Robert Elias Says Pop Artists Get No Respect in Miami: "It's As If You Can't Be Cool Enough"

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The debate over the merit -- or lack thereof -- of various Miami venues for live music recurs pretty much every day across the local blogosphere and social media landscape.

One day, it's commercial radio rock that's getting the shaft. The next day, it's all bands, indie rock or not. And so goes the largely Facebook- and Twitter-fueled infighting.

But one talented local artist posits a new twist: It's actually, says Robert Elias, musicians unafraid to wave the pop flag who have it the worst in Miami.

"For some strange reason people are afraid of pop music and what it means to be labeled a pop artist. But I've always been fascinated by it," says the 20-something Elias, who recently self-released a solo album titled Magic City in homage to his hometown.

"What makes it difficult is trying to convince some of the newer bars, promoters, and booking agents that a pop show can be a live rock show that fans want to come see. It's ironic, because the biggest-selling acts in the world are pop acts. It's almost as if, because you are doing pop music, you can't be indie or cool enough for these venues."

Veneer of coolness or not, Elias is proud to wave the pop flag. He got his start locally in the Latin industry, writing songs, touring, and singing background for mega-artists like Alejandro Sanz, Don Omar, and Marc Anthony. But from the beginning, he dreamed of doing universal, danceable solo work.

Elias's childhood idols included the likes of David Bowie and George Michael, along with late-'80s and early-'90s R&B and dance music. That translates, in 2012, to an artsy yet crowd-pleasing style that traverses sunny, catchy guitar-driven ditties ("Come on Over"), torch song-style soul ("Saved"), and, perhaps in a nod to the city's clubs, pulsing, New Age-y disco-pop ("Night Calls").

With a pro songwriter's knack for memorable melodies and concise song structure, Elias has created a body of work that's unabashedly radio-friendly. But with an aim at arenas, he says it's difficult trying to find local stepping stones to get there.

Luckily, he says, in the past few months, opportunities for him and a few other like-minded artists, such as female-fronted band Roky Sofi, have improved. "I created a band, the Revenge, because venues were less judgmental of the music if I had a cool band name, and we've been gigging a ton. I love playing Brickell Irish Pub, Bougainvillea's, and recently I played a benefit for the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center that was amazing," he says. "Usually it takes someone who is willing to take the chance."

Another venue taking a chance is the Clevelander Hotel, where Elias takes the stage on Wednesday, May 30, and where he promises entertainment on par with that of any full rock band and an ethos as indie as it comes. "As of right now, I am my own manager, promoter and booking agent and thankfully, I am not living in the streets. I'm making a living doing music only," he says. "If that's not what an independent artist is, then I don't know what is."

Robert Elias and the Revenge. Wednesday, May 30. The Clevelander Hotel, 1020 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. The show starts at 9 p.m. and admission is free. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-532-4006 or visit clevelander.com.

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The Clevelander Hotel

1020 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

Category: General

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8 comments
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EddyD.
EddyD.

Whether pop or not, talent is what should shine...and Robert Elias has it. Forget about pigeonholes and just sing Robert... We're listening!!!

Fernando Perdomo
Fernando Perdomo

Robert is as good as it gets down here in the pop game. 

Lmqmaria
Lmqmaria

Pop music is more than just a popularity contest. It takes the ability to have what it takes to represent Miami in the big time! Robert Elias has it. Just go to one of his shows!!!!! If you know music and you singers, then you know that he is one of the few chances Miami has to break! If you are hating it's because you are threatened. #robbieloversunite

Tony
Tony

I've been watching live acts around this city for years now and if you haven't seen Robert Elias perform you are missing out on one of the most important talents ever to hit the stage in Miami. His voice is incredible! 

Ricardo Diaz-Albertini
Ricardo Diaz-Albertini

Been playing here for years, its just not a live music city(well for unknowns).  Its a dance club town, and were filling the edges.

Athot
Athot

Much respect to any and all musicians, but here's the thing, it ain't pop till it's actually popular, so, all those "pop" bands and performers actually are the tru defintn of indie music. they the ones who separate themselves and then complain about it

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