The North Beach Bandshell is a modest venue with a maximum capacity of 1,483 people. However, at night, the open-air amphitheater is much grander with the sky and the stars operating as a cosmic ceiling that stretches towards infinity.
Rhye, a project created by the combined efforts of Canadian vocalist Milosh and Danish instrumentalist and producer, Robin Hannibal, shares several qualities with the bandshell. Milosh remains as the sole founding member, with the singer-songwriter expanding the duo into a full blown six-piece for tours and the group’s forthcoming sophomore record. Thanks to his uncanny voice, which has often been compared to Sade for good reason, what initially seems like a collection of simple, downtempo R&B songs, suddenly erupts into a series of soft, quiet explosions.
Rhye’s debut, 2013’s Woman, has the power to transform any moment, any mood, and any room into the most sensual version of itself. Such was the case Saturday night at the Bandshell. Despite the hubbub of Collins Avenue and the ocean just over the back wall of the venue, Rhye’s hypnotic sounds shielded the crowd from any outside noise. Further creating a sense of intimacy were the various strings of light bulbs overhead and metal bleachers below, as if the concert was occurring in someone’s backyard just after a barbecue. It was a gentle, resplendent setting optimal for a band like Rhye, which did their part in adding to the ambiance with a setlist that leaned on lush tones and silky rhythms.
The scenery was so romantic, even the bitterest old cynic couldn’t resist falling in love.
In other words, the environment was perfect for Rhye’s Miami debut. For their part, Miami fans were extremely receptive, eager eyes and smiling lips sprinkled throughout the large group that crowded near the stage. Unfailingly, from song to song, Milosh’s voice was just as enchanting and just as lovely in person as it is on record. Judging by the hearty round of applause after the opening song, it was clear plenty of people in Miami had been waiting for that very moment.
Although they performed different takes of “3 Days” and “Woman,” these re-interpretations retained their soulful qualities; there were solemn strings, that occasionally escalated in power and vigorousness, led by gorgeous lead vocals and hushed backing vocals. That being said, the live version of “Woman” was like a beast set loose from its cage. The bedroom affair was out in public making its mark. This rendition was more limber, akin to a Baptist choir at a jazz club or vice versa. “Last Dance,” appropriately enough, had a hitch in its step, with a wicked funk vibe laid down by the bassist. The brass section turned this once somber number in a downright danceable jam. Meanwhile, “Hunger” was the big band, disco groove it always begged to be.
Perhaps the only disappointing part of the evening was the finale. Sadly, Rhye did not cave into the audience’s desperate pleas for an encore. Maybe we’re spoiled and accustomed to encores being one of those things that almost all musicians do or maybe they were just so good, that enough wasn’t enough. Either way, the show was over and for the lucky few there, what we did experience would have to suffice, a reality hardly anyone would be upset about.