Published on February 21st, 2017


Tortoise by Andrew Paynter

Tortoise by Andrew Paynter

It’s been 13 years since the instrumental indie rock band Tortoise played Miami, at the Polish American Club. They finally return for a second Miami show to play the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach, and percussionist Dan Bitney assures the band is prepared to deliver for its absence over the years.

Talking via phone from his Chicago home, Bitney notes that the band, which features fellow drummers John Herndon and John McEntire as well as bassist Doug McCombs and guitarist Jeff Parker, is at its tightest it has been for a while. Last year alone — since the release of their seventh album, 2016’s The Catastrophist — they have performed 117 shows.

Tortoise The Catastrophist cover

The Catastrophist cover

Bitney admits that he’s happy that the band now has a larger catalog to pull from. He says it allows for variety from show to show. Some band members will get tired of a song, so they drop it to freshen up the setlist. He adds that he can admire a band that consistently follows a setlist from show to show, but he wouldn’t want Tortoise to do it any other way.

“Sometimes you see a band, and you can tell they know their setlist. Sometimes I get jealous of that. I think that’s kinda cool, you know what I mean? That’s almost like the art of working a set, where you kinda just figure it out. But I like the way we do it, too, because it kinda changes, and we have that variation, so it’s nice.”

Asked if the band has any vintage surprises for their Miami show, he says, “Well, we don’t play a lot of the old super hits, but we do play stuff from each record pretty much. The good thing about this new record too is that — usually there’s about three things on a record that there’s no way we can play them, like physically, you know what I mean? But with this record we can play everything, so I think that’s a good thing. “

Rhythm Foundation presents Tortoise at The North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Sunday, March 19, at 7pm. Tickets are general admission. $27.50 advance, $35 at the door. Purchase HERE.

~ Hans Morgenstern | The Independent Ethos (

Clip to Evernote