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Hearing Voices

A pretty wimpy Friday-night downpour was enough to keep a crowd away from the Holy Terrors reunion show at Churchill's Hideaway in Miami's Little Haiti on September 13. Even Miamians stayed home. It's a well-accepted fact that Broward Countians hate driving to the big city and enduring the Interstate of Death on the way home, but the truth is that Churchill's doesn't feel like a full-on Miami journey. It feels a lot shorter. Just head south past the Dairy and the Opa and the Locka. Slip into that HOV lane on your left and levitate above the highway on the bridge until the skyline looms in the distance. Drop back down to earth, keep your eyes peeled for lane-changing idiots, and exit on NE 62nd Street. Take 62nd about a mile (if that) east, hang a right on NE Second Avenue, avoid the roaming packs of feral dogs, and Churchill's is about six blocks south on your left. Park behind the well-lighted Walgreens, slip a crumpled-up dollar bill to the nice man, and get your dive on. The rain actually makes the neon look nicer once you're drunk.

Someone must have been drunk -- it's still hard to believe that a decent-sized crowd watched Rat Bastard perform a set of legitimate music with a few of his Laundry Room Squelchers. Spin could hardly have labeled this Bastardization "the worst band in America." That's because the sheet Rat was clutching was full of Robert Pollard lyrics. The hardest-core Guided by Voices fan in South Florida performed a set of Pollard solo tunes for what was possibly his most ear-pleasing assault on Churchill's ever. Word has it that the Squelchers will take the stