I was a little bit apprehensive leading into Hurricane Production’s spring concert, UTOPIA.
The event was held at the University of Miami’s Foote Green on April 5th and featured Florida rockers Surfer Blood and the hip hip-hop duo aptly named The Cool Kids.
The selection of this line-up seemed to have been a catch-22. In many ways it appeased past critics of Hurricane Productions who say the organization should cater to the fans of alt-rock bands and lesser-known yet good quality acts when booking performers for their events; essentially a plea for diversity. On the other hand, these performers didn’t have the easy draw an act with a more mainstream appeal might have had, like Diplo did for example, at last year’s spring concert. In the end, with the line-up that they went with, there perhaps wasn’t as big of a crowd that the organizers expected.
But perhaps a better question would be rather numbers mattered. At least for me, the answer was no.
What was lacking in crowd size was made up for in crowd energy. That energy seemed to be directly related to the energy of the performers who seemed to really connect with the audience that had come to hear their music.
Surfer Blood was the first act up and quickly set the bar as far as the stage presence necessary to motivate the crowd to let loose. At several points during the set, lead singer John Paul Pitts literally dove into the idea of engaging the crowd by crowd-surfing and he wrapped up their performance by playing in the middle of a very appreciative crowd.
After some legal issues last year with their lead singer, the band played a solid set musically and really seem to be in a good place overall. They’re releasing a new album and embarking on a tour to support it. With that being said, this was an especially important performance for their home-state fans because according to a tweet the band set out in advance of the show, it’s going to be there “last South Florida show for a long time”.
As Surfer Blood broke down their set-up after their set, those in the audience that apparently came specifically there to see them filed out of the show but were quickly replaced by another crowd moving close to the stage for a set by The Cool Kids.
The Cool Kids, which consists of Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish, made the stage their own, seamlessly transitioning between tracks and each others lines. While they weren’t as invested in the crowd as Pitts was, the duo gratuitously handed out handshakes to those right in front of the stage. The most memorable moment was when the duo had to go a cappella late in the show due to a technical issue with the set up their DJ was using. Despite that, they both figuratively and literally didn’t miss a beat and really just shrugged it off. The Cool Kids played it cool.
In addition to the performances, the event also brought out several food trucks that apparently have become a must-have at HP events and even a bounce house. While it perhaps wasn’t able to replicate the festival atmosphere HP said they were going for, it was still a solid event on an otherwise rainy and drab day in Coral Gables.
words and photos_hyan freitas.