After a successful debut, Miami music fans are beginning their Thanksgiving week with a lot of appreciation towards House of Creatives music festival that took place in North Miami Beach. Running from last Friday to Saturday, these were two days of phenomenal sounds, local vendors, and delicious food. Let’s now take a look back at some of the festival’s highlights.
The cool weather and the mainstage at the beach gave the festival a very laidback and mellow vibe while vendors and concert goers arrived at the festival grounds. It seemed as if setup for the festival was running a little short, yet this was not a huge problem as a majority of ticket buyers would not arrive until much later. Thus, there was a great deal of space for those who were part of the setup crew and for the few music fans who decided to arrive early.
Around 5:00pm, the Hongs took to the Beach stage. While the crowd was thin, the South Florida band brought a mellow vibe as pockets of people danced their way around the Beach stage. A smooth mix of electronic and guitar, the local band provided the perfect melody for guests as they checked out the vendors or as they tried to decide whether to eat from Coyo Taco, Wynwood Parlor, La Latina or Sazon.
Slowly but surely, more and more people trickled into the festival grounds. A sizeable audience had gathered at the Bandshell stage. Here, festival-goers enjoyed bands more local talent from indie rock bands like The Moon Caravan and the Grey 8s.
After the sun had set, a bigger crowd gathered to watch the Drums. While the age demographic of the London-based band was clearly around the late teens and twenties, there were still families and slightly older folks around the edges of the crowd that were present to enjoy the melancholic melodies by the Drums. Fans sang along to songs like “Best Friend” and “Money” as they closed their eyes and raised their hands. While the band experienced some technical difficulties, such as a problem with lead singer’s Jonathan Pierce’s microphone and the broken pedal of drummer Connor Hannwick, the band was able to surpass these challenges and give the crowd a good time as they played their surfing tunes at the Beach stage. In fact, as Hannwick was getting a pedal replacement, Pierce pointed out the irony of the Drums having no drummer- which was followed by a chuckle in the crowd. As their set approached its end, the audience began to begging them to play down by the water. Instead, the Drums proceeded to play one of their other popular songs “Let’s Go Surfing”, which was still very much welcomed by the audience as they sang their hearts out and kept on dancing.
Once their set ended, the Drums bid Miami farewell and thanked them. After a short break, French electronic funk DJ Breakbot took over the Beach alongside a guitar player and singers Yasmin and Irfane. This set definitely brought the groove on and showed festival attendees what a good party was as they played their songs like “Baby, I’m Yours” and “My Toy”. Their set was reminiscent of 70’s funk due to the colorful play with yellow and pink lights as well as the fashion statement made by each of the artists that were on stage. The crowd loved the retro mood as people pulled off some old-school moves and pranced on the sand.
The night took a different turn, however, when California rock band Cold War Kids took over the Beach. The crowd was made up of both young and old, all who gathered to listen to the troubled lyrics of this band. One of the biggest acts of the night, the Cold War Kids had the perfect blend of old and new songs, all which were received with open arms by the audience. After introducing some of their music from their new album such as “Hot Coals”, super-fans sang along to every lyric while others just swayed or rocked out by jumping and head banging. However, everyone knew the beat and words to “Hang Me Up to Dry”, “Miracle Mile” and “First”. People were raising their arms, singing, jumping and shouting the words as the sometimes melodious, sometimes dissonant, the piano played and Nathan Willet’s vocals accompanied the instrumentals. After many cheers and smiles, the Cold War Kids were the perfect way to wrap up the first day of the first ever House of Creatives.
There was definitely more buzzing around on day two of the festival. With a longer lineup of artists and two of the headliners back to back, House of Creatives attracted many eager fans of all ages.
New York-based Puerto Rican band Buscabulla were one of the first acts to take the Bandshell stage as the sun blared down. Bringing Spanglish experimental pop sounds to the House of Creatives festival, Buscabulla was a favorite of many Latin festival goers. The lead singer, Raquel Berrios, shimmied and sashayed as the bass and guitar player played their music with sweat and passion. Berrios’ voice was a beautiful combination of playful, feminine and ethereal. They sang in both English and Spanish, taking their time to explain certain words to the crowd. They ended their set with their song “Métele”, which after its end was received by a loud applause and the audience chanting for one more song. Guitar player, who wore a gold chain and a jacket with the Puerto Rican flag on the back, seemed to love the attention the band was getting as he encouraged the crowd to keep the chant. With a smile, he finally gave up as they audience realized that it was the Buscabulla’s time to go.
Up next came Shallou followed by Beacon on the Beach stage. Chicago-based self-described “solemn dance” electronic duo amused a small crowd of festival attendees as they stood around listening to the group’s creation and the singer’s impressive vocals. Beacon, a Brooklyn based electronic duo, also gave the small number of people at the Beach an enjoyable time as the long-haired the singer and DJ performed in front of a screen with some gold LED animations.
