Friday Night: Astari Nite at PS14

astari nite bat.jpg
Astari Nite
Friday, June 5, 2009
Flamingo Fridays at PS14, Miami

Better Than:
A pop goth cocktail

As my esteemed colleague (and de facto boss) Arielle Castillo so keenly wrote in these pages last September, Astari Nite singer Mychael Ghost is unquestionably "a proper frontman." Which is to say (as she said), that he is "a center-stage, singular figure of idolatry," who is, perhaps most importantly, very "hard to ignore."

Ghost also happens to be quite cool; in fact he's one of the coolest guys around. And taking the stage at PS14 last Friday night, that cool is evident in everything he does.

Like a wisp, Ghost slips up to microphone in a rush of hushed confidence -- a quick step, a determined glance, and a graceful hand on the stand which holds his chosen device. He's born and bred to be front and center, and that means manning the mike and mouthing the words that will sway the world to see things his way.
But Ghost is more than a mere machine through which the world can view itself as he pictures it. No, he's a visionary, and his eyes mean to serve as a portal into our very own souls.

Naturally, looking deep inside ourselves isn't pretty, which is why we need pretty boys like Ghost in the first place. Someone alluring to handle all that unseemliness. "You put me in the hospital," he sings in "Forever Yours Forever Mine," and thus lays bare his irreparable heart. As anyone who's ever suffered a heavy love loss can tell you, it can be quite a gory sight to behold.

Of course Ghost doesn't do all this without a little help from a few good friends, in this case R. Furey, Albert Grey, and Illa, the respective bassist, guitarist, and drummer which round out the foursome that comprises Astari Nite. Each on their own are accomplished players of individual charm, but one suspects that it takes a ghost of a man like Ghost to truly give them the tangibility of a band.

And indeed it is some band, steeped in the mire of Joy Division and the Cure, resplendent in the showiness of a Placebo or a Suede, revved by the same kinda engines that drive, say, She Wants Revenge or The Libertines, and loaded with the intent which made those names a part of our collective vocabulary.

In other words, Astari Nite has no intention of remaining one of Miami's least best kept secrets. They're set to embed themselves into pop's pantheon, even if they've gotta do so one soul at a time. And watching the crowd this past weekend go from questioning to converted as Astari Nite staged at PS14 on another action-packed Flamingo Friday, one gets the feeling that this band is well on its way.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Any band that names a song "True Romance" is better than a-okay by me. That's my all-time favorite love story movie.

Random Detail: Indeed the set began with a small coterie of the faithful at the foot of the stage, and by the time the band had finished, the coterie had become a bona fide crowd.

By the Way: You can next catch Astari Nite on June 10 at Automatic Slim's up in Lauderdale.
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