In Music, We Give Back: Nustereo Love’s Concert For Good

(Junette Reyes)

Brickell is an inhospitable wasteland. At least, as a native Miamian, I thought of it as one. The weird, large sidewalks are littered with tech bros, New York City transplants, homegrown billionaires, and the occasional Kendall-dweller who’s been dragged to have, like, a totally fantastic bar crawl, bro. Like everything in Miami, Brickell only shows you authenticity if you know where to look. And, somewhere under the Metrorail to nowhere lies a spit of green called The Underline. For now, it’s a 7-block stretch of gardens, sport courts, and biking trails, ending with a sound stage. Fittingly named The Underline’s Sound Stage, this open-air platform was the host to the equally well-named Concert for Good, presented by NuStereo Love. Unlike other concerts, which I attend for bad and pleasurable things, NuStereo Love hosts events that benefit charities, like tonight’s charity, Guitars Over Guns. I walked in, among the asphalt and honking cars, towards the tiny green oasis. The space, usually a single slab of concrete, appeared before me, transformed. Tacos from Taquiza were slung, and the smell of fresh blue corn masa toasting welcomed me as I entered. A vintage VW bus, sponsored by Sprightful and powered by solar panels, squeezed fresh orange juice. The Corner, an institution I’m all too familiar with, served cocktails. On the main stage, warm woven rugs were strewn, a large bamboo installation framed the musicians, and a disco ball floated above the performers. 

The smell of the place surprised me. I’m used to stale beer, clandestine weed, and the general miasma of the hoi polloi. In this speck of Brickell, I smelled Santal 33, patchouli, and all the other herbs that make up the eau du Wynwood. I settled off to the side by the guitars over guns booth, watching the general crowd, vendors, and musicians settle into the living organism of a live music event. 

The first act of the night was Ledoux – a South Florida singer/songwriter with a voice that’s almost too smooth for his furry leopard-print bucket hat and clout goggles. His acoustic set was a great way to start a night that would slowly drift towards the electronic, and I noted with a special glee the way the lineup flowed from ‘pop artist with acoustic guitar’ to ‘DJ with an electric guitar’. Ledoux’s newest single, “Beautiful Tragedy”, is a pop R&B track with plenty of catchy hooks and snappy mainstream potential. 

The second act of the night, Soleil, threw down with tropical, modern R&B covers. Her voice was strong, smooth, and warm — like a comfortable sip of bourbon. I was eager to hear her original work, which, to my delight, she performed. One of my favorites was “Rubbish”, with a catchy hook and groovy instrumentation. Another standout was “Zodiac”, off of her 2023 dance album, “Love / Sounds + Robots”. A self-described samba, the strong dance beat and tropical cadence worked well with the crowd. Her backing band, composed of musicians that we’d be seeing later in the night, was a highlight. The guitarist had a particularly twinkly opening to “Heartstrings” which, as a known midwest emo enjoyer, made me extra happy. 

The third act of the night was Pockit, which is an experimental funk/jazz improvisation/almost-shoegaze electronic music outfit . This band is the definition of “grooves”, with 10-minute plus improvisations, funky basslines, and fun back-and-forth moments between a keyboardist and guitarist who know each other well. This type of music served the crowd, who were mingling with each other, talking to reps from Guitars Over Guns, and generally enjoying the laid-back vibes. Their set rounded out with a cover of Bill Withers’ “Use Me”, with a little surprise visit from Soleil and Ledoux to jump in on the vocals. 

The evening crept and settled into night as our final act hopped on stage. Katie Ox and Mike Garulli were more interesting than any other DJ-esque performer I’ve seen. Katie worked her magic, which is far beyond my ken other than ‘woah, that beat drop and transition was so good’. Mike riffed on his guitar, matching Katie’s performance and getting into that rare breed of live improvisation that gets a crowd to groove. The crowd pushed further, dancing, inebriated, and tossing inflatable beach balls with uncoordinated grace at each other.

(Junette Reyes)

As the crowd danced into the night, I thought about my place there. The average income for a household in Brickell is $77 thousand. Overtown, the historically Black neighborhood a few streets away, has an average household income of $18.3 thousand. Brickell, fed by the I-95, has its own neighborhood public transit loop, with 13 stops. Overtown, cleaved down its heart by the construction of the I-95, has exactly two Metrorail stops, and no neighborhood loop. Affluent Miamians swayed and laughed to glittery smooth music in the night air. Miamians walked by The Underline’s Sound Stage and stopped, listening to the music that couldn’t be contained by the gates or ticketed entry. As the night faded, a clear thought emerged. If the newly-minted NYC-Miamians, finance Bitcoin bros, tech-disruptors and general hustlers could enjoy our local musicians and (whether knowingly or not) contribute towards a good cause in our community, it’s alright with me. Perhaps, even with all my narrow-eyed Miami cynicism, the Brickell wasteland could turn towards something for good — a community park under public transportation, with live music for all to hear that directly helps causes in our community.

Guitars Over Guns is a charity that has helped over 1,400 students from vulnerable communities receive a music education and mentorship. They have outposts in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and you can find more information about them on their website, www.guitarsoverguns.org.

NuStereo love is dedicated to creating events that connect musicians, music lovers, and charities. Their next Concert for Good will be on October 12th, and you can find more information about them on their website, www.nustereolove.com. 

Ledoux is a pop/R&B singer-songwriter from South Florida. You can listen to his newest single, “Beautiful Tragedy”, on all streaming services.

Soleil is a R&B-fusion singer-songwriter from New York City, now based in South Florida. You can listen to her latest album “Love / Sounds + Robots”, on all streaming services.

Pockit is an experimental, electronic funk band from South Florida. You can listen to their latest single, “No Headlights”, on all streaming services.

Katie Ox and Mike Garulli are a hybrid DJ-guitarist live duo. You can listen to their live set from NuStereo Love’s Concert for Good here.

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