Sun, sand, waves, and tunes is always a recipe for good times and House of Creatives Music Festival was that and more. Miami in November is absolute perfection temperature wise and the size of the crowd was a nice blend of wild and intimate. It is a festival that left not only me but others in attendance with a feeling that there is something special on the horizons.
The HOCFest started late enough in the day that it allowed attendees visiting from out of state to do a bit of exploring and see what the city of Miami has to offer – which is a nice, chill, change of pace. After some well deserved relaxation by the beach, I kicked off my Friday night off by going in blind in the hopes of finding something new. XAXO, a Miami based band led by two brothers that performed straight synth-pop goodness and catered exactly to my tastes and were my fun festival find of the weekend. As their set came to a close you could feel and hear the excitement for The Drums. Living in Brooklyn myself, I was excited to see a hometown band in a different city. Jonny and co sounded like they were home as their perfect surfer rock set ascended into the beach air. They were sure to let us know that their fourth album is in-fact finished and on its way which intro’d into a no-name-given new song that just felt right.
French producer, Breakbot, hit the stage next and was a knock-you-on-your-ass amazing dance party. Breakbot has brought on tour a great live band and solid features, Irfane & Yasmin, to drive the energy home. His set left me happy enough to end my night on that high note but it was imperative to push through for Cold War Kids. CWK is one of those rock band that has remained a staple in the festival circuit but I’ve somehow always missed. It was nice getting to finally see them shine and effortlessly command a stage. They played new songs “Hot Coals”, “Can We Hang On”& “Love is Mystical” that sounded great and mixed in well with the rest of their set.
Day one of HOCFest was over and it was dreamlike watching the palm trees dance in the wind, falling asleep in the coolest 1950’s styled beach resort, The Deauville. The same beach resort that hosted The Beatles’ infamous 1964 The Ed Sullivan Show performance – safe to say I had a smile on my face.
There was still much to look forward to with day two shining upon us. Before heading in I briefly met with Kevin Garrett to get some portraits. Kevin was this gentle human, open to letting my mind run free for 10 minutes to create. It’s not often I’ve come across an artist that has been so receptive to photographic collaboration as quickly and effortlessly in the way he did. Our conversations caused major excitement for his live performance. I was looking forward to seeing him bear his soul on stage. His performance had me feeling introspective and all the ladies swooning over his emotionally revealing ballads. Although the performance was dark at times, it’s clear how bright of a future Garrett has.
It only felt right showing love for Brooklyn based acts Small Black and Empress Of. Did a little catching up with Small Black before their set and learned that they too originated from Long Island and are equally as indifferent about place as I am, small world. They played the intimate Bandshell Stage and delivered a fun feel-good set that. The Empress Of set was an easy stand out of the weekend as she layered her voice and beats perfectly in the night air that set all the right vibes. She has a strong and unique presence on stage that was mesmerizing to watch, and as a woman, empowering to watch.
With the new lineup of Crystal Castles came a lot of questions. Why didn’t they change their name? How would they sound? How is Edith doing with the crown on her head? It is safe to say that they proved themselves to be the same ol’ Crystal Castles. Edith is a nice addition bringing lots of jumping, water, roses and black lipstick as she performs atop the production cases and putting on quite rambunctious show as openers for The Flaming Lips.
One thing I’ve come to learn in all my years of attending music events is that when you get to see The Flaming Lips it hard for a smile to leave your face through the entirety of the show and for quite some time following. When they perform they create this loving, trippy world that they want everyone to embrace and embody and it’s something that everyone in the crowd welcomed with open arms. Their show was all the fun you expected but also beautiful and emotional at times, specifically when Wayne spoke of David Bowie. His words were kind and heartfelt of his friend, musician, and most of all revolutionary human being that we all adore and miss. With that, The Lips went into their tribute and self-proclaimed last performance of Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, plastic ball in the crowd and all. It was a moment that I felt special to be a part of and something that won’t be forgotten.
House of Creatives Music Festival brought to Miami a wonderfully curated lineup of artists that hand delivered a second wave of summer for a perfect winter getaway. It’s hard not to look forward to the growth and potential that is possible with HOCFest, but they have something special on their hands and with a successful year one in the books I can say this is a festival to keep on your radar.