Back in Bandshell, Miami rap-jazz band impressed music lovers as the ensemble showed off their talent. Accompanied by a guitarist, bass/keyboard player, a drummer and two vocalists/rappers, Artofficial was the most quintessential Miami eclectic group to stage at House of Creatives. After their cool beats, the crowd clapped and cheered, clearly impressed by fusion of culture and sounds they brought to the festival.
Meanwhile, electronic music producer and drummer Zach, who goes by Shigeto, set up his production and drums set at the Beach. While he did attract a bigger crowd than the two earlier acts, there was still plenty of room to sit and lay down on the sand. This was, in fact, the perfect setup since Shigeto’s furious drumming, smooth jazz and R&B influenced sounds that came alongside visually enthralling LED animations kept the audience mesmerized as they stared up at the screen or at the drummer himself. Shigeto’s performance was enjoyable for those who wanted to sit and be enthralled or for those who wanted to dance to the strange yet pleasing beats.
Around 7:15pm in the Bandshell stage was New York rock band Small Black. Clad in black and backed by blue stage lights, Small Black delivered a cool vibe and a chill performance to rock aficionados. As they wrapped up their set, a few stragglers joined left to join the large crowd waiting for Crystal Castles at the Beach.
Of course, these few wanderers had to either stay at the edges or push through the crowd since Crystal Castles had gathered a tightly packed crowd of youngsters. Although the are from being a punk band, the electronic noise pop trio led by singer Edith Frances went hardcore and gave one of the most energetic performances of the festival. The Beach stage seemed to transform into an underground trance nightclub as bright strobe lights fell illuminated the night and Ethan Kath and drummer Christopher Chartrand made noises with drums and a DJ set. Nevertheless, all eyes and cameras were set on Edith Frances’s small build as she jumped and shook her pink hair. In fact, due to her performance, Crystal Castles was one of the most interactive bands of the night. She would approach the audience to sing or to throw flower petals/stems and even water at one point.
Although Crystal Castles’ songs melted into each other as the lights changed color and pattern, the sounds from their new album Amnesty (I) and popular songs like “Crimewave” were easy to recognize. While there was definitely shudders of excitement rippling throughout the large crowd, the performance was tinged by a dark rage as Frances drenched herself in water, angrily tore at roses, pulled cables and in a twisted yet fascinating turn sat down and marked her face with black lipstick. It was absolutely awe-striking.
As if the sensory overload from the music and Frances flailing and twisting about wasn’t enough, the audience was surprised when creatures appeared amidst the cloud. These, of course, were performers in shiny silver and blue monster-like costumes that were led by a team of security as they made their journey through the tightly-packed crowd. One of the performers was on stilts as well, causing much awe and chatter amongst crowd members. It was unclear, however, if these performers were sent by Crystal Castles or by the Flaming Lips since the theme seemed to match that the style of the 90’s band. Once Crystal Castles finished off, the crowd was left sweaty and mesmerized by the gritty performance they just saw.
After a short break, it was finally time for the final and biggest act of the night- the Flaming Lips. The performance by lead Wayne Coyne and his fellow members was surely one of the most memorable of the whole festival- one that left fans wanting more.
Just like Crystal Castles, the much-adored alt rock band was very interactive and extremely appreciative towards the crowd. Fans of all ages, including families, smiled and cheered as the Oklahoma band opened with “Race for the Prize”, which to the crowd’s (and Wayne’s) delight, was accompanied by spurts of cool vapor and a confetti explosion.
Coyne’s vocal delivery was fantastic, as was the energy he exuded throughout the set. As important as the other band members’ instrumental talent was, everyone was clearly focused on the dizzying array of tentacle lights and Coyne’s movements. Overall, Coyne had a magical and childlike quality. He addressed the audience, hugged the inflated characters that were brought on stage, gave a huge “F*CK YEAH MIAMI” balloon to the audience and had a few costume changes- one which included a jacket made of string LED lights as the band played “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1”.
After a few more songs, the Flaming Lips paid tribute to the late David Bowie by playing “Space Oddity”. Several fans raised their hands and sang the words full of emotion when they recognized the classic alternative melody. The best part, however, was the fact that Coyne decided to sing the song while he was in a huge clear plastic ball. After singing the words, he proceeded to roll over the audience, which helped him get to the center where he stayed for a good minute as the instrumentals played. After rolling back onstage, Coyne announced that it was the last time they would be paying tribute to Bowie by singing “Space Oddity”. Miami was very lucky to be the last city to see the Flaming Lips perform that song.
Following this came yet another emotional song, “Waitin’ for Superman”. Instead of the crazy lights and booming music, the Flaming Lips played the beautifully forlorn song with a more acoustic twist. The tempo and mood picked up as the band moved to play “The W.A.N.D”, as bright lights cascaded on the beach and two inflated eyes danced onto the stage. Things got even more positive after “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton”, where the word “LOVE” flashed brightly on the gigantic LED screen and the echo of the same word transitioned to their last song of the night “Do You Realize”. Once they finished, the band expressed their gratitude and left into the cool night. Definitely a feel-good performance, the Flaming Lips perfectly wrapped up House of Creatives festival debut. Miami can’t wait to see what is in store for next year!