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Fireworks Play the Talent Farm; Still Banned from Culture Room

By Emily Bloch

Some things are inevitable at a good rock show. Someone will try to get in for free, someone will get kicked in the face by a crowd surfer, and someone's going to stage-dive.

But not if Culture Room has anything to say about it.

In August 2009, Michigan pop-punk band Fireworks performed at Culture Room as a supporting act on the Gig Life tour, featuring Polar Bear Club and Set Your Goals. Fireworks went on second. "[The crowd] instantly set it off," recalls J.R. Cedeno, who was in the crowd and 17 at the time. "I remember a kid got kicked out for stage-diving, and the band wasn't having it."

That's when Fireworks told everyone to bum-rush the stage.

"Security had just taken a couple of kids out for stage diving," said Marc Sorrentino, another audience member, who was 16 when the show took place. "Dave [Mackinder, the lead singer] got on the mic and said 'There's more of you than there are of them.'" That's when Mackinder invited the entire crowd onstage for the band's next song.

"Next thing you know, a ton of people start climbing heads, trying to make their way to the stage." Within the next minute, Culture Room pulled the plug.

"For the protection of the band's fans, venue staff, and equipment, the Culture Room house policy does not permit the audience to come on stage," the venue's owner, Greg Aliferis, confirmed in an email.

Five years later, Fireworks is on another tour -- the North American leg of the Wonder Years' the Greatest Generation World Tour. The South Florida stop is Sunday, April 6, and is set to take place at the Culture Room... Well, five-sixths of it is.

Turns out Culture Room is sticking to its guns, and after that show, Fireworks are still banned from the venue.

"We were definitely taken by surprise," Mackinder said in a phone interview. "Because it was like 'really?' That was five years ago. It's amazing that they remember the situation so vividly. We've never been blacklisted from a venue before. It's unfortunate because it neglects kids that wanted to come to that package."

But to not play at all would be too easy. That's when the band reached out to South Florida booking agent John McHale and the owner of Pembroke Pines venue the Talent Farm, Kevin Burns.

"We definitely didn't want to neglect South Florida," said Mackinder. "Their shows have always been so good to us, and it's always had a pretty nostalgic place in our hearts. We swung the idea of our own show by John and then we heard Talent Farm and thought it would be sweet."

Burns agreed, "I thought since Fireworks is on the same touring package, it was unfortunate that they'd have that down time while the Wonder Years are playing the Culture Room." Now with a venue happy to host them, the show will go on for Fireworks -- just at a different venue and time.

On Sunday, April 6, fans will be able to catch one show at the Talent Farm starting at 1:30 p.m. featuring Fireworks, and then head over to the Culture Room afterward for the Wonder Years, Defeater, Citizen, Real Friends, and Modern Baseball. The drive from the Talent Farm in Pembroke Pines to Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale takes 30 to 40 minutes. "Making it a matinee allows for fans of all the bands to see both shows," said Burns of the early start time. The Talent Farm show will feature locals acts Featherweight and Guilty Conscience and an acoustic set from Philadelphia indie-rock band Hop Along.

As for any regrets? "I think generally speaking, any mentality we had five years ago, given any X venue in America, seeing that situation going down, we would still call it out. I wouldn't change anything," said Mackinder. "We like the people in South Florida, and we like the people that run Talent Farm. We're definitely welcoming this show with open arms because the other option was to have an off day and feel bummed for the people that wouldn't get to see our band."

Fireworks with Hop Along, Featherweight, and Guilty Conscience, 1:30 p.m., Sunday, April 6, at the Talent Farm, 20911 Johnson St., #111, Pembroke Pines. Tickets $12 at the door and $15 in advance. The Greatest Generation Tour with the Wonder Years, Defeater, Citizen, Real Friends, and Modern Baseball, 6 p.m., Sunday, April 6, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.Tickets cost $16 plus service fee.

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Emily Bloch

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