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Mad props are in order for the young South Florida bands that have hooked up with some high-profile gigs this summer. First and foremost, congratulations to Coral Springs can't-do-wrong lads New Found Glory. The sing-along punk-pop unit is still touring the country's summer shed circuit with Blink-182, which brought the kids home to MARS Music Amphitheatre on August 2 for a rather dreary, drizzly evening. But imagining a more exciting time for the quintet is difficult: Our boys played the most massive venue on their own home turf with the only group from Total Request Live capable of playing real instruments or writing a real song. If New Found's glory ended today, it would go out on top. The group is hitched to Blink-182 for the foreseeable future, in the States through mid-September and then on to 15 European dates the following month.

In contrast the weather was nothing but nice (hot but breezy) for the July 28 Warped Tour date at MARS, where Broward County's own Rocking Horse Winner played a well-received set on a tertiary stage. Although it isn't easy to picture the band's pretty, pastel-hued material connecting with the rowdy kids on hand to commiserate with Pennywise and Jimmy Eat World, it evidently did just that. Even the Sun-Sentinel was moved enough by the Horsies' delicate songs to pen a glowing tribute that made the group sound as if it had been the very epicenter of the festival. Rocking Horse Winner and Delray Beach's Pank Shovel also made it across the state that week to fill out Warped's waistline in both Tampa and Orlando.

More favorable weather approaches on the live-music horizon: the legendary Hallandale Beach club the Button South is reopening under the name The Set. The 15,000-square-foot venue reopens Friday, August 24, with appearances from local fixtures including Sixo and Humbert. "We're still looking for a headliner," says promoter Jim Hayward, who, along with associate Grant Hall, will book shows at The Set. The club's initial offerings may well remind patrons of the Button South's head-banging salad days, which Hayward says is precisely the idea.

"We'll be leaning toward hard rock in the beginning because that's the legacy of the club, and a lot of people who come early on will remember the old days," he explains. "So we want to please them. The bread and butter will have to be mainstream rock to keep a club of that size afloat, but we hope to have enough success with that to allow us to be adventurous on the off nights." Those olden days (from the mid-'80s to mid-'90s) saw visits from Iron Maiden, Metallica, Motörhead, Pantera, and Poison.

But Hall wants to make it clear that the room will not cater solely to metal heads. "We don't want to be aligned with that exclusively," he says. "We won't exclude that genre, but we want to encompass everything we can."

Hayward agrees. "But first we really have to go after the Zeta people," he continues, referring to the listenership of WZTA-FM (94.9), otherwise known as Those About to Rock. "We've got to get them in there buying drinks. They pay the bills."

And some big bills are sure to be associated with reopening the 2000-person-capacity club, including a new state-of-the-art sound-and-light system. That's why weekend nights will be played safely at first -- not with cover bands but with that ubiquitous pissed-off-white-boy radio fodder we've all come to know and, uh, tolerate.

"On Fridays and Saturdays, we have to cater to the working-class people who go out and want straightforward rock 'n' roll, but even within that framework, we're going to give them a little bit of variety," Hayward promises. "We'll even have early Friday and Saturday shows that cater to more niche tastes. We're looking at ways to have a small show and not take a bath financially."

All of this is bound to be music to the ears of Broward and Miami-Dade music fans who have either had to contend with weak venues like Fort Lauderdale's laughable Metal Factory or had to make those long-ass hauls to Orbit or Respectable Street -- or even to Orlando, Gainesville, or Tampa. Whether or not The Set can recapture the glamalicious heyday of the Button South (where local acts such as Marilyn Manson, Nonpoint, and New Found Glory chomped on dangling major-label carrots) remains to be seen. But in a music-venue climate nearly as stifling as our weather, a spanking-new centrally located club can't be anything but a good omen.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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