How an Instagram account became the harbinger of Miami’s underground music scene

Mia Rodriguez remembers the first locally hosted show she attended in Miami. 

It was April 20, 2019. She nearly stayed home that night and needed to be convinced by her friend to make it out to the Gibson Showroom in Wynwood, where local bands Palomino Blond, Cannibal Kids, The Polar Boys and Mustard Service would be playing.  

“At the end of night, everyone from all of the bands got together on stage and started singing ‘Take on Me’ by A-ha as the crowd sang back at them,” Rodriguez said. “There was this moment of tunnel vision that I had with the bands and nothing else really mattered. That’s when I fell in love with the local scene here in Miami.” 

The Underground Miami is an online platform created by Rodriguez, a visual artist who focuses on actively promoting local bands and musicians. Starting in 2020, following lockdowns due to COVID-19, the Instagram account now reaches over 2,000 followers.

Rodriguez grew up surrounded by music. Born in Miami of Colombian parents, she was introduced to Latin Rock music by her father, who boasts over 30 years of experience working as a sound engineer in the industry. 

A visual artist and guitarist herself, she had an itch to become part of a community of creatives that shared her passions. After attending that first show in April, Rodriguez pushed herself to go to more local events to seek out the growing community behind these concerts. 

“I was really scared at the beginning,” she said. 

At first, venturing out to shows alone was intimidating as a new face in a tightly-knit scene. 

“As scary as it is, it has helped me develop the platform that I run,” said Rodriguez. 

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, Rodriguez and some of her musician friends reminisced about the local shows they could no longer attend in person.

Rodriguez worried the underground music community that had been held together through live gatherings would fall apart. She launched her online platform to signal the scene was still here and going strong. 

The Underground Miami hosted its first live stream in October 2020, and showcased pre-recorded sets by local bands Burvvy, Donzii, and Palomino Blond at Electric Air Studios, with support from Gibson Guitars. The live stream also served as a fundraiser for Camillus House.

“It was a really fun and cool experience,” said Carli Acosta, guitarist and vocalist of Palomino Blond. “Mia’s not someone that does this stuff for clout, if there is even any semblance of clout you can get for talking about local bands. She really does come out and support the scene aside from the online stuff.” 

When Rodriguez went to Boston to study fine arts at Tufts University, the success of Underground Miami inspired her to open a sister account, The Underground Boston.

But Rodriguez has kept The Underground Miami account active by opening her platform to collaborate with local writers, photographers and any other creatives who want to be involved. 

Photographer Cameron Gonzalez was a follower of The Underground Miami and got into contact with Rodriguez while she was in Boston to extend a hand in content curation for the Miami platform. 

“I think it’s important to promote local music but to also give it its own platform which is exactly what The Underground does and I love it very much,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has taken on a mentor role for other contributors to the site. He has steered young photographers to contribute to The Underground to showcase their work.  

“It’s become like a community pillar for all creatives and Mia is so inviting to everyone,” said Gonzalez. 

Local band Iliad, performing at Shirley’s in Gramps Bar. Photo by Cameron Gonzalez.

“I’m very grateful to the community that there’s still support for the local scene and for these incredible local talents, and that’s why The Underground is still around,” said Rodriguez of her new contributors.

After four years of steady growth, Rodriguez said she wants to create a version of The Underground Miami in print by the end of 2024. 

“There’s a magic to a physical copy of a magazine and I really want that for The Underground,” said Rodriguez.  “I think physicality is so important in being able to connect with the media that you’re consuming, that’s why a song always sounds better on a vinyl player than on your phone.”

Hennessy Sepulveda is an FIU student who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree
in Digital Journalism. She obtained an associates in arts in Mass Communications/Journalism
from Miami Dade College. She has also worked as a contributing writer for PantherNow.