Monday October 9, 2006

Carnival Center opening: Target GlobalBeat

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Target GlobalBeat was the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts’ giant opening party for Miami: a free, 10-hour, 50-performer festival, where the doors were basically thrown open and anyone who wanted to could roam the entire complex unrestricted. And it was expertly organized, too: I suspect that anyone who caught even one of the shows would have been impressed: especially the indoor performances were all first class, many were exotic, and they worked together to create a seamless kaleidoscope of music from around the world by featuring mostly local performers and with international talent. A class act. There were some minor problems with the sound, which I’ll mention as I go along, but for the most part they take nothing away from the excellent performers or the Center; after all, each venue (and there were seven) had at least six different performers, who went on in quick succession and with little to no sound check. I’ll talk about the performers today, and get into looking at the buildings themselves tomorrow.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

The Florida Memorial Steelband opened things in the Knight Concert Hall. Their MC explained how a steel band works—there are 10 players on the steel drums, plus two “percussionists.” They played a few original compositions, then brought out the horns and launched into some Sonny Rollins. It was all quite beautiful, even for the faint-of-steeldrum. Featured audio issue: a hissing (almost buzzing) sound from the speakers between songs, probably from a piece of the band’s equipment, because it was gone later.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Bharti Chokshi, of the Association of Performing Arts of India, rocks the sitar, with a tabla player, in the Studio Theater. The sitar/tabla combination is the quintessential configuration for Indian classical music. Both instruments are so complex that if you close your eyes, it’s difficult to imagine that only two people are making it. Both the performers were masterful, but the 15-minute set, all with people crowding in and taking flash pictures, was hardly ideal for enjoyment of this type of music. Featured audio issue: a strange reverb on the tabla that made the dāyāñ (the smaller of the two drums) dominate the mix a bit. (And yes, my photo is out of focus; I was there to enjoy myself, not fuss with photography.)

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Next up were two Indian dancers. They were completely spellbinding, as was the choreography. Their movements were sometimes in unison, sometimes sequential, and sometimes complimentary, and were punctuated by pauses, during which the dancers stood motionless except for subtle movements of their heads. They were, in a word, tight. I cannot possibly explain how great the Association of Performing Arts of India is, or the completely otherworldly beauty of Indian culture. Update: The dancers are Madhavi and Meenakshi Menon, and they have a website.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Outside, the giant dragon puppet, brought by the Miami Overseas Chinese Association, rages to the accompaniment of giant drums.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Fusho Daiko, a Taiko ensemble, at the Ziff Ballet Opera House. They cranked it up to 10 right at the start, and then turned it up to 11 later, blasting the place out with just enough rhythmic variation (and almost no harmonic content, except for the occasional conch blow) to be mesmerizing. In a word: fierce. They generally rearranged the drums between every piece, varying the organizational structure of the group. This was one of the highlights of the day. (An inquisitive reader will want to know: “do the men in the ensemble shave their armpits?” Answer: some of them.) Featured audio problem: none—they were unamplified!

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

One of several parades/street parties in the plaza.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Peru Expression. The band played one song (featured audio problem: the singer and guitar were almost inaudible for most of the song), and then the singer launched into a long story, in Spanish, before bringing out the dancers. I was out of there.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Black Violin, who bring the hip-hop approach to, um, violins. Their act consists of playing violin along with existing songs, and setting classical pieces to beats. The latter approach works a little better, but overall I can imagine this group being more effective in concert, going back and forth with 50 Cent (as they recently did). Still cool, though.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

A reduced version of the normally 30-member Klezmer Company Orchestra played around, setting old Klezmer songs to South American rhythms, which worked surprisingly well. Not as joyous and unrestrained as I’d have expected, but they played well, and their musical director’s between-song history and anecdotes were interesting. Featured audio problem: couldn’t hear the bass(!), except when she played one particular note, high up on the neck.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

I was in the nosebleed section for the Delou Africa Dance Ensemble, which turned out to be a bad choice, because I couldn’t see the dancing very well, other then to get a sense of joyous abandon. The music was a different story, though. Employing a similar ensemble and soloist strategy as the Taiko group, but to completely different ends, it was precise, aggressive, and had the feeling of one-upsmanship, but with a constant give-and take. The drummers would lay low, and the African Xylophone would play some polyphony, and then they’d come to the front of stage and trade solos, walking while playing. Great. Featured audio problem: feedback.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Conjuncto Progreso. Featured audio problem: not sure, they were arguing with the sound guy and hadn’t started yet. I couldn’t stick around, because I was on my way to see . . .

