Monday, December 5, 2011

Penguin Prison 2011.12.05 Ricochet Bar & Lounge Miami, FL

Penguin Prison | Ricochet Miami
Much like it should, the Art Basel madness continued on all weekend. Friends and colleagues shared tales of their blissfully chaotic weekend in the Magic City over free Perrier and Big Macs. Midtown's impressive Ricochet Bar & Lounge was still going strong with the help of their aforementioned sponsors. No one told them it was a Sunday night after the biggest week long event in the city - that was a good thing. Patrons were noticeably on their last leg after exploring art all day and boogieing in the finest clubs in the South East all night. Bar conversation danced around sensory overload, and its welcomed effects were a general consensus between smiles and telling yawns. Only the hopelessly addicted could push through the fifth day of non-stop art and we used conversation and commentary on the house music as a means to keep our eyes open. The vibe was chill and the room felt like a comfortable corner bar. The contrast within the same space just days ago showed that this venue could transform with ease, and will really be a choice spot as they continue to bring great artists to their door step.

A rumored 10 PM start time faded into an anxious crowd when the New York City indie dance poppers took the petite stage an hour and a half later. With a sound that touches upon the youthful approach of MGMT, and the funk undertones of Chromeo, Penguin Prison connects the dots on polished dance rock that can translate incredibly well in a live setting. Even overcoming sound issues to the point of their front man scolding the engineers, "can we turn the monitors on, do you know what monitors are?," the band played through a majority of their hit-worthy catalog. Feeling more like a lounge and less like a packed club, the questioning audience on the dance floor slowly warmed up as the energy from the stage took on a contagious form.

A particularly elevated track came from the poignant "Don't Fuck With My Money," now couples and too cool hipsters on the couches jumped up to shuffle to the comical dance anthem. Keeping with the sarcastic money theme, "Multi-Millionaire" brought out the super-synth laden side of Penguin Prison. The effort was well received and that 70s Miami disco motif was in full effect. We were dancing and had lots of space to move. "Something I'm Not" switched gears and went into a heavy and dark gated synth section that washed a vocal harmonization over the instrumental. If the volume had been louder the track would have translated more appropriately. That would be true for almost all of their songs. The large stage festival scene, with massive high energy crowds, will be where there sound can really succeed. The intimate experienced was great on a personal level, but this genre really shines in numbers.

The band seemed a bit uninspired towards the end of the set. They were pulling out all their discography tricks but the crowd still seemed overtly lackluster beyond the few energetic front row dancers. I am not sure it was an intentional demeanor, as most seemed to be soaking up the tunes, but I would be lying if I didn't express the drawbacks of being at what seemed liked a listen session. As a result,  after announcing their last song the guys attempted to leave the stage but returned for one more to round out the 50 minute set. Look out for these guys on the Lollapalloza and Coachella type circuits.          

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