Death to the Sun III
With Guy Harvey, Dino Filipe, Kenny Millions, Rat Bastard, Meat, 90s Teen, Holly Hunt, the Dewars, Universal Expansion, Jellyfish Brothers, Luma Junger, Vast Fang, Möthersky, Rainforest Wives, Honey Train, This Heart Electric & many more.
The Snooze Theatre, Lake Park
Saturday, September 24, 2011
View the 40-photo slideshow here.
Better than: Pouring an entire can of peas over your body.
The third Death to the Sun musical extravaganza was a shining testament to the truism that our brightest star will go down -- but not quietly. No fucking way. Between 7 p.m. Saturday evening, and 3 a.m. Sunday morning, more than two dozen acts battled through a marathon night of out-of-pocket sounds that ranged from the scuzziest punk, the sludgiest metal, the darkest waves, some of the area's brightest young avant artists, and a couple tortured old codgers in Kenny Millions and Rat Bastard. The sun died Saturday night, all right, but not without giving those who braved the whole evening a couple of puffy eyes and shattered eardrums.
Organized by Miami's mustachioed Ricardo Guerrero, the principal member
of This Heart Electric, the third edition of this endless end of summer
from Miami to the sleepy Palm Beach community of Lake Park this time
around. Whatever the American Legion and Bar provided in centrality for
the first two years of Death to the Sun was eclipsed (zing!) by the
hospitality and one-minded approach of the Snooze Theatre.
action was divided between three stages -- really four, if you count the
entertaining clump of tattoed smokers and properly coiffed socializers
gathered at the entrance -- in the Snooze's complex. In the main
performance space, acts rotated between the usual tinsel-decorated stage
and an auxiliary spot set up on the floor. A smaller, brightly painted
room (Snooze Jr.?) provided a steamy, tight spot to ensure that music
ran continuously all night long.
The Jr. room was at its
overflowing height for the devastating blasts of Miami duo Holly Hunt.
Guitarist Gavin Perry is as tall as his beard is thick, and the
jet-engine force of his guitar is the only thing more imposing. With one
of the night's frequent cheerleaders Beatriz Monteavaro joyously
hammering solar flares out of her kit, the crowd erupted in a few of the
only mosh-level interactions of the night.
Contrast that with Guerrero, donning a Velvet Underground White Light/White Heat
sleeveless tee, kicking off the night on the side stage with himself
and vigorous Dino Filipe (on a mini drumkit) performing acoustic punk
gems like "Sunrise Blvd." Even without a deafening approach --
especially with the sun only freshly extinguished -- Guerrero's
intensity carried through the life of the night. Filipe, who is one of Miami's most prolific experimental musicians, stirred up the crowd with some playful shoves during his own set of trippy karaoke with a pre-recorded backing track and Guererro on drums later in the night. The chemistry between these fellas is aparent.
In a surprising twist, there were two duos featuring brothers who looked very similar -- if not identical -- in Wellington folk outfit the Dewars and surf rockers from Miami, the Jellyfish Brothers. The former featured Zachary and Anthony Dewar (who said he writes some of his best songs on the toilet) swapping vocal/guitar duties and work on the drum kit. They seemed a little more agitated than usual, and channeled it through the psychedelic passageways of "The Things You Think You Know" and other fervid jams. The round-headed Jellyfish siblings (possibly not their real last name) utilized a lovely custom yellow drum set with one of their seafaring kin on the bass drum, and hopped through a bit of bluesy, fuzzy reverie to treat the incurable summertime blues.
The night's most raucous noise emerged while Miami's Rat Bastard flailed and painfully squeezed a jagged wall of distortion out of his solo guitar work, and when another South Florida experimenter, Kenny Millions, stalked the stage a bit later. Right after a young artist drew an enormous penis on the wall in chalk, the ski-goggle-wearing Millions proved to be his usual pissed off self, and alternated between David Carradine-esque zen poses, kicking his instruments around and telling the audience to "eat shit." After smacking his custom guitar with a towel, he picked up a saxophone and honked it like a tortured goose. All the while, a piercing strobe light cut through the dark main room.
Moody Fort Lauderdale/Miami duo Möthersky upped the visual complexity of the night on the floor stage with a projector beaming desert arches onto their bodies, gravity-defying hair-styles, and the wall behind them. With a drum machine churning out head-bobbing beats, the contemplative drones of guitarist Richard Vergez and bassist Kelvin Mitchell brought a darkwave balance to the evening. Also in the instrumental vein, a pair of acts featuring fierce in the pocket drummer Nick Klein -- the hypnotic, slow evolving funk of Universal Expansion and the avant meandering of Rainforest Wives -- pushed the psychedelic envelope.
Generally, the constant activity of bands on the three stages and the need for intoxicating and hydrating fluids and nicotine kept this crowd in a constant flux -- but the bands were good-natured about their guests who frequently came and went. Entering amid a new performance might yield a hip-shaking vibe during the retro-rock stylings of Fort Lauderdale's Honey Train, but more intense and confrontational crowd interactions came about during the deconstructed glitter-punk of 90s Teen ("It's hot in here man, I just wish the summer would end") the loose tantrums of Meat's last show ever ("Don't fucking break up!"), and the spastic Toad Eyes ("1, 2, fuck you!").
What was wound tighter than a magnet's coil by midnight, started loosening gradually as attendees finally stopped to look at their clocks and feel their aching feet. By the time Palm Beach county's alt-rock charmers Guy Harvey ran through three songs at about 3 a.m., everyone was wiped. With guitarist Devon Nelson switched over to drums to fill in for the ill Drew Locke, their set had a looseness perfect for the stragglers to latch onto. "I didn't know you had it in you!" someone shouted. When it comes to a marathon like Death to the Sun, everyone had something unexpected in them by the end.
Adele Hampton compiled footage from the evening to create this dizzying portrait of the Death to the Sun III experience:
From the Stage: "This song's about kitties and puppies -- I love kitties and puppies," Meat's Roy Hunter.
Overheard: "That was my beer," after a can sprayed all over the crowd assembled outside.
Personal Bias: I got very caught up in Luma Junger's all-female attack, which split the atmospheric difference between more-structured Warpaint-style rock and spacey Pocahaunted melodies. See here (and check out lots of Amateur Depression's videos from the night over here):
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