Fort Lauderdale has, historically speaking, never been a city to turn down a free drink nor opportunity to ogle scantily clad ladies. So, when we first caught wind of an event at Revolution Live sponsored by Sailor Jerry rum and Inked Magazine, we assumed it would be swarmed with inked women and raining high-proof liquor from the sky come Friday night. However, we're not meteorologists, we're bloggers. And we were wrong. So very, very wrong.
There are two sides to this coin of disappointment. On the one side, the "probable" side, we note that even big companies are capable of majorly dropping the ball in terms of event promotion. On the other side, maybe the appeal of getting completely trashed and showing off a pelt of ink to earn a potential spot in a glossy calendar -- certainly destined for the inside of locker doors and the walls of fabrication shops -- is something lost on South Florida's ladies. The argument for the latter is a weak one, as anyone who has spent more than a few seconds on SW Third Street on any given Friday night will attest.
Revolution Live was decked out in a way that could only be described as a weathered tattoo flash nightmare. Just about everywhere you looked was another reminder of who had sponsored the evening, and every bit of kitsch was clearly visible in the sparsely populated club. Hula girls everywhere, walls of tattoo flash, the floor that normally houses the moshing masses was the background for a projected Sailor Jerry logo, and the people that did manage to make it out for the open bar all tugged away on black cups with Sailor Jerry Rum logos upon them. Where the bands would normally set up a merch table, one could find a smattering of Sailor Jerry lifestyle products, such as T-shirts, and other vintage style knick knacks.
As people nursed their free Sailor Jerry Rum beverages, a photographer shot photos of the occasional tattooed young lady, though there was never a line. Representatives of the company (obviously a heavily tattooed young lady) offered patrons samples of "Sailor Jerry Cherries" as a mixed bag of music played over the sound system. The cherries were left to soak in the rum for a good two months, and by most accounts, this was a bad idea.
Right when we thought the night was going to be a complete bust, a glimmer of hope made its way to the stage. The duo known as the Riot Act took their places and proceeded to make the nearly empty club feel like it was filled from wall to wall. As guitarist and singer Christian Clarke banged on anyone of the three vintage guitars he had on stage with him, drummer Sean Chesal hammered away at his drums. The two produced a sound that was pure rock 'n' roll.
A lot of bands are easily subdued by small crowds, and they play like it. The Riot Act rose to the occasion in a way that sorts them above many of their contemporaries. Clarke bent notes, crunched out chords, and commanded the stage like it was his property, singing all the while. The confidence the band exuded went a long way in making their '50s inspired rock sound convincing, and though they have a foot in the past, the sounds are far from the revivalist poseur fodder one might expect from a band of their ilk. If there is anything we were left wanting for, it would be more members on stage to fill out the sound a bit, but mostly to give Clarke the freedom to be a frontman that is less concerned with keeping the wheels from falling off and more focused on doing what he already does very well: Riling up a crowd.
Following The Riot Act, the Gun Hoes took the stage. Initially, the band's bassist was missing in action, and they played through a song without her, somewhat unceremoniously. She appeared on stage, unfortunately missing her bass strap and forced to stay seated for the set. The band played with energy, and the California-via-FTL garage sound they produced fit the bill quite well, though it was apparent that they weren't too excited to be following the Riot Act nor playing to a room so large and empty.
All things being what they are, the Gun Hoes' mix of surf riffs and abandoned yelling was still very much a highlight of the night, especially in comparison to what the rest of the event had to offer.
In a perfect world, the weak turn out would be indicative of a counter-culture that feels infiltrated by the corporate exploitation perpetrated by companies like Sailor Jerry Rum. However, in a world where just about everyone knows that girl that thinks she's a breathing Vargas painting, it's far more likely that the word didn't spread wide enough, and while we're certain those that showed up enjoyed complimentary hangovers and a night of great rock 'n' roll, we highly doubt a calendar girl was sourced in South Florida on Friday.
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