Just a block or two away from Lincoln Road, Miamis people watching heaven and counterpart to New Yorks Fifth Avenue, is the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater. An impressive white and blue building, the Fillmore is a wonderful reminder of Miamis Art Deco days of the ’50s and ’70s eras. Its columned, marquee-style facade inspires an architectural nostalgia that is only found nowadays in vintage themed diners… and with reason.
Back in the day, which would be the 1950s, the Fillmore hosted a variety of classic performances and saw some big names of the era in its audience. Characters such as Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope were often found attending a show or another, and the theater soon became home to the countrys biggest beauty pageants. Exciting, no? That was but the beginning.
Today, you can be sure that anyone who comes to the Fillmore will put on a fantastic show. Although the venue has been swallowed by Live Nation and its corporate brouhaha, theyve done a rocking job at maintaining the same intimate feel that was trademark of Bill Grahams original San Francisco Fillmore Auditorium. Considering the Miami Beach Fillmore seats over 2,000, this is an admirable feat. The place is beautiful and the light schemes they put on are similar to a psychedelic dream. Teeming with purplish crystal chandeliers and deliciously comfortable plush burgundy seats, the auditorium is enveloped in a magnificent dark aura that holds the mystique of an opera house turned living room.
The acoustics are absurdly fine, too, making for a truly delightful aural experience, and every seat in the house is positioned just right to feel like the best one. Now, theres no smoking allowed in the theater. But we all know thats not a rule - just a suggestion. When acts like the beastly Mars Volta or locomotive David Byrne have taken the stage, theres no stopping the entranced fans from doing just about anything the music drives them to.
There can be a handful of drawbacks to a big name venue, like the uptight security and sometimes impersonal feeling, but its amazing how at the Fillmore these irritable facets just seem to disappear. Ive never been to any other large venue and felt so involved with the crowd and the artist. There’s even a homey smell to the theater that reminds me of a grandpa house made of wood - thats just impossible to fabricate. When it comes to pricing, the Fillmores not the best, but they do offer tickets anywhere from $10 up, and have special offers pretty often that override Live Nations ridiculous ticket fees.
Any show played at this theater is sure to be more than just an epic gig, its an historical event. If your favorite band is coming to Miami, theyre more than likely to play the Fillmore, and you should be more than likely to be there.
The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater
1700 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139-7540
09/27 Enanitos Verdes
10/09 Thievery Corporation
10/10 Australian Pink Floyd
11/21 Jackson Browne
12/06 The All-American Rejects, Taking Back Sunday