[Above: Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley]
Miami has become quite mad for massive outdoor music festivals. Between the homegrown Ultra (now in its ninth year) which will officially close the 2007 Winter Music Conference, and the imported Global Gathering, which is like a tropical, mini Leeds, the town sees more than its fair share of aural largesse. Seems only fitting since Miami's built upon a boast and a bullet.
Which brings about Bang.
Now in its second year, Bang Music Festival proved to be what Miami is at its core – perhaps America’s most vocally polyglot metropolis. From the frenzy of Tiesto and his ilk to the Last Poetic legacies of Common, the rambunctious rock of Modest Mouse to the family rites of Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley, and the crazed, border-leanings of Kinky through the amazing-their-still-standing gamesmanship of Duran Duran, Bang did what we here do best: It shot off its big mouth.
But it was with the new one world reorderings of Thievery Corporation and Gnarls Barkley where the polyglot really got loud, and where Bang really bucked.
Thievery Corporation, as many now well know, is our nation in a new world nutshell. A globeful of mixed-use grabbings put into play for all to keep and to move to. Corporation kingpins Rob Garza and Eric Hilton long-ago ditched the chill-out in favor of some crushed velvet post-groove. And stagings at such spreads as Lollapalooza, Camp Bisco, Austin City Limits and the Virgin Festival have given them a reach well beyond their fabled 18th Street Lounge. At Bang, the Thieves were exceptionally no exception.
This is how the world turns.
Gnarls Barkley, on the other hand, turns the world on. Tricked-out, pimped-out and slick, like a blaxploitation flick come to 21st century true life, Gnarls came plastered in suits, spangles, sparkles, smoke and – above all – soul. Gnarls brings the kind of Hot Buttered stir Sir Isaac Hayes’ halcyon days only dared to forecast.
It was a collision of sound that continued further, faster, louder and in a whole different direction of more spectacular with the neo-futuristic now of Daft Punk, the French robotic duo that covers all the colors in the spectrum of sound, and then adds some sucker punch for fun. Backed by a barrage of Holzer-like LEDs, draped in a Masonic configuration of hyperlit pyramids and hidden beneath their trademark alien space helmets, these Punks showed you don’t have to show face to get to transcendent; you must simply just be transcendent, preferably with volume.
Indeed, if Bang were a lesson in a bottle, it would be this: It is time we speak up. Loudly.