The first time I saw Beach Day perform was from the periphery of a sweaty mosh pit at Gramps Bar in Wynwood, where the band opened up for pop-punk icons the Thermals. Skate videos showing epic, painful wipeouts ran continuously on loop, projected against the side of an adjacent building. A haze of pink lighting enveloped the trio, tempered only by a few Christmas lights slung sparsely and haphazardly inside the small performance tent. When slender lead singer Kimmy Drake introduced herself as “just a Kendall girl,” referring to the blasé Miami suburb known mostly for its Barnes & Noble, audience members stirred restlessly. But then she froze the crowd with vocals that would’ve made Jack White, Kim Deal, and Phil Spector each nod their heads in tacit, rhythmic, hypothetical approval.
Held in the city’s dormant summer months since 2012, The Miami Performance International Festival offers artists from the States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe a public platform far from Art Basel. Organized by artist and curator Charo Oquet the festival is unrefined compared to market-driven fairs, allowing artists to express challenging themes that emphasize the pressures of conformity and emotional states of being.