By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
South Florida has more local bands than ever before and more people going to see thesm. And you know what? It doesn't mean shit, not when the scene's a scattered mess.
This has always been the biggest pain in the ass for the people who make things happen around here. And though Fort Lauderdale is smack in the center of it, the town feels the sting every bit as much as any of its neighboring cities. Its music scene has no nucleus, no epicenter a place where people hang out whether their bands are playing or not.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Not when there are joints like The G. Yes, the place that used to be known as Gumwrappers Bikini Dance Club. Changing its name last month was just the last part of a transformation to rock club, one that's been more than a year in the making.
Located on A1A just north of Oakland Park Boulevard, it's not out of the way. And because it's not large enough to book national bands, the G has the potential to be the local spot a place where new bands can develop a fanbase and hook up with other groups as well.
Go ahead. Roll your eyes like a properly jaded scenester. Just don't complain the next time you're bored on a Friday night because there's "nowhere to go around here." And don't even try peddling your whiny bullshit to someone like Christopher Lee, the outspoken drummer of Death Becomes You and an employee of the G. Like many Broward County residents, Lee moved from New York, and he wouldn't mind returning one day. But for now, he's more interested in making things happen in the 954 and he thinks the G is the right place to do it.
"That place could be the next CBGB as far as South Florida is concerned," Lee says. "That's what I thought from the minute I went there. That's why I got involved in it. Everyone who works there does it for love of music because they're not making any money."
Lee should know. Though he works at the G only a few nights a week, he's been frequenting the club since it began hosting local shows at the beginning of last year. In fact, most of the people who work there are in bands, from General Manager Dean Garrow (who fronts the trio Knickers Down) to the G's newest employee, AkKi, the synth player and programmer in Human Factors Lab.
On a recent Friday night at 11, AkKi, with a headful of pink hair tucked beneath a cat-ear hat, was trying to direct traffic into the club.
On the sidewalk outside the G, she tried to get the attention of passing motorists on Federal Highway with two signs one read "G," the other "Spot."
Hey, man, sex sells. It was AkKi's first night working as a server at the G. Though her band wasn't playing tonight, she was just doing her part to get people into the club to get passers-by to not pass her by.
"Come on in to the G! We've got live music!" AkKi shouted.
A driver honked. Another stared. Some gawked; some didn't even look. Just then, a ragged, weather-worn, apparently drunken woman approached. She'd been walking northbound on the sidewalk and didn't look like she'd be up for seeing any loud rock bands. Indiscriminately, AkKi offered her the bait.
"Hey! Do you like music? We've got live bands tonight," she said.
The woman stopped for a moment, answered with a confusing bit of friendly but incoherent muttering, and then continued her slow trek up A1A. But that's just as well; AkKi also had a small group of patrons inside to check on.
Garrow took AkKi's place outside the door. And not a minute passed before a young guy in a buttoned-down dress shirt and pleated pants approached, having just parked his SUV. Garrow knew exactly what the guy wanted.
"Does this place still have dancers?" the man asked, almost like he was jonesing for drugs. "I live in New York and haven't been back here in years. I'm just looking for a good strip club."
"Not anymore," Garrow answered. "This is a music club."
Dejected, the boob fiend walked back to his vehicle.
Garrow meanwhile, had other things to think about than disappointing horny former frat boys. His headliner, the Stop Motion, had canceled.
It's hardly the first time a band had flaked on him. And besides, it takes a lot to get on Garrow's shit list. Having managed the club since its days of bikini dancing, Garrow's had his share of bullshit from patrons and dancers alike. But when he added live music to the mix, it was only a matter of time before the club got its rock 'n' roll christening, Who style. And it was delivered by none other than Fang, the Creepy T's (now former) drummer, whose Keith Moon-like antics got him booted from the club as well as from the band.