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Saturday, September 24, 2022

“Night Before Gainesville” shines spotlight on talented Florida artists

Night Before Media connects a film and music festival to a high-energy after-party concert

Gainesville’s robust music scene united in blockbuster numbers for a full day of camaraderie Saturday.

Beyond the lofty columns of the Hippodrome stood more than 40 music enthusiasts who waited in line to receive their neon wristbands to grant them right of entry. Inside the theater, film memorabilia reminiscent of the early 20th-century silent film era lined the walls. Awaiting them was an array of riveting, vividly-colored music videos and short films from the blue waters of the port of Miami to the green shrubbery of a North Florida suburb. 

If viewers weren’t drawn into the story-telling elements of a nightclub robbery at the music video screening, they were definitely on the edge of their seats hoping a UF student made it home safely in the short film screening.

“Night Before Gainesville” screened more than 120 music videos and short films from Florida-based artists and filmmakers at the Hippodrome Theater. The event charged $20 through an online purchase or $25 at the door, which gave attendees access to about four hours of cinematic and musical art.

Later in the night, more than 100 attendees made their way to “Night After Gainesville,” a larger-than-life afterparty held at How Bazar on 60 SW 2nd St. The storefront was decked out with clothing vendors offering vibrant vintage threads from fly fashions trends of the past. 

Headlined by multi-platinum music producer Kaelin Ellis, the electric afterparty opened the stage for some of the most talented artists in North Florida. The innumerably diverse acts ranged from grungy indie-rock to glitchy yet gentle alt pop to the ethereal hip-hop sub-genre, Pluggnb.

Gainesville videographer Will Hinson, 24, and Jarell Daniels, a 27-year-old creative director who is known as Sky Luca$, created the media agency “Night Before Media.” They hoped to bolster Florida-based artistry beyond the typical artist promotion prevalent on quick-scrolling social media platforms. 

“We want to show all levels of what people do,’” Daniels said. “We want everyone to get a chance to shine.”

After selling out Miami-Dade College’s Tower Theater at their “Night Before Miami” event in January, Daniels and Hinson got a taste of the true impact a music film festival could have on the local music community. Energized by the first event’s success, they wanted to bring the show back home to Gainesville. 

Kay Bridges, a Miami-based singer-songwriter and longtime “Night Before Media” collaborator was attracted to the immense level of artistry brewing 500 miles away.

“The essence of ‘Night Before Media’ is to provide a platform for people to showcase their work,” Bridges said.

Two years ago, the 25-year-old vocalist clinched an opportunity to work with Hinson and Daniels while Hinson was in search of a great vocalist to hop on a beat Hinson produced.  

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Ever since the collaboration, it was just a matter of building a tight-knit family of Florida artists who support each other.

Suliman Gabel, also known as Sully Gees, a close collaborator of Will and Jarell, felt a sense of community in Night Before Media and marveled at the collective's supportive culture.

"We’re just a bunch of kids making music who decided to put on a red carpet event for all these other musicians who also make music as well as ourselves,” the 26-year-old said. “It’s about empowering musicians.”

The Saudi Arabia-born artist gravitated toward Gainesville about six years ago after years of collaborating with Gainesville-based legendary producer and audio engineer, Thomas Swanson. The artist has been a member of the Gainesville music community ever since. 

Being a part of the “Night Before Gainesville” event was an awe-inspiring moment for Gabel. 

“To have your video played at the Hippodrome; of all the theaters in Gainesville, the Hippodrome?” Gabel said.

Gabel made a name for himself in the Gainesville music scene by performing at local open-mic events, showcases and eventually headlining his own shows. “Night Before Gainesville” served as the ultimate showcase of the supportive nature of Gainesville artists. 

“It’s just like you and your friends are finally doing something massive; something special,”  Gabel said. “It’s a great breeding ground for creativity.” 

The event ended in great fashion as the “Night After Gainesville” concert roared on throughout the wee hours of the night. Artists like 21-year-old Orlando Kenny, also known as zl!ster, were humbled to be a part of such an encouraging event.

Zl!ster, a Tallahassee-based performer currently living in Atlanta, appreciated the festival as a way to meet new artists. The indie-pop and hip-hop artist freshly quit his first corporate job to pursue his artistry full-time, so the festival was his chance to put his artwork on display.

“It’s cool to be in front of a space like this because you can appreciate other people's art and you can go and talk to the artist afterwards and network,” Kenny said.

When it’s all said and done, Night Before Media aims to inspire music scenes from across the country with their community outreach efforts.

“Once you do several events in different cities, you’re empowering communities of music nationwide and eventually worldwide,” Gabel said. 

Contact Dazion at dprosser@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @DazionProsser.




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