It's getting hard to use words like "emerging" and "blossoming" these days when describing Fort Lauderdale's FAT Village. It's no longer a neighborhood trying to establish itself. Crowds grow larger with each monthly art walk, and its expanding nightlife scene provides many options for the rest of the days of the month too. The neighborhood has gone through puberty and come out the other side with hair in places it never imagined.
But is the hard part over or just beginning? What now for the area that has so recently discovered its first whisker?
For C&I Studios and Exposed PR, the answer was For the Love.
It does make sense. A music festival seemed like a natural fit for a neighborhood that has become Fort Lauderdale's artistic headquarters.
The inaugural music fest launched this past Saturday featured more than 30 live acts, most of them local. The event was an all day affair, starting at noon and continuing till midnight. NW First Ave. was closed off for the day, allowing attendees to romp around in the street. Funky Buddha and sponsors Blue Nun Wines and Naked Turtle provided the alcohol for the evening.
Dozens of musicians occupied three stages. One was located inside C&I Studios while the main stage sat across the street in the C&I outdoor space called the Garden. A third was set up in the middle of the street. The bathroom was really the only place one could go without seeing someone strum a guitar.
Attendance peaked around 9 p.m., when the headliners started going on. But it never reached an uncomfortable capacity and right up until the final song, it wasn't difficult to make your way to the front of the stage.
The whole event was quite ambitious. 30 live acts and a 12-hour festival is a hell of an event to throw, especially considering it was the first time they tried this. It's kind of like a teen showing up to his first date with a bouquet of condoms. You've got to respect the confidence.
Was it too ambitious? Maybe. But it's hard to find the fault in that. After all, if it weren't for ambition, Neil Armstrong would have taken one look through a telescope, shrugged, and said, "Good enough." And live, local music in Fort Lauderdale is never a bad thing. Unless, like, it's a Nazi fundraising event or something. (We can say with 99.9% certainty that no Nazis benefited from For the Love.)
The day's music was everything a music-lover could want. It was loud everywhere you turned. As day switched to night, the crowds thickened inside C&I to watch Corey James Bost deliver a set that was simultaneously polished and raw. Bost harmonized on stage with his sister, Sara, over crashing guitar solos. The two were adorable and talented. What have you and your family done lately?
Over on the main stage, the Fort Lauderdale band Kids played a sugar-rush of a set that had the crowd bouncing up and down like squirrels. Kids recently released their newest album Rich Coast, along with a music video for their single "Second Star on the Right." Kids, perhaps more so than any band at For the Love, looked the part. And that's not by accident. The band has been perfecting their style and sound over the last few years, even renting a cabin in the woods to isolate themselves while they wrote songs.
Kids is ready for its big break, and after watching the band on stage, it's easy to imagine the four getting it.
The love did however briefly turn to hate in the middle of Kids' set when a fight broke out near the back of the crowd. Once the song ended, a band member told the kid in the beanie to calm down and stop punching people, and everyone went back to enjoying themselves.
The recently reunited Copeland closed the show. By that time, the dispersed crowd was concentrated, and everyone came together to watch the pride of Lakeland. Copeland delivered a set that didn't disappoint. In fact, every musician at For the Love delivered. Not only that, they all seemed very happy to be a part of the event.
There was a palpable sense of gratitude amongst the bands -- most of them hard-working touring acts, honest-to-goodness musicians who are used to opening shows rather than having one all to themselves.
"Thank you for coming to see a bunch of bands you never heard of," singer Joshua Diaz told the crowd during Kids' set.
It was funny (and true), but if C&I Studios and Exposed PR keep doing what they've been doing for local music, when For the Love 2016 rolls around, you'll see a lot of the same bands -- but you will have heard of them.