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

The Cooper Temple Church of God in Christ Mass Choir, which was a powerhouse. This is the contemporary gospel choir in full force, and everyone was suitably impressed. Maybe there was a little too much emphasis on the drums, and not enough on the singers, but it worked perfectly for me. Wow.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

One of the many performances in the lobby of the Concert Hall. I believe this was Los Tangueros.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Back over to the Studio Theater, where local break-dance crew D-Projects was doing their thing. I only caught a little, but again, it looked like one of the highlights. Breaking done right is still impressive. And it’s still being done right, twenty-five years later. Crazy.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

Mayday [Flash!] was in the house, playing to what looked mostly like fans, and impressing the crap out of everyone. Not bad for a white, 4-piece (keyboards, bass, DJ, MC) outfit. Featured audio problem: a horrible crackling distorted sound every time the DJ tried to scratch. This was in the Peacock Studio, which is really a dance rehearsal space. It was set up without seating, and black fabric covering the walls, sort of club-like.

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

DJ Craze, three-time World DMC Champion, closed out the night with some of his jaw-dropping turntable dexterity. Actually, I take that back: there are other scratch-DJ’s who focus on show-off DJ techniques, and while Craze has his share of show, what puts him over is his musicality. Dude is dope. Don’t take my word for it, check him out here. Dang!

Carnival Center Target Globebeat

There you have it: a class act all around. I can’t imagine anyone going to this event and not feeling right about the Performing Arts Center. Maybe they’ll throw a big party like this once a year? There’s hoping. My biggest quibble with the day was the annoying plastic rattlers that someone was handing out to the kids; whoever had that idea deserves eternity in a purgatory where a hundred kids shake those things at random while they’re trying to pay attention to something. Also, I think there was a fear of having the place overrun with an unmanageable amount of people, hence the wristband thing, which allowed the organizers to reserve the right to exercise some sort of control. No worries, though: while the event was well attended, there was no shortage of wristbands, and I didn’t hear anyone complain about not being able to see what they wanted to see. And everyone was walking around with smiles on their faces; I think it was a genuine pride and excitement, that after all the problems, this thing is finished, and it’s being done right. Tomorrow: the building!

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  1. paula    Mon Oct 9, 11:12 AM #  

    Great round-up, Alesh. I was there all day and was very impressed with the event. (I even think I caught a glimpse of you—twice—but thought it’d be rather weird to go up to you and ask if that was really you). I was a little surprised that there weren’t more people, especially in the evening. The local bands outside on the terrace—Spam All Stars and Locos por Juana among others—were great and the weather was perfect to enjoy outdoor music. I also caught Conjunto Progreso, some of the Afro-Cuban dance ensembles and others. It’d be great for Miami if they had more free or outdoor concerts there or a yearly Global Beat as you suggest.

    Looking forward to the building review. I’m not sure about acoustics, lighting or any of that but the buildings reminded me much of UM—not sure that that’s a good thing.



  2. Tere    Mon Oct 9, 11:19 AM #  

    Great post, but you missed the most important part: How’s the new Target?

    j/k. but not really.



  3. Miami Transit Man    Mon Oct 9, 12:26 PM #  

    Excellent coverage Alesh. I’m glad you were able to make it there…I can’t wait to see what you think about the actual structures themselves…



  4. Manola Blablablanik    Mon Oct 9, 12:41 PM #  

    Awesome roundup, A! I appreciate it as I wasn’t able to go and look forward to tomorrow’s review. I gather from the press release that all the performers were local? That is amazing and good community outreach on the part of the center to feature local talent.

    My hairdresser told me on Friday: “When you drive by there it’s so impressive. You have a square, the overpass, it feels like you’re in a real city.”

    Hmm … that’s nice to hear from a local.

    I also hope that they have more events like this. Especially in the cooler months. In so doing the PAC foundation can fulfill part of its community outreach and also serve the community.

    Anyway, yhe place looks gorgeous!



