Searching for Normalcy

"And finally, above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed: I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful. I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that’s why I made works of art…" – Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Why, Yes, Clevelander. I believe i will party with you. May 1, 2009

Filed under: Music — Lulu @ 3:40 pm

As part of their Grand Reopening this week, the Clevelander hotel, located on Ocean Drive in South Beach, is hosting “4 Days of Non-Stop Entertaiment.”

Last night featured a free concert with The Academy Is and Gym Class Heroes.

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Christian, Tere and I decided to attend, even though we weren’t all that familiar with either band (I literally knew one song from each). But we were all “hey, free concert! ON the beach, yo!” (Okay, maybe not so much like that, but we were looking forward to it. ‘Cause, you know, FREE is always good.)

After waiting in line to get our IDs checked (I wanted to hug the bouncer just for asking me for ID; funny how your attitude about that changes the older you get), we then proceeded to wait in another 20-minute line – velvet rope and all – to get into the actual bar/stage area. We (and by “we" I mean Tere and me) were a little annoyed at this. But then we asked about it and were told that it had to do with capacity control, rather than “in crowd” control. So then we chilled and just waited our turn. The Academy Is started their set while we were in line, so we missed about 3 or 4 songs from them, before we finally got in.

We were meeting up with other friends and found them at the bar once we got past the velvet rope. Overall I think the Clevelander did a really nice job with their remodel. There’s an enclosed bar area towards the back with a multitude of large-screen, plasma TVs, where they were showing the NBA playoffs. The bar area itself seems larger than before and has a ton of seating all around. And there are some new water features surrounding the entire perimeter of the bar which are a really nice touch. Unfortunately, it was really crowded, so that’s about all I got to see.

We hung out at the bar most of the time that The Academy Is played their set, just talking and having a couple of drinks. Well, Christian had a couple of drinks. Tere and I just talked. We did manage to get right next to the stage for a while, and I tried to get some pictures, but they came out terrible. So then we just went back to the bar.

After the TAI set ended, it took a really long time to get the stage re-set for Gym Class Heroes. During this time we pretty much stayed at the bar, as that is where our group was hanging out. One thing that I liked about the set up was that, even though the bouncers had stated that they were at capacity, there was room to move around. It wasn’t super-packed or shoulder-to-shoulder, so that was nice. We actually had breathing room! And there was a nice, cool breeze coming from the ocean so it was pretty pleasant, not hot or muggy at all.

Tere had to leave before Gym Class Heroes started their set (they were supposed to go on at 11PM but were running late), but Christian and I stayed behind with the rest of our group. GCH finally hit the stage about 20-30 minutes later, and Christian and I were able to get a spot right next to the stage. I managed to get a few semi-decent pictures.

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Lead singer Travis McCoy is such an amazing performer! This guy was born to entertain. Super charismatic, very funny, and incredibly engaging.

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They played a really long set, at least an hour – which surprised us, as we were expecting maybe 10 songs at the most – plus an encore. During their encore, the entire band was onstage performing, except Travis McCoy. About two minutes into the song I felt someone leaning on me, just over my left shoulder, looking at my camera (I was videotaping the song). I thought it was one of our friends that had been next to me the entire time. I looked over my shoulder and all I saw was a tall, skinny guy wearing a hoodie sweatshirt. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was Travis McCoy! I freaked out and almost dropped my camera! I tried to catch the moment, but he ran onstage before I could compose myself and figure out what was going on. That was really fun, though! (I think Christian caught it on his camera. Maybe.)

Even though we weren’t really fans of GCH prior to the show, just because we weren’t all that familiar with their music, they completely won us over last night! They gave an awesome performance, and their eclectic reggae-tinged rap-rock had the crowd dancing and singing along the entire time. Gym Class Heroes are a really fun band to see live, really energetic and you can tell they’re having the time of their lives when they are performing. These guys love what they do and it shows! I also like that they are big on peace and harmony and acceptance, and really put that message forth during the entire set. Christian and I both agreed that this had been one of the most fun concerts either of us had ever attended.

After the encore, we decided to head out as it was already pretty late, and I had to get up at 7am today to start working. We said goodbye to our friends, but before leaving the Clevelander, we stopped at the “shopping table.” Because the show was free, we wanted to support the band somehow, so we purchased a couple of t-shirts. While we were there, Marc de Jesus (one of the guys from the band) came over to get some air, and we asked if we could take a picture with him. He was so friendly and accommodating about it. And check out that sweet afro!

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Seriously, it was a pretty great evening/event. I think the Clevelander did a great job sponsoring this show, making it a really enjoyable experience, and I would definitely be inclined to check out future events there.

Here’s a video I recorded of the band’s #1 single, “Cupid’s Chokehold.” The sound is absolutely terrible, but it’s still kind of fun to watch.

Alright, that’s it. Peace out, yo!

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