would listen. And once I was all talked out I made my way around the venue and got up close to the new Buick Regal GS, and I thought, would this car also save my life? Of course it would. It’s a fucking Buick.

Two for the Road: Beach House & School of Seven Bells Keep it Intimate

Hard to say whether or not Beach House‘s Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are what’s commonly called “a couple.” In fact, after meeting the two last week at The Fillmore Miami Beach, I doubt seriously they could be commonly called anything. Same goes for School of Seven Bells‘ Alejandra Deheza and Benjamin Curtis, who I met at Grand Central on Saturday night. They, too, could be “an item.” But frankly, I don’t much care. To me it’s enough to know that both pairs have some kinda special bond between them, and that together they make some of the most compellingly beautiful music on the planet. Would any of it be possible without that girl/guy give and take? Unlikely. But that doesn’t mean I’ve gotta peak into their respective bedrooms to find out what really goes on.

That said, the big idea behind this column is getting close to folks who are either blowing through or living in Miami, and trying to learn a bit about what makes them tick. You don’t do that without a little prying, or by sticking solely to the facts according to some press release. I mean, even the most perfunctory interview can turn intimate, especially if it’s face-to-face. That’s one of the reasons I insist on in-person interviews in the first place.

Besides, who else would ask Beach House which director and artist they could see themselves soundtracking? For the former, Scally thinks “Antonioni and Kusterica, the guy who did Black Cat White Cat; Antonioni [because] there are a lot of slow parts, and there’s a lot of great intensity, and there’s a lot of great beauty.” Legrand says “any director who uses space really.” And when I press for a Frenchie, she’d choose, “Godard, obviously, the way he’d freeze a still so it’s almost like a photograph and then dissolve into a sequence of three.” But really, “anyone who cleverly uses visual.”

Citing numerous reviews and interviews in which the subject of abstraction comes up, Legrand wants to ensure that I don’t think of Beach House as a bunch of eggheads. “Abstract is important to us in an almost non-intellectual way,” she tells me, “because it’s not super on-purpose abstract; it’s in the most playful way.”

“I feel like people talk about writing music in a way that we can’t relate to,” explains Scally. “‘I had some really intense stuff happening in my life so I sat down on the guitar and hashed it out. That’s not how musical inspiration comes to me, and I don’t think that’s how it comes to Victoria.”

“If it does, it’s residual,” she concurs, “long after the fact.”

“Artist-wise though I could say anyone really” Legrand continues. “I could say Bill Viola and I could say Basquait. That doesn’t necessarily mean how I think it connects to us. But it terms of boldness of color, freedom of shape, of form, of explosiveness, of very little, it could be very minimalistic. Anyone in that vein really. It’s hard to say one in particular.”

“Miro,” says Scally. “Really bold and really simple.” And “Rothko,” adds Legrand. “Depending on where you’re looking from.”

The Baltimore-based duo (who record as a threesome and tours as a quartet) tend to finish each other’s sentences, and it’s a bet that in studio or in the writing room, they finish each other’s thoughts as well. Though their most recent album, Teen Dream, and the rest of their highly-regarded recordings are the primary reason for their increasing success, Beach House seems to be most at home in the back of a van or a bus.

“We’ve basically been on the road for four years straight,” says Scally. “Our growth has been from touring constantly. We haven’t had a week home the entire year.”

“We’re a touring band,” Legrand insists. “We’re not like little fairies that need to be protected. We have to tour all the time.” That’s why after Beach House wraps a tour supporting Vampire Weekend, they’ll be back to bunking across the pond. “This will be our fifth time in Europe,” says Scally, “this year.”

School of Seven Bells are equally road-worthy, which is a large part of the reason why twin sister Claudia recently bowed out of the current tour.

“We make a record and we go on tour,” says Curtis. “We make a record while we’re on tour, then we keep touring. We eat, sleep, and breathe School of Seven Bells, and I can understand if that’s not for some people.”

Alejandra (aka Ally) wasn’t at all surprised by her sister’s decision.

“Yeah, we sensed it coming,” she tells me. “I think Claudia just lost interest in being in a band. The bottom line is touring just isn’t for some people. If you don’t love it, you can’t do it.”

Like Beach House, SVIIB is back and forth across the pond as much as possible, and in a week or so they’ll be “in Europe for the second time since [their LP Disconnect from Desire] came out on July 15.” And while Claudia’s departure did leave a gap, “Her spirit is still with us,” says Curtis.

To my eyes it appears that perhaps the bond between Ally and Benjamin might’ve left Claudia feeling rather like a third wheel. After all, it is Alejandra and Benjamin who write all the music (though “that was [Claudia’s] choice” they say), and it is they who, like Legrand and Scally, complete each other’s sentences and thoughts. Add the gruel of the road and it’d be enough to send anyone packing.

But the School kids didn’t seem to be fretting so there’s no reason I should either. I ask them whether or not they’ve seen the 1973 James Coburn flick Harry in Your Pocket, which is where I first heard of the mythical pickpocketing academy known as the School of the Seven Bells. Oddly, I’m “the first person ever to even mention it.” I ask Ally if anyone’s ever said she sometimes sounds like Karen Carpenter, especially in tracks like “Dial” and “ILU.” And she says, no, but she’s more than a little flattered by the comparison. That leads to a run about Olivia Newtown John (Karen’s best friend), lucid dreaming (frequently mentioned by the band) and bibliomancy (which Ally saw practiced first-hand in the “fanatic, evangelical Christian church” of her youth).

But when I ask for a “fanboy shot” to prove I was actually present at the creation of this conversation, and the two in turn responded by asking me to recommend a good nearby restaurant, I couldn’t help flashing back to Wednesday when Victoria and Alex simultaneously asked the exact same thing. Yeah, I know, everybody gets hungry. But not everybody does so at the same time alongside a partner with whom they are taking on the whole wild world.

Are the duos in fact couples? I don’t know. But since both pairs slipped me their coordinates and asked that I keep in touch, one day I may. Till then I get to revel in the notion that I now know two of the most charming twosomes in pop.

Stoli and BlackBook Kick-off Grand Central in Miami

Miami’s newest live music venue, Grand Central, celebrated its, well, grand opening when BlackBook and Stoli partnered with Poplife to deliver a crazy kick-off party, featuring the sounds of DJs Paco, Sebastian Puga and Mike Deuce.

Away from the glitz of South Beach, it was all about the music, as hundreds of sweaty hipsters danced the night away. They were fueled by Stoli cocktails (some made with the new Stoli White Pomegranik) such as the Stoli White Pom Gimlet, Stoli White Pom Smash, Stoli Gala Fizz and Stoli O Sparkler.

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Grand Central & Rachel Roy Go Green

Grand Central doesn’t exactly connote a cosmopolitan center of sustainability, but in light of Thursday being Earth Day the train station is becoming just that, at least sartorially speaking. “Commuters traveling through Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall will find over eighteen designers,” cosmetics and fragrances that are all eco-friendly, says Racked NYC. The store will solely be open until April 24. Until then goods from the likes of Samantha Pleet among other sustainably-minded designers are all up for grabs.

Rachel Roy is introducing her own eco-friendly endeavor as well. The designer has created “a new program, Rachel Roy: Recycled Reused” which will hits stores this month. The collection is made of eco-tec yarn (70% of whose cotton fibers come from reused fabric scraps), reclaimed buttons and even recycled hang tags (a cardigan from Roy’s line RACHEL Rachel Roy is pictured here). The program may have been launched to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, but it’s a great reminder that it’s never too late for designers to spearhead similar fashion initiatives.