Revolution Live
When Revolution opened its doors last September, hopes were high that the new club would break the apparent curse that doomed the building's former occupants -- the Edge, Chili Pepper, and Star Bar/Venu (the latter having shut its doors faster than you can say, "What a dumb name for a rock club!"). But Revolution gets many of its acts from Clear Channel, and if there's one thing the communications giant is good for, it's bringing in the bacon. And that it has with a bevy of big names that run the musical gamut, from hip-hop (Snoop Dogg, Mos Def) to punk (Social Distortion, New Found Glory) to funk (George Clinton) and metal (Atreyu). A year ago, many of these acts wouldn't venture south of Sound Advice Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. And if they did, they'd go straight to Miami. Sure, Revolution got off to a shaky start, canceling its Wednesday-night local shows and Friday-night Pulp event. But with plenty of star power on its roster every month (Papa Roach!), Revolution might just beat the curse of 200 W. Broward Blvd. Let's hope that if a new venue wins this category next year, it has a different address.
Yes, the band that New Times chose as Best Band to Leave Broward/Palm Beach in 2000 is one of the few bands that hasn't made New York City its new home. Though guitarist/vocalist Derek Hyde and drummer Eddie Brandt took a stab at relocating to the Big Apple, Hyde moved back home in 2001. And we can thank the rock gods for that, because this is one of the few local bands that truly knows how to rock. There ain't no shoe-gazing here, just pure entertainment. The Creepy T's balance song and shtick, whether it's Hyde's manic meltdowns or the band's catchy, B-movie-inspired tunes with amusing titles you're not likely to find on the next Franz Ferdinand album. Try "Tiger with the She-Bitch On" or "Fire Gods of the South Pacific" -- quite a bit more interesting than songs about heartbreak and cheating girlfriends. Then again, Hyde's not big on following the whole indie hipster trend; he's more likely to wear a hula skirt than denim and Converse. And while the vintage farfisa sounds of keyboardist Thomas Dementrius place the Creepy T's in garage territory, the band operates outside that genre's hipster image as well. But if you doubt the T's rock cred, check out their new gig as backing band for King Coleman, the legendary "Mashed Potato Man" himself. Indeed, the Creepy T's carry the torch of rock 'n' roll like a South Pacific fire god -- hula skirt and all.

Topnotch drumming has long been associated with jazz and blues musicians, from Buddy Rich to Gene Krupa, whose fans mostly view rock drummers as brutish rogues -- one-trick ponies who lack real musicianship. Of course, rock and metal fans don't care; they're positive that their guys are the best, whether it's Led Zeppelin's John Bonham, Rush's Neil Peart, or Metallica's Lars Ulrich. So when someone like Chris Maggio embraces both styles of drumming and succeeds, not even the most musically ignorant dipshit can deny that he's in the presence of greatness. While Maggio occasionally plays blues gigs around Fort Lauderdale, it's his stint as drummer for the hard-rocking AC Cobra that raises eyebrows and tweaks eardrums like a latter-day Keith Moon. Hearing Maggio's recordings is impressive enough, but only by watching him perform does one understand the intense kinship that can exist between man and instrument. Maggio doesn't just play his drum kit; he worships the damned thing -- and it responds accordingly.

While others just bitched about their jobs, Reece, an assistant manager at Brooks Brothers in Palm Beach Gardens, turned his workplace laments into literary gold with The Clerk's Tale. In 2003, the poem was awarded the prestigious Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for poetry, and the New Yorker ran it on the magazine's high-profile back page. But what makes him a standout are his observations of the Sunshine State from his Lantana home. In Florida Ghazals, Reece's words ooze with revulsion and fascination about this weird place we call home:

Down here, the sun clings to the earth and there is no darkness.

Down there, the silence of the sea and the silence of the swamp seep into our muscles.

Florida is a frontier built by escapees.

We electrocute men. No one's past is certain.

Florida has no memory besides the monarch butterflies who remember everything.

The sea glitters, fish disappear like keys. 0, this land of exits. This land of forgetfulness.

In the days just before the 2004 presidential election, a sense of possibility and hope still prevailed. Shortly after the opening of Fort Lauderdale's new über-club Revolution, which single-handedly resurrected downtown's rock cred, Canadian industrial powerhouse Skinny Puppy treated a packed house to a punishing audio-visual onslaught that left no doubt what political platform it advocated. Highlights of the Puppy theater of pain included singer Nivek Ogre donning a gas mask and spewing its contents (green Jell-O) on the crowd; masked doppelgängers of Bush and Cheney receiving just desserts; a man in a keyboard-cage pumping out insanely inhuman sounds; and video-screen imagery that all but equated Dubya's reign with the Third Reich. Only a week later, we were disappointed by the results of another disastrous Election Day. But our ears were still ringing.

