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The Front Row Series debuts to wild success

Part of Raggy Monster's stage show :)
Part of Raggy Monster's stage show :)
Hali Neal

Will Call Miami was filled with a palpable sense of excitement from both the crowd and the bands as they waited for the Front Row series to begin.

Featuring performances from South Florida bands Scary Iowa, Raggy Monster, Wyld Fly, Sunghosts and Turnaround Sunshine, this series showed that more live music events should be all ages. People who normally wouldn’t be able to get into a show crowded into Will Call, hoping just to get a glimpse of their favorite band. The infusion of anticipation and enthusiasm for live music and performing was refreshing (and just the sort of thing that’s usually missing from a 21+ show). This came out in everything, from just regular conversations to crowd participation, which was unparalleled.

Scary Iowa was the first band up. From the great storytelling in their lyrics to their use of unusual instruments (they use an ocarina in Hunter’s Requiem) to the fun they have on stage, it’s always a treat to see them bring their blend of folk rock to the stage. The drummer did a lot to make himself to stand out, like using his drum scraper to (jokingly) comb his hair. Whether it was because of the small stage or nerves, the guitar player seemed to be hiding behind the mandolin/keys player. This was a shame because the guitar player was very technically skilled on his instrument.

Next up was indie rock band Raggy Monster. Lead singer Rachel DuVall has an impressive range, but got off to a shaky start. Her high notes sometimes verged on shouty instead of coming off cleanly. That said, DuVall commands the stage with her ethereal personality. She knows how to strike a balance of having fun and when to be serious, as was evident from her taking full, joyous advantage of the set’s dance breaks. I also have to point out that their drummer, Sage Duvall, had only joined the band a week before, but it was anything but obvious to the listener. Even piano player Billy Schmidt got in on the fun by suggesting that these two guys in the crowd putting out some killer moves win the t-shirt contest for best dancer.

Alternative rock band Wyld Fly played next. If one is looking for groundbreaking music, I advise looking elsewhere. Although the argument can be made for “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, especially in the digital age, it’s rather disappointing to see such a new band reach such mediocre heights. Everyone in the band is technically proficient, however, and their looks will do them justice in the teen girl demo. The lighting didn’t do them any favors in terms of color or spotlighting them, unfortunately. Wyld Fly has a lot of work to do before they can really “break out”. For one thing, interacting with the crowd more and rehearsing jumping off any instruments could vastly improve stage presence. The crowd shouldn’t think the song is over because the music stopped for one to jump off the drum set. For another, while sounding like those whose music one admires has its benefits, it shouldn’t sound exactly like someone else’s work. One drum opening sounded so much like the opening to the All American Rejects’ “Move Along”, I thought they were going to dive into a cover of it.

It was a big night for Turnaround Sunshine. Not only was this their first show since reuniting, they also shot a live music video for their song “Actions > Words”. They emerged to their own theme song and brought an energetic, happy, pop-punk explosion to the stage. The whole band had great stage presence, especially guitarist Michael Martinez, who looked like he could barely contain his excitement to be on stage. They also did something very hard: played an outstanding cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that got the crowd moving. The only thing that could be improved is something for the sound person more than the band: the microphones could have been more evenly adjusted as the guitars frequently overpowered the vocals.

Rock band Sunghosts was like the perfect dessert after a great meal, leaving one smiling as the night drew to a close. They gave out glasses similar to 3D glasses that had the cool effect of making everything look like the inside of a kaleidoscope. They followed up on Turnaround Sunshine’s energy with their own signature blend of flair, attitude and fun. The lighting scheme created a perfect image of their name in the listener’s mind as it was a mix of orange and bright white light that gave all the band members a nice backlighting. Sunghosts’ bassist, Jared, was like a huge ray of sunshine himself. He radiated joy with his megawatt smile and his energy; it was something to be envied. Singer Nik just has “it”. His vocals combined with his dynamic personality to create a performance that was truly fun to watch.

The Front Row series was conceived as a way to showcase young bands ready to break. The monthly series aims to create a community for both the bands and fans alike to grow into. For more information, contact Master Key Entertainment at

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