Show Review: Miami Horror at DNA Lounge

Originally published on June 10, 2011

Miami Horror
(w/DJ Matthew Grand, Jeff Jerusalem)
June 9th at DNA Lounge, San Francisco

Miami Horror made a stop in San Francisco Thursday night and packed the DNA Lounge full of an eclectic crowd ready to blow off some steam via the dance floor. Put on by RedEye Presents, the night started with some funky house mixes from the Bay Area’s own DJ Matthew Grand. People gravitated from the bar to the main floor and started busting out some serious interpretive dancing that took staple moves like ‘the shopping cart’ to the next level. One guy pantomimed setting a dynamite charge by laying wire across the whole room, pushing down the bar to detonate it, and then running back along the invisible wire to where he and two girls would jump up and make explosion noises. It was pretty amazing; he did this at least five times, and it was great to watch. Grand was serving up some great mixes and mash-ups from artists including Australians Pnau and the Presets, and had the entire dance floor filled and hyped-up by the time the stage artists were set to play.

The one man keyboard show of Jeffrey Jerusalem opened the night. This guy had enough enthusiasm for the whole crowd, but his energy did not seem to carry over past the stage. He launched into a set of jittery caffeine-induced keyboard compositions that combined pre-recorded synthesizer parts with overlaid live piano parts, while he intermittently went berserk on a pair of drums. The tempo would speed up and slow down, and he sang dramatically over the divergent sounds. It was a cool idea to combine so many musical elements, and he was fully absorbed in the performance, but it was hard to follow and dance along to his ever-changing music. Perhaps the songs are better experienced as recordings, or maybe he would fit better on a different bill, but either way, the audience that had been dancing with dynamite slowed down noticeably. His last song was more upbeat, and many people clapped along, so maybe he should try to perform additional songs similar to that one to connect with the audience and reserve the more experimental tracks for records.

Miami Horror geared up to headline the night, and the energy level was raised to the ceiling once again. The band hails from the electronic music hub of Melbourne, and fans were excited to have the band return to the Bay Area so quickly after a sold out show at Mezzanine this past March. The crowd must have been listening to Miami Horror’s debut full-length album Illumination nonstop since the last concert, and it was amazing to see everyone jump up together and sing out lyrics to every multi-layered synthy, disco-influenced song. The band delivered an engaging hour-long set that had the audience dancing the whole way through.

Miami Horror tracks are primarily crafted by producer Benjamin Plant, but he started working with other musicians while recording tracks for Illuminations, and the live band is made up of these collaborators. While Plant is the main man behind Miami Horror, it was vocalist and guitar player Josh Moriarty that soaked up most of the attention at this show. He shredded out muted and distorted guitar solos, at times playing them behind his head. At one point, he jumped many feet down off a raised part of the stage, and continued his effortless guitar playing. Another show highlight was when band members would take turns playing out rhythms on the different toned menagerie of cowbells that were at the front of the stage. It was neat to have an additional dynamic percussion element over the existing steady drums and electric beats, and who doesn’t get excited over excessive amounts of cowbell? It was great to see Miami Horror perform live to kick off the summer, as their tracks are warm and playful and elevate you to a happy mood. If you missed the show, you still have a chance to pick up their album, as the songs can lend themselves perfectly to soundtracks of summer road trips or backyard kickbacks.


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