Bruise Cruise Kickoff Party at Grand Central, February 24

On the waterfront: Cruise Director Ian Svenonius.
Beryl Fine

Bad news, lazy hipsters: The inaugural Bruise Cruise is sold out. You literally missed the boat.

Departing this Friday from the Port of Miami and stopping over for some nefarious Saturday action on the former pirate paradise of Nassau, Bahamas, this floating music festival will take place aboard the Carnival Imagination, a 70,000-ton fantasy-class cruise ship equipped with a nine-hole mini-golf course, water park, resort-style pool, hot tubs, palm trees, card rooms, and a 24-hour self-serve sundae bar. There's even an exclusive kids-free zone called the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, which just sounds like an open-air sex deck.

It all appears to be a pretty standard family cruise package until you take a long look at the band lineup. Stacked with raucous garage punks, heavily distorted indie-poppers, and skuzzy psychonauts, the fest's roster is an act of aggressive aural terrorism, especially in an environment where entertainment typically means either a Barry Manilow impersonator or a cut-rate magic act.


Bruise Cruise Kickoff Party, with the Black Lips, Vivian Girls, Surfer Blood, Strange Boys, Thee Oh Sees, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Ty Segall, Turbo Fruits, and Jacuzzi Boys. 6 p.m. Thursday, February 24, at Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $20 via Ages 18 and up. Click here.

At the top of the Bruise Cruise bill, you've got Atlanta rock demons the Black Lips, a foursome whose stage antics have often included dude-on-dude tongue kissing, public urination, and indecent exposure. And then just below, there's master of ceremonies Ian Svenonius, West Palm's own prize pigs Surfer Blood, Brooklyn's Vivian Girls, rumble-y San Fran band Thee Oh Sees, Austin twang mongers Strange Boys, crackling Orange County act Ty Segall, New Orleans' Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Nashville riffers Turbo Fruits, Miami crew Jacuzzi Boys, and dance deviant DJ Mr. Jonathan Toubin.

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"I think it's kinda ironic," says Turbo Fruits guitarist and Bruise Cruise cofounder Jonas Stein. "A lot of these bands started their careers playing dingy, dirty basements. That's where the fans heard this music for the first time. And now all of a sudden the bands and the fans are getting to go on some exotic vacation together."

That said, Stein's buddy and business partner Michelle Cable, the head of New York City booking agency Panache, adds: "I think we're also proving a point that people are interested in cruises. They're just afraid to admit it. And the garage rock scene gets pigeonholed as only punk basements. There's this impression that people don't really care about having a comfortable experience. But I feel like there are garage rockers who've gotten a little bit older. And they still wanna experience the music. But they also wanna have certain amenities at their disposal.

"The Bruise Cruise is a way to go see a band," she says. "But also, hang out in a hot tub or go lounge by the pool or just chill under a palm tree. You can enjoy the crazy show and then escape by doing something ridiculously vacationesque."

Relaxation will probably be the last thing on the average attendee's itinerary, though. With only 72 hours to get one's $400 fill of booze, food, and tuneage, there'll be absolutely no time for foot massages and transcendental meditation.

Now for those aforementioned lazy hipsters who failed to reserve a comfy Carnival Imagination cabin and earn certified Bruiser status, you're not entirely screwed. You can still get a taste of this hectically cool music experience with Thursday's Bruise Cruise Kickoff Party at Grand Central. In fact, according to Cable, the kickoff's guaranteed to be a satisfactory substitute: "You know, we're only bringing 400 people on this thing. But the number who want to go is way higher. So I feel as though a lot of people are kinda like, 'I can't go on the cruise. But I wanna have some affiliation with it.' So those people can go to the pre-party, which is the exact same lineup but on land."

Of course, you won't need to pack an entire bag for this shorter trip. But you should still bring an extra pair of underwear. Who knows when things might get messy?

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