Charmed and Dangerous

A bad attitude is all a guy needs on punk-rock night

"That's what's missing in the world — a sense of danger," Robbio told me just as the first punk band was taking the stage at the Brick. "There's no danger, not even from punk bands... because you get in trouble, you get kicked off MTV, you get sued because some kid got his face punched in a mosh pit."

I had interrupted the comedian as he sketched out poster ideas for his newest show, Destroy Comedy. He was looking for an edginess that had eluded him. "How do I bring a sense of danger back to comedy?" Robbio asked.

"Tell racist jokes at the Apollo," I suggested.

"I think I'm gonna go dance," he said as the Ruins began their feedback assault. Robbio improvised a dance that looked part Pee-wee Herman and part autistic epileptic. It wasn't pretty, but at least it wasn't the bored booty shake that the boy-shorts-wearing bimbos had done on the bar the last time I was at the Fort Lauderdale Riverfront nightspot.

Meanwhile, I went straight for the stranger in the Los Straight Jackets T-shirt. Scooter, as he asked to be called, was an FAU accounting student with a less-than-perfect record thanks to a D-plus in marketing.

"My GPA is 2. 666," he said meaningfully.

"So which band did you come out for?" I asked.

"I'm here to see my friend — what's his name? — from Slammie Productions," he replied. "I can't remember his name."

Not so helpful. So I turned to the dude with the Band-Aid-sized sideburns, Western shirt, and a bad attitude.

Maybe it was just the energy drink and vodka that spurred me on, but suddenly I had a little giddyup in me. I gave him my flirtiest smile, but he wasn't budging from his cool-guy deadpan. "So which band are you here to see?" I asked.

"None."

I was beginning to wonder who was here to see the bands.

"You a regular?" I speculated, thinking he might be disgruntled by the invasion of the punk crowd, one of whom was moved to dance by jumping with one leg forward and the other flung backward at the knee like he was propelling himself on an imaginary skateboard.

He shook his head. Tough nut. Didn't matter; I had all night to get him to open up.

I finally guessed correctly that he was actually in one of the bands — Die Stinkin' — and after I gushed over how much I liked his Rickenbacker guitar, he introduced himself as Matt and confessed, "I'm a little drunk. By the time we play, I'll just be sloppy."

As the Ruins called it quits, the place was still well below capacity. From his booth with "Slave to the Machine" spray-painted across it, the DJ began to spin and offered tickets to a February Lovelorns show at Maguire's if anyone could identify the old-school, local band whose music he was playing. No one stepped forward. The energy and attitude that usually defines the punk scene barely had a pulse or a sneer. The only attitude was Matt's, and he just seemed cranky.

It was the first time the Brick was trying this punk night, and as Assistant Manager Challo Schotts acknowledged, "Even though we're right downtown, people don't seem to know we're here. We're bringing in Slammie [a music promoter] and doing live shows two Sundays a week."

Huh?

"Yeah, we're borrowing extra days," he laughed at his mistake (he'd meant there'd be live music twice a month). "We gotta make money somehow."

In the lull between acts, I adjourned to the "patio" — actually just a few hightops without seats out front — where people could enjoy their drinks as a glittery rainbow of Super-Fly rides rolled by on their dubs and 24s. When a guy in a leather hat, cowboy boots, and a Neil Diamond shirt took the stage inside, I could barely hear him over the beats pumping out of the open windows of the cruising Impalas, Cutlasses, and Caddies.

New Times' former music editor — known in these pages as Fats Pompano but now just plain Jason again — was standing out front, so I took the opportunity to ask about his band, the Bittercups. We'll be seeing Jason on stage more now that he's no longer covering the scene.

I later tried again, without success, to connect with the sideburn-sporting musician, Matt: "I'm not sure if you're mocking me or flirting with me. I'll know for sure if you pull my pigtail," I told him at one point as he stared blankly at me.

Not one to give up easily, I spotted him talking to a couple of girls I'd met earlier — one in a pink satin headband and her friend with the black- and white-striped shirt and a lightning-bolt necklace. It inspired me to do a little female bonding to get some info on him. Ms. Lightning Bolt (whose parents named her Jennifer) laughed when I commented on the musician's grumpy demeanor.

"Matt meets everything with hostility," she said with a gleam in her eyes, which were so big and green that they reminded me of martini olives.

Maybe Sir Grumpalot's attitude was contagious, because when I asked her friend Ms. Pink Headband's name, she declined to give it.

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