When Fort Lauderdale banished the under-21 posse from live-music venues within the posh city's limits, the kids cried foul. After all, they charged, who wants to carve out an emo-punk scene in Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, or Davie? But persevere they have, in exactly the noxious, nefarious suburban squalor they claim to hate. In fact, in Davie's venerable dive called Club Q, teenage punk is alive and well.
Or at least it was January 5, when a gathering of bands -- all of their members too young to go to shows in Fort Lauderdale -- performed at the "recently remodeled" club. True, the stage has been moved to a different side of the room since the last time I visited, and some couches have been placed in the corners, but Club Q can't disguise its previous incarnation as a cowboy bar. In fact it bears that hurried look of someone's room after mom tells 'em to pick it up -- in short, a perfect location for suburban punks to hang out.
As the Fort Lauderdale City Commission prepared to yank the rug of fun out from under them last summer, these teens insisted loudly and repeatedly that it wasn't about the booze, it was about the scene, man: creating a kid-friendly community well removed from the droll yuppie goo glazing downtown. And that is exactly what I saw at Club Q. Although the venue does have a bar, hardly any of the 100 or so kids in the club appeared to be even remotely interested in its presence. I witnessed no clandestine drinking.
But I did see a band called Used Goods, a youthful four-piece whose punk primer must contain all of two chapters: Blink 182 and Green Day. ("See Billie Joe whine. Whine, Billie Joe, whine.") Singer-guitarist Kenny Barr tried to make an audience connection by inviting the kids to follow the band to the Olive Garden after the show: "Good friends, good food, good fun," he joked. "You guys should come with us."
Unfortunately for Used Goods, precious few fans remained to take Barr up on his offer. Most of them filed out the door following a rambunctious set from Ireland, a young quintet from Sunrise. "If you noticed," observed Ireland guitarist Corey Haksel, "people came, showed up for us, and left." I did notice. The kind of band that sounds like the Circle Jerks even though its members are too young to remember them, Ireland is blessed with a loyal gang of friends and fans and an incredibly promising lead singer in 18-year-old Lindsay Sherman.
Sherman, well on her way to becoming the Gwen Stefani of South Florida, has the breathless enthusiasm and chutzpah to become a riveting frontwoman. Dancing and spinning in her red Metal Rules T-shirt and shiny jeans, Sherman thought she was hosting her own private party, opening presents and serving make-believe tea.
In a weird but true case of synchronicity, I was killing some time Friday night prior to my Club Q excursion, parked on the Bandwidth couch with a little VH1's Where Are They Now? to distract me. Tiffany was on the screen, warbling to the Orange Julius/Chick-fil-A set, and my eyes glazed over as she performed her version of "I Think We're Alone Now." It made me pine for the far superior Lene Lovich rendition, but a few hours later, Ireland set me straight with its slam-enhanced rendition, some perky originals (which were horrendously adorable), and especially the minor-key love song that closed the show. "I want to be with you forever," Sherman belted out, "but not right now" -- and she sounded like she meant it.
At least half of Ireland's attentive and supportive audience consisted of young women. The other half were well-behaved young male punks, keeping their rather innocuous mosh pit confined to the front of the stage. And it was nice to see the multiracial tangle of arms, legs, boots, and haircuts, including dreadlocks, Mohawks, and shaved pates. The average age was about 17.
(Y'know, sometimes I'll go out and feel sorta old, but when overheard conversations range from working at Baskin-Robbins to being grounded, my bones actually start aching and I start to entertain the idea of purchasing a Lil' Rascal as my next vehicle.)
Fort Lauderdale stopped allowing the under-21 crowd to hang out at night because of concerns about vandalism, public urination, fights, car alarms blaring, and public image. Too bad Mayor Jim Naugle didn't pay a visit to downtown Dania Beach that Friday night to see just how he's misjudged this pack. An appreciable throng of Club Q kids migrated down Griffin Road after the show, and not to shoot drugs, slash tires, or patronize after-hours drinking holes or crack dens. No, these kids did nothing more insidious than congregate peacefully at Morris Udall's Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor Restaurant and Country Store. Instead of busily lowering property values on Fort Lauderdale's beachfront, these troublemakers were slurping down $8 banana splits and buying gummi worms on the way out the door.
Damn good thing Naugle, Vice Mayor Tim Smith, Commissioner Gloria Katz, and their crack team of youth-intervention experts saw fit to keep these ice creameating mongrels at bay. To allow these rabble-rousers into their burg might fool tourists into thinking they've accidentally visited an actual city. And we wouldn't want that, would we?
After struggling during its first 13 months of life, Alligator Alley in Sunrise is shaping up to become the latest victim of our growing economic downturn. Shows scheduled at the strip-mall music venue have been moved to various locations, such as a January 12 date with Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater that ended up at Tobacco Road and a February 2 date with Roomful of Blues that'll be held at the Downtowner saloon. Carl "Kilmo" Pacillo announced his resignation as manager effective January 11. "I don't really know what's going to happen," Pacillo told Bandwidth. In a faxed statement, he stated, "I was working 80 to 100 hours a week with no pay.... Many great local musicians performed for deeply discounted prices. We were still understaffed. Service and the ability to grow were suffering. I feel it's just better to move on to other projects." Pacillo said he's fielding investor offers to keep Alligator Alley going, either at its current location or in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
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Sucks to be us (again): One of America's best roots-rock outfits is touring extensively in Florida, yet conspicuously leaving Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties bereft of love. The Waco Brothers (featuring Jon Langford of the Mekons) hail from Chicago; their recent Electric Waco Chair album sizzles with songs like the crackling Caribbean drama "Jamaican Radio Obituary." Mekons alum and Langford's significant other, Sally Timms, is opening for the wild bunch. Their new husband-and-wife release, Songs of False Hope and High Values, contains a slew of teary-eyed originals, a Dolly Parton cover, and the Parrothead-friendly lilt of Eric Von Schmidt's "Joshua Gone Barbados." Sally Timms and the Waco Brothers visited Orlando and Tampa last week and even played a show down at the Green Parrot in Key West -- but no point in between. Harrumph.
From the dull backwater of Coral Springs, local pop-punk legend New Found Glory has parlayed its impressive fan base into big-time success: a contract with Drive Thru/MCA Records and a brand-new, big-label offering. You can come taste the band (and hear new songs from its eponymous debut album) 7 p.m. Friday, January 19, at North Community Park (5601 Coral Springs Dr.) in the band's hometown. The show is a benefit for the Broward/Gold Coast Down Syndrome Association.