Blast From the Past: Powerhouse Reunion at Reel and Restless
If this paragraph survives the cold and didactic hand of editing, I will speak to you the way I've always meant to speak: Honestly and candidly. And if that doesn't make for good blogging, then I'm in the wrong business.
For all the arguments one can make about South Florida being some sort of cultural asshole to the United States, I will always posit with the following: We live in exciting musical times down here and my humble Blast from the Past columns make a wholesome attempt at proving that these times have been happening for a long time, across genres and multiple cultures within our tri-county area.
Most of you (all three of you) should know by now that I've always tried to champion the contributions of the great state of Florida. Firmly entrenched in what I know best, I always play up the jazz, the punk, the homegrown hip-hop, and any other non-top 40 musicks occurring here. I also always make a point of noting how relatively young I am to this scene. But I am always happy to be involved and humbled to be a part of it.
Which leads us to today's BFTP: The almighty-motherfucking Powerhouse.
I can normally build one of these columns around intimate knowledge of a bygone release or personal friendships I've seeded over the years, but not here, given that I missed the heyday of this act. I'll go on a limb here and describe what this little 7" record means to me without getting into popular opinions and whatnot.
I do not know the actual release date for the EP, but the copy that I own (the actual bulk of this digital codex) is a second pressing by New Age Records, bearing the catalog number of 3 and a dead-groove citation of L-34770. I also know that it is a black and white, top-loading sleeve with blue text depicting some of the cheesiest "youth crew" hardcore pics ever, but therein lies the charm of this band and what it meant at the time that it was around.
But before we get into the particulars, let's talk about how I got this slab of wax. Let's talk about eBay, typos and a little phenom most people call "Cavity."
I arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed onto the South Florida music scene in the early '90s from Caracas, Venezuela filled with youthful Spanish New Wave, Ramones, a couple of Maximum Rocknroll mixtapes and a high-school scene of like-minded individuals. Keeping it short, it boiled down to the eventual reckoning of a local outfit by name of Cavity that set my musical wheels in motion.
Cavity is one of my all-time favorite bands -- a band who's five thousand revolving-door members I consider friends to this day, a band I shared a stage with, and a band I obsessively purchase the merch of. It was through Cavity that I arrived at Powerhouse. When you get into something musically, the two best things to do are, a) find out what bands the cats were in prior, and b) who their influences were. If you click on the links above you'll arrive at the latter, if you pretend to be "hard at work" for the next few digital paragraphs, you'll arrive at the former.
Artist and bass-player extraordinaire Dan Gorostiaga was the constant brain-child of Cavity and as it turned, one of his earliest skirmishes on the recorded plane was with this outfit. Once I found out about Powerhouse, it sent me into a record-collector-nerd frenzy that was only tempered by a few near-misses on eBay.
The day I was able to finally purchase this record, this second press, fourteen years after was a pyrrhic victory of sorts. You see, early on, I figured out that most eBay sellers lacked some basic spelling skills, so through a number of spelling combinations, I was able to arrive at a misspelled bid and purchase this disc for twelve dollars (shipping included) whereas I had been outbid before nearing the eighty dollar mark.
What does that mean? Basic spelling skills aside? That means Florida bands are vehemently sought out by people across the world. People get our skewed sensibility and respond to it. It also helps that this six song slab of wax has some of the most heart-felt and genuine hardcore you could ever want. I don't know about the first press, please contribute in the comments below, but this second press has a sweet fold-out lyric sheet with a nice photograph of pudgy blonde-ambition singer Ivan lording over a community center's common area in mid concert. The most exciting part of the captured image is the smiling lanky dude off to the right wearing a FWA T-shirt.
To a certain degree, I sometimes wish I was three years older and had relocated here five years earlier. This was the time of Powerhouse, of FWA, of Chocolate Grasshopper, of the Fuck Boyz, Stand Aside, Quit, Load, and many others. These were the catalysts of now! They translated the hard work of Charlie Pickett and the Eggs, the Psycho Daisies, Gay Cowboys in Bondage, the Eat, Roach Motel, Futurisk, and Screaming Sneakers.
Would we have awesome bands now like the Jacuzzi Boys, Shroud Eater, the Getback and God knows how many other Matt Preira knows about that I don't? Hell no!!!
Hats off to them who came before us! Hats off to them who sweated and got nasty at Churchill's before Dave made capital improvements on the property.
Back to the 7", which you can listen to here. On the recording, we have the awesome vocals by Ivan White, the double guitar attack of Tim Pryce and Scott Baldwin, the bass of Dan Gorostiaga, and the skins' metronome of Andrew Powell. This is hardcore like it was meant. This is straight-up 7 Seconds unity stuff with a little Gorilla Biscuits thrown in for good measure. Heavy nods to original hardcore stalwarts out of D.C. and Texas like Minor Threat and MDC.
This is real. But what's even more real is that this band reunited Sunday as part of the awesome Reel & Restless Fest featuring a bucket's full of bands I'd like to write about, but alas, here are my shortcomings dear readers... I'm currently under doctor's orders to not engage in "live music" settings due to an otic condition and I can't tell you how enormously pissed I am to have missed this. This is no way to live. Especially after I suavely finagled that sweet disc into my possession, I'm owed this, but pushing forty is apparently no laughing matter when it comes to my medical insurance.
I'll leave you with this, Sunday's lineup featured the guitar stylings of eternal teenager Tim Pryce, the psychotic rhythm section of Glenn "Roach" Larsen on drums, my pretend work-out partner Mike Mirabal on bass and the "I can see right through you" vocals of Ivan White.
Once I get healthy and win the lottery, I'd like to see a Floor-like reunion event where all past members join onstage for an evening of revelry and mosh-pitting without a care so that we can all be transported, even if momentarily, to an era of musical comradeship in South Florida, an era we still live in, but that we tend to forget.
Never forget, against all hope, let's never forget.
"Still Friends" (Tim Pryce is an awesome dude even when "unrehearsed and acoustically")
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