Five Greatest Videos From the Talent Farm

Five Greatest Videos From the Talent Farm
Photo by Ian Witlen

We sure do miss the Talent Farm. For nearly a decade, the all-ages Pembroke Pines venue hosted shows of all sizes before closing its doors two years ago, almost to the day.

The warehouse space, which opened in 2005 and closed at the end of May 2014, hosted everyone from local unknowns to acts including Trapped Under Ice, Angel Dust, Title Fight, and more. But all artists were treated the same way by the space’s owner, Kevin Burns.

"Kevin Burns took a chance on me and gave me my first job while I was still in high school," former employee Erik Silveira remembers. "Without that job I would have never met any of my best friends, and I would have never been exposed to the different cultures of South Florida in such a positive light."

Bands who played at the all-ages venue were not only paid but treated to some pizza by Burns as well as a DVD recording of its set.

Those recordings were live-streamed across the internet for fans and family members long before Periscope was around. The remnants can still be found all over YouTube.

“I loved getting to watch the set on those DVDs to see how we sounded, how people reacted to songs, and to overall better ourselves as musicians,” Bishop guitarist Sam Kooby said. “I never minded driving out to BFE to go to a zillion shows at the Talent Farm because it was a very clean and professional environment, run by the most accommodating people on the planet.”

The Talent Farm, right in the middle of mosquito-and-swamp town, saw tons of acts hit its stage before they made it into the mainstream — like Pennsylvania-based the Wonder Years playing for a crowd of about 40 kids (it's now selling out shows internationally and peaking on Billboard charts). Or bassist Franz Lyons putting up stickers for his band, Turnstile, before it even had a demo released.

“While the list of ‘biggest acts’ exists to an extent, there was always so much more enjoyment in watching some of the ‘littlest acts,’” Burns remembers. “Newbies, cutting their teeth, first-time-on-stage jitters, awkward moments. Those are the most fond memories for me."

The space, which doubled as a recording studio, was simple and no-frills, which allowed for low overhead and cheap shows — tickets ranging from $5-$15, depending on the lineup. A lobby area with a vending machine (that people loved because it carried Yoo-hoo chocolate drink) served as a merch space. From there, showgoers walked into a room with band T-shirts and signed posters on the walls and a carpeted stage, dead center. Either side of the stage held a cozy green room with couches where undoubtedly someone had their first kiss — or their first puke-before-their-first-set.

“From the first show I ever played to some of the best and most fun shows I've played with killer lineups and my best friends, while making so many new ones, and seeing some of my favorite bands all at the same time,” bass player Frank Frisenda wrote on the venue’s Facebook page after it closed. “Nothing quite like it.”

"I still miss the Talent Farm because for me, it was where it all began," Frisenda told New Times. "In 2007 I thought it was some sort of underground cult, but I quickly realized that it was one of the biggest building blocks for what is now a massive community."

Even pop-punk band New Found Glory — who started out in Coral Springs but now fill venues and sells out cruise ships on its travels with Paramore — would go out of its way to give the space some love, playing two secret shows there. The second time around, so many people showed up, the band played two sets so everyone could see them.

“I heard it's closed down now — is that true?” New Found Glory frontman Jordan Pundik asked us months after the venue shut down. “That's a bummer. OK — that sucks.”

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Two years later, the South Florida music scene still feels the venue’s void. “I’ll always miss the Talent Farm,” Kooby said. “It was a cultural landmark for the Florida punk and hardcore scene.”

Here are five of our favorite Talent Farm sets that were lucky enough to be recorded before everyone had an iPhone 6:

1. New Found Glory's Secret Set

2. Defeater

3. Title Fight

4. Foundation

5. The Wonder Years


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