What, you thought Marilyn Manson was going to win this one just because the band once called Broward County home? Yeah, you could argue that, in terms of current significance, Manson is more relevant than a group of retired rappers. But the key terms here are local and all time, and 2 Live Crew wins on both counts. Lead by gold-grilled front-man Luther Campbell (a.k.a., Luke Skyywalker), the Crew fought the law and kicked its stuffy, tight ass -- right here in Broward County. The group took on not only Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro but also stuck it to Florida Attorney General Jack Thompson and Judge Jose Gonzalez, who banned the Crew's album As Nasty as They Wanna Be. When the decision was overruled two years later by an appeals court (and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court), Gonzalez's efforts proved to have backfired, as 2 Live Crew ultimately sold more than 2 million copies of the album. So Manson can keep his self-promoting TV appearances and Michael Moore film cameos (and all that horrible music as well). 2 Live Crew did it first, they did it best, and they did it here.

The Music Factory? Wasn't this club once called the Metal Factory? Sure enough, after dropping the metal in 2003 (when New Times awarded it Best Turnaround in Clubland), the Factory added the more open-ended music to its name a year later -- just to ensure no one confuses it with some low-rent Hessian hangout. But the Music Factory is more than a venue to occupy aspiring emo bands waiting for Vagrant Records to pick them up. 2004 saw the club reeling in plenty of international punk and ska acts, from long-time staples of the underground (the Subhumans, the Bouncing Souls) to local faves (Against All Authority, the Agency) and even a piercing-studded cabaret show (the Suicide Girls Burlesque Tour). Oh, and don't be fooled by the naked chick on the Music Factory's website or the ads for "Sexy Ladies Night" on Wednesdays; the club hasn't gone all Coyote Ugly on us. It's still a rock club, and that includes the occasional metal band. What other venue would bring to town a Guns N' Roses tribute band like Ohio's Paradise City? It's about the music, man... and the mullet. Yes, you can have it all.

It takes more than silver-plated pipes or a bloodcurdling scream to really soar as a rock singer. If you're going to make your listeners feel anything deeper than horny or pissed-off, you gotta have a sense of subtlety and a range of vocal expression. Listen to El's self-titled 2004 release and you'll hear vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Clark stagger through longing, float with elation, and simmer in regret, all while maintaining a sense of earnest vulnerability that helps make this Lake Worth band one of South Florida's best. Growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, gave Clark a unique inflection and worldly musical sense that comes through in the band's sophisticated yet simple songwriting. The trio is currently working on a new album that will combine Clark's Latin leanings with European influences like the Cardigans, U2, and Radiohead. With Clark at the helm, you can be sure the music will take you places.

No petulant, open-mic warbler or girly pop tart, the Remnants' smoldering soulstress, Cynthia Duvall, is, ironically, responsible for a major part of the Broward quartet's balls-out attitude. Think of Duvall as the ass-kicking, sass-spewing, rock-star love child Janis and Iggy never had. With one of the hardest-working bands in South Florida, she, along with the rest of the Remnants (guitarist Jim Potts, bassist Dominic Siriani, and drummer Russ Moore), has rattled windows in venues from West Palm to Weston and left crowds panting with rock 'n' roll fever in her wake. Warning: The Remnants are not a subtle band. Check out Duvall on the band's six-song EP or, better yet, catch her belting it out live. You'll be glad you did, if you make it home in one piece.

Schmidt Center Gallery at FAU
With commercial art galleries dropping like flies, it's no wonder that pooh-poohing the cultural scene is a favorite South Florida pastime. It's hard to keep the faith when the new gallery you've just heard about has closed by the time you get across town to see it. And so, increasingly we look to noncommercial outlets for alternatives. Lately, the Schmidt Center Gallery at FAU has proved up to the challenge. The 2003-04 season's "Corporal: Contemporary Women Artists from Latin America" was an encouraging sign -- an eclectic group exhibition that wasn't afraid to be a little pushy. And this season's two group shows so far have delivered on that promise. "Me, Myself & I" was simultaneously tightly focused and expansive with its invitation to 30 international artists to revisit (and rejuvenate) self-portraiture. And "south X east: Contemporary Southeastern Art" was a lively, more in-depth survey of works by a dozen artists from seven states. If shows like this can't pique your interest, maybe you should check your pulse.

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