What -- you were expecting something good, something innovative to tour through South Florida? Off-the-beaten-path, interesting, unusual music is rarer than rocking-horse manure in this corner of the continent. Until the shifting tectonic plates move Broward/Palm Beach farther up the peninsula, more-fashionable fare will continue to shunt its services northward. For bus-traveling bands, getting here is a logistic nightmare, and the lack of college-radio support in our area means we miss out on some prime action.
For instance, take Negativland, the West Coast experimental crew of sound-collage terrorists in the midst of their most extensive tour to date. They performed in Clearwater last weekend; reportedly the band's request for a venue with high ceilings to accommodate its multimedia projections made a Broward/Palm Beach date difficult. Then there's the French/ Marxist fun of Stereolab, giving shows -- in Tennessee and Kentucky of all places! -- as it continues to support its 1999 album, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night. Stereolab plays Tampa and Orlando next week. What about Dutch treats the Legendary Pink Dots, with their wonderfully strange psychedelic art-rock, playing Tampa and Orlando next week as well? If you need a better idea of what weird and obscure really are, look into their body of work. Five years ago Atlanta or Athens would have been the closest these bands would have come to Florida, so maybe coolness is slowly approaching us. Meanwhile we get a SunFest with average white bands galore, headlined by the two-headed demon of Lenny Kravitz and Bryan Adams. Sucks to be us. When and if the tide finally turns, Bandwidth will rejoice, and we'll all raise a glass together in Valhalla.
Club feats: You can say "there's no drum 'n' bass in Hollywood" until you're blue in the face. Maybe some folks will even give credence to your nonsensical talk. But not for long, because word's spreading that you can now get your high-tech groove two nights a week within and near the 'burb. Sunday night is a school night, but try to grab an afternoon nap and make it down to Shenanigan's Sports Pub, 3303 Sheridan St., Hollywood. Not the prettiest spot for futuristic beats -- the sports bar and its evening denizens aren't exactly as trendy as seasoned dance veterans would expect. But the club features DJ Catalyst, who starts out slow and begins raising the ante (and the volume) after midnight. On Thursday nights Catalyst moves across town to Cool City (8358 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines), where he lays down similar structures, which also gain steam and attract small but enthusiastic crowds from midnight until about 4 a.m.
With the admonition "you betta act like you know!" Coral Springs resident Brian Renda ushers in a digitized online guessing game that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own crib. Of course you'll enjoy his brand-new www.hip-hoptrivia.com a lot more if you know your RZA from your GZA and your Aceyalone from your Lenny Corleone. The site includes sections devoted to East Coast, Dirty South, and West Coast musical camps and another portion dedicated to rappers' real names. The questions include serious stumpers and some easy queries for neophytes. What do you win? Just that feeling of personal hip-hop superiority, which you can wield with impunity. Big minus: The page takes six and a half years to load.
On May 21 at Nova Southeastern University's Central Auditorium, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens comes to town, but as you probably already know, the Cat has traded in his trademark '70s-era tunes like "Peace Train" and "Oh Very Young" in favor of the Islamic faith and a new title, Yusuf Islam. When he was quoted supporting the Islamic death sentence against Salman Rushdie in the mid 1980s, he found that his statements caused U.S. radio stations to boycott his old tunes, and 10,000 Maniacs, who had recorded their own version of "Peace Train," disowned him as well. Islam is ready to release his second record of Islamic material, A Is For Allah, later this month. He won't be performing songs new or old at Sunday's event; instead he'll give a talk outlining his conversion to Islam; his renunciation of his old, materialistic career; and his "search for the center of the universe," which evidently starts with the alphabet. Hang around after the lecture for the q and a session, and you can ask him why he traded peace, love, and understanding for religious revenge.
The time draws nigh. You must prepare for judgment day. You will want to visit Fort Lauderdale's frightening, corporate, faceless monolith National Car Rental Center to witness the frightening, corporate, faceless monolith 'NSync, performing Monday and Tuesday, May 22 and 23. Why? Because the specter of five white kids singing and dancing like that is precisely what the end of the world will look like, so you can simply consider this event a $50 fire drill for Armageddon. You know what they say -- hell is for children.
On Friday evening get crazy with Gonemad (far, far, and away Broward's hardest-working band), appearing with Lost and Daytona Beach metal purveyors Headway, at Spanky's in West Palm Beach. On Saturday Bandit hosts a CD-release party for its new disc, Unstable, at Starlite Lounge in Pompano Beach. On Tuesday the Fearless Records tour rolls into the Culture Room, featuring Bigwig, Dynamite Boy, Beefcake, and Luckie Strike. Fans of South Park will notice that Cartman often sports a Beefcake T-shirt.
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