  5. Mr. Community Award    Mon Oct 9, 01:25 PM #  

    I’m handing out a giant award to the one citizen doing more than their share to contribute culturally and analyze what makes our community so – amidst all of the impossibilities, delays and motherfucking frustrations that Miami brings – to Mr. Alesh of Critical Miami. Great coverage. Very thorough and even a little objective. And most importantly for me, amazingly punctual. And probably on no budget. True community service journalism, the future. All the best.



  6. Onajide    Mon Oct 9, 04:37 PM #  

    Thanks Alesh… good reporting and good pics. :-)



  7. harumi    Mon Oct 9, 07:36 PM #  

    I completly missed it! It must been so much fun!!!



  8. "Missing It"    Mon Oct 9, 08:02 PM #  

    Okay. All day I’ve heard people say “oh, i missed it.” I can’t believe even some of Miami’s bloggers on here “missed it.” What does it take to get you to rally behind your city? 480 million dollars. Not to be negative, but I expected a mega turn-out for this and it wasn’t so. Given, it was a long event, but I expected to see many more Miamians there. Kinda makes you wonder if we deserved the free party.



  9. Tere    Mon Oct 9, 09:11 PM #  

    It takes my cousin’s bridal shower in Palm Beach, and the fact that the Palm Beach contingent of my family hadn’t seen my son since he was 6 weeks old.

    I know, incredulous, that someone would miss a party over family obligations.



  10. Rick    Mon Oct 9, 09:45 PM #  

    I have to say that I was kind of put off by the info that people who had not obtained wristbands before hand would not be permitted in to the events. One thing that I didn’t want to do is drive down from Broward and find a parking place only to be turned around at the door.

    The other thing that “missing it” needs to realize is that while most of us applaud the CCPA and are amazed at what the downtown area is turning into, we all don’t share the same passion and affinity for the arts that he/she apparently has. We’re all different and what may be a “must do event” for some is something that falls lower on the list of priorities for others.

    .



  11. alesh    Mon Oct 9, 10:07 PM #  

    Thanks everybody!

    In all honesty, the Target banners didn’t really bug me. The only commercial aspect of the whole thing that sort of bugged me was was the Lexus ES 350 on display on the plaza. Somehow, what comes across as pretty cool at Aventura Mall just seemed tacky and cheap at the Center, probably in part because the car was taking up space where people could have been standing and enjoying the music.

    I missed the Spam Allstars—d’oh!

    Rick ~ it’s cool. Hey, you’re not even a Miami-Dade resident; who’s to say they’d have let you in?? BTW, did you take a day off from work to go to the Auto Show?



  12. Rick    Mon Oct 9, 11:03 PM #  

    Alesh: the answer to that question will be revealed to you tomorrow at SotP. And not that it matters, but it was a holiday for me.

    .



  13. dam    Tue Oct 10, 12:51 AM #  

    I would have gone but honestly I didn’t know this was going to be link the pictures. maybe its my fault for not knowing but maybe its there fault for not promoting it right. I guess when I actually go I will have to pay…



  14. paula    Tue Oct 10, 08:42 AM #  

    A lot of people probably missed it because they just didn’t know about it. There also seemed to be confusion about the wristbands vs. vouchers (which you got ahead of time). I worked the event for a few hours and they had 5,000 wristbands available for each 3-hour time slot; I can say there was no shortage of them at any given point. Another thing they didn’t make so clear is that to enjoy the outdoor concerts you didn’t need one. Let’s hope next year—if they have one—they’ll promote it a little better.



  15. michael feldman    Tue Oct 10, 04:49 PM #  

    i am the sound mixer for the knight concert hall, and mixed the bands reviewed….ordinarily, i do not respond to reviews of my productions, but i feel that one comment needs to be explained…as for the gospel concert , the drums were too loud, that i agree, but it should be noted that THE ONLY MICS THAT WERE BEING USED FOR THAT SET WERE THE 6 LEAD VOCAL MICS. the sound you heard was the sound of the band on stage through their own on stage monitors!!!! i added no reinforcement to any other instruments. my choice was that or make the whole show much, much LOUDER, which seemed uncalled for.

    it should also be noted that the show was “festival-style” i.e. there was were no sound checks for any bands in any of the venues….we were wingin it, baby!!!!!

    also, i welcome any comments and critques (good or bad) of my work at any time…



  16. mkh    Tue Oct 10, 06:04 PM #  

    The wristband thing initially put me off, too. I was worried that I would hunt around for parking ($15?!) and then not be able to get in. To further complicate matters, there wasn’t clear signage in evidence anywhere, making me spend half an hour trying to find the place to pick up the wristbands.

