Back in 1995 Fort Lauderdale hardcore act Puya was mixing blazing speed metal, Latin rhythms, and Spanish-language lyrics into a powerfully potent concoction. That formula won the band fans throughout the state, a slew of local awards, and by 1998, a major-label deal with MCA. Now Nonpoint, a West Palm Beach outfit with a similar musical agenda, is following Puya's leaden footsteps, becoming the newest addition to the MCA roster and the newest South Florida act to go national. Nonpoint made the official announcement March 3 at the Culture Room.
"It's definitely overwhelming," drummer Robb Rivera told Bandwidth last week. "It really hasn't hit us yet, to be very honest."
MCA is making a tentative foray into the world of metal with Nonpoint, Puya, and Methods of Mayhem, the new project fronted by ex-Mötley Crüe drummer and all-around trouble boy Tommy Lee.
"It feels like we're loose in a toy store," Rivera continued. "It's scary, though, because we've never been in a position like this. The only labels we've been involved with before were little local ones."
Timing was the key to Nonpoint's success, said Rivera, and he predicts good fortune is soon to visit other hard-edged bands in the area. "Heavier music like ours is now accepted by the mainstream. Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Rage Against the Machine have opened all these doors. I'm hoping we can build this into another Seattle or New York City or L.A.," he added. "Hopefully Florida will be next in line."
Is there an echo in here? This kind of statement is making the rounds lately.
The band will film a video at Fort Lauderdale's FU*BAR, a venue where the unit has enjoyed much of its performance-refining experience. The 8 p.m. show on May 20 is free.
Nonpoint isn't the only local band getting lucky with record labels lately. Pompano Beach math-rock outfit Further Seems Forever was picked up by Tooth and Nail, a large Seattle indie imprint, about the same time Nonpoint inked its deal.
Out and about: Saturday, April 15, was a wet, rainy night at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. Skylights were leaking so badly that buckets were needed, and several booths were uninhabitable. It wasn't the perfect arrangement for Kelley Whiter, a Hollywood attorney who runs Lack of Sleep records. Attendance at her label's Saturday-night record-release party for two area bands, Bolting, Like Michael and Legends of Rodeo, probably suffered a bit from the downpour. The party introduced Lack of Sleep's first release, a red-vinyl single featuring Bolting, Like Michael's catchy "Kurt Russell Font" and Legends of Rodeo's ballad "This Electricity."
"There was nothing I could do except cross my fingers and hope for the best," Whiter told Bandwidth a few evenings later, adding that about 100 folks did straggle in. "I'm not going to think of it as a disaster or anything, though I definitely spent more on the party than I took in."
Legends of Rodeo was a welcome discovery, and their short, passionate set was among the best local music Bandwidth has experienced. Bolting, Like Michael suffered because of singer James Austin's head cold, which provided his already raw vocals an even grimier edge.
Whiter didn't move many copies of the single Saturday night, though she came stocked with 300. "I only sold eight!" she chuckled. "I'm laughing because the night before I stayed awake until three in the morning stuffing the records in the jackets." The split seven-inch is available at Peaches, Uncle Sam's, and at www.lackofsleep.com.
No water stain was evident the following evening at West Palm's Kravis Center for a solo performance from pianist-composer Philip Glass. However, a minor but annoying sound glitch marred the show. Somewhere on stage a stray piece of metal vibrated with the unamplified piano, producing an annoying tone like the chirp of an electronic cricket. Many of the Kravis' well-heeled patrons (mostly season ticket holders who didn't appear to have a clue what the minimalist master was all about) were equally annoying, with innumerable coughs, throat-clearings, crinkling cellophane, supposedly secret conversations, and the like. But Glass didn't complain; in fact he even cupped his hand and let out a cough or two of his own. His 90-minute performance was made up of short etudes and solo pieces dating back to 1976, all cut from the same cloth; his rapid formations of trebly triplets began to sound similar before long, like hearing the same waterfall spray from different angles. The exception was the set's closer, "The Thin Blue Line," with a spacious, cinematic feel.
Coughing went unnoticed during the live debut of Betsy Ross at the Culture Room on Monday, April 17. The fledgling industrial/rap/ metal outfit reinvents the sledgehammer attack of area legends Radiobaghdad and Collapsing Lungs (guitarist Pete Gross and drummer Chris Goldbach were involved with both projects) while adding a new flavor to the brew -- the rap skills of the band's 16-year-old namesake. The 20-minute set was hallmarked by the Betsy Ross theme song, which is introduced by a whammy-bar rip on The Star Spangled Banner. A nice touch: Before the first song had ended, Ms. Ross checked her pager at least twice. The five-piece could have used a bit more fermentation and seasoning before playing live; for sure they could have done without the Jailbait Twins -- or whatever they're called -- whose gyrating wasn't necessary. Moreover, the gimmick didn't do much to forward Ms. Ross' "hard female-empowerment stance." Still, there's something promising in Betsy Ross' street-urchin-meets-jaded-rock-musicians-twice-her-age vibe that will warrant further investigation in the months to come.
At the Chili Pepper (200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) on Saturday, April 29, check out Indiefest 2000, an all-day showcase devoted to finding new fans for unknown local rock bands. Scheduled to appear are 40 different groups, including Idol Minds, Bum Ruckus, Hate Crime, and Scatch on the Rocks. The fun begins around noon and wraps up by 10 p.m. And on Tuesday, May 2, some twang-happy rockabilly drops in on Fort Lauderdale's FU*BAR, located at 909 E. Cypress Creek. The Road Kings are a hot rod trio from Texas, and their self-titled debut on Surfdog Records pulls together a revved-up Stray Cats vibe with plenty of bluesy swagger to boot. Tunes like "Are You Gonna Get Real" and "Hot Wired" are fine dance-inducers. Slip and the Creepers open, and the 9 p.m. show costs just $7.
Contact Jeff Stratton at his e-mail address:
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