Better than: Driving to Gainesville to watch the same bands and remember none of it.
"Everyone's a punk in October."
For those that don't understand the reference, it points a rather crotchety finger at the droves that flock from around the state to Gainesville around Halloween every year to take in a weekend of punk-rock and to ensure that the shareholders of the Pabst Beer Company enjoy a dividend as "gnarly" as the hangover most patrons of the Fest roll into November nursing. This comment (overheard in the parking lot) was fueled by sheer frustration with South Florida's absolutely embarrassing attendance at weekday shows -- even for bands that enjoy huge crowds for their performances during something like the Fest.
However, the thing about Monday night punk shows is that they trudge on -- even in the absence of a thousand kids showing up to bury their parents.
The Talent Farm's sound system was warmed up by a pair of local South Florida bands: Borrowed Time and A Run For The Coast. Both groups were of the younger persuasion and the punk-rock displayed by the pair was of the catchier variety -- dare we add the polarizing "pop" before the "punk?" Yes, that'd be appropriate here, and solidified by Borrowed Time's Jimmy Eat World cover.
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After the opening bands finished marking time and serving as a buffer for the Johnny and Jenny Come-Latelys, Silver Snakes from Los Angeles set up on the Talent Farm's carpeted floor. Silver Snakes played a set of melodic rock 'n roll that featured some distinctly '90s flavors: The group name-checks Quicksand and the Smashing Pumpkins on their Facebook page and while we caught a Deftones vibe from the set, the most important thing is that it pulled that particular sound off in spades. Ambient passages of delayed guitars built a spacey landscape that were frequently and abruptly ripped open by jutting, monolithic riffs that definitely had heads bobbing.
Following Silver Snakes -- who were definitely a sonic wild-card on this tour -- Red City Radio suited up and took to rocking the small crowd. The band is from the middle part of the country, signed to Vinnie Fiorello's label, and were plenty inebriated last night, which is perhaps a bad thing for other bands, but for band's in this particular vein of punk, a near necessity for sounding authentic.
Red City Radio met their quota of "whoa-oh-ohs," were catchy enough for the uninitiated to appreciate, and certainly gravelly enough in their unison yell-singing assault that your average Hot Water Music fan would surely have tipped his trucker hat to the Oklahomans. Definitely a band about a good time, the small crowd was treated with the same regard as any large pulsating mass of drunkards, somewhat relieving the stand-offish vibe that abates fun at smaller shows.
Finally rounding out the night were the favored pop-punk sons of Oregon, Broadway Calls. The last time the trio played in South Florida, it was a house show in the backyard of an unassuming Miami home. The pool was empty (save for some swampy water and a few dead bullfrogs), the rain fell, and everyone had a blast.
Last night's crowd enjoyed a performance by a band that played with as much as energy as ever, and even showcased a few new tracks off of an impending third full-length release -- mixed in with plenty of favorites from 2008's Oregon, of course. The trio made up for the lack of mic dives by taking requests from the crowd, and treating the moment as yet another opportunity to convince a group (regardless of size) that they are a band worth checking out again in the future. And we can't deny that they truly are.
Punk comes is so many varieties these days, it can be entirely overwhelming. And just like ordering a cheeseburger with brie and pancetta on top -- which is nice and interesting, yes -- sometimes, a proper cheeseburger done right and washed down with shitty domestic beer is exactly what the doctor ordered. Think of Broadway Calls as the perfect straight-up cheeseburger of poppy punk-rock: unfettered, catchy, and comfortable like an old pair of jeans (with honest wear, not pre-worn, you asshole).
Personal Bias: Everything's all mashed-up, man.
From the Stage: "I only brought two shirts on this tour and I'm sure as hell not going to waste on on you assholes" -- the drummer of Red City Radio as he was called out on playing shirtless by his bandmates.
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