Miami Ex-Pats, L.A. Transplants People on Fire Play Polish American Club Tonight

Miami natives Erik Slemon and Matt Gardner first started making music together more than a decade ago, when they were still apple-cheeked students at Coral Gables High and Columbus, respectively. Perhaps those early attempts were humble -- "We played, like, Nirvana covers at a couple of house parties," Gardner recalls recently, laughing.

But when high school ended, the two ended up far-flung -- Gardner at Florida State, and Slemon in Colorado, where he wound up in a hardcore band that toured nationally and started its own label. But perhaps it was kismet, then, that they reconnected in Los Angeles a couple years back. Gardner was working as a comedy writer there, and Slemon had moved his his hardcore act to the city in an abortive attempt to strike it bigger.
The longtime friends realized the music they made together was better than anything they had done with their respective projects. Thus was born People on Fire, originally conceived as a two-person deal, but later rounded out as a full band. With Slemon on bass, guitars, and vocals, and Gardner on  the same -- plus synths --  they began to weave a multi-layered tapestry of indie pop and electronic experimentation.

"We don't sit down and try to write, say, shoegaze space rock one day. We write a lot of different things, and we're still refining our sound," Slemon says. Be that as it may, the shoegaze tag isn't inappropriate -- there are plenty of wall-of-sound sonic theatrics for people into that. Interpol fans will find much to like in the driving, dark synth-driven hooks of songs like "Statues." Above all, though, Slemon's vocals are sweet, and keep things anchored in pop.

Check it tonight at the Polish American Club, in a Miami-tastic lineup that includes punk rock lifers the Crumbs, and up-and-coming bratty space-riffers Rebel.

People on Fire, with Rebel and the Crumbs. Friday, July 3. Polish American Club, 1250 NW 22nd Ave., Miami Show starts at 9 p.m. 305-635-2240;

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