    But I’m glad I made the effort. It was a good event.

    (And Alesh, damn, I was maybe three rows behind you at the Asian drumming performance, based on the angle of your photo!)



  17. 'Ista    Tue Oct 10, 08:27 PM #  

    Fuhs ting fuhs, wahn send a biggup to the fam on de Florida Memorial Pan/ Steelband, yuh know- Mark Douglas and while I’m at it, his sister Lauraine T&T national football (also just graduated with Honors w a degree in Math from Georgia)! Mark is doing it up big with some other projects (major Soca and Hip Hop artists in London, T&T and the U.S.) Mark if yuh gonna twist yuh hair up at my crib man yuh hafi mek sure you clean up properly, yeah?

    Now I see that a billion dollars in taxes was worth it! Thanks for putting that up Al!



  18. Meenakshi Menon    Wed Oct 11, 06:00 PM #  

    I’m glad you enjoyed our Indian classical dance presentation.



  19. alesh    Thu Oct 12, 08:32 AM #  

    Hi Michael!

    I had no idea about the amplification . . . that’s pretty amazing though. Yes, you did a great job overall. Especially considering that the sound board was at the side of the stage; that seems like a pretty bad spot to try to judge what the audience is hearing, no?

    One of the things I found myself wishing was that more of the stuff in the Concert Hall was just left unamplified, of at least just amplify the ‘softer’ instruments. I suppose it’s more delicate doing that, and would require a real soundcheck, but it’d be nice to see.

    mkh~ Next time, park in the garage behind the cultural center ($5 on weekends) and take the metromover.

    Meenakshi~ Hopefully we’ll get to see a fuller performance soon; it was wonderful. btw, your googlepage link doesn’t seem to be working? Is there somewhere we can find out more? The APAI site doesn’t have a schedule up yet…



  20. m feldman    Thu Oct 12, 09:43 AM #  

    hi alesh
    fyi, the gentleman at the sound board on stage was the monitor enginer, i was at the sound board at the the “front-of-house” position, out by the house right lobby door. and yes, a soundcheck would be a good thing!!

    cheers
    mf



  21. Meenakshi Menon    Thu Oct 12, 10:32 AM #  

    Alesh,

    Here’s the link to our page. I may have typed it incorrectly earlier!

    http://menon.sisters.googlepages.com/

    I forwarded your review to my guru, Geeta Chandran (she’s based in New Delhi, India), and here’s what she said:
    “This is an awesome review. But do write to them saying that dancers are not nameless. You need to be acknowledged as individuals and artists.”

    Oh well…maybe next time :) We have a few performances and lecture-demonstrations lined up in the coming weeks, but they are private functions. On November 4, 2006 (Sunday) the Shiva-Vishnu Temple of South Florida (http://www.shivavishnu.org/) located in Southwest Ranches is celebrating their annual day, and Madhavi and I will be performing there at 2.30 PM.



  22. alesh    Thu Oct 12, 11:15 AM #  

    Meenakshi~

    I’ve updated the post, thanks for the info.

    The Shiva-Vishnu Temple performance sounds amazing; the temple has an etiquette section. I wonder how they’d feel about non-regulars attending the performance?



  23. Meenakshi Menon    Thu Oct 12, 02:37 PM #  

    Alesh,
    Visiting the Shiva-Vishnu Temple is not a problem; everyone is welcome!



  24. Fernando Subirats    Thu Oct 12, 06:17 PM #  

    Excellent photos and overall coverage of this pivotal day in Miami’s cultural history. I’m Fernando Subirats, the tabla player who performed with the Association of Performing Arts of India in the studio theater. Your detailed comments about the “dayan” tabla made me want to find out more about the writer. Seeing your name makes it clear. Thank you for including us in your site and next time you hear us, introduce yourself!

    Cheers,
    Fernando



  25. Irina - The Russian Queen of Balloons    Tue Oct 17, 12:52 PM #  

    I was at the opening making balloon art. I posted photos on my blog. mylifeandart.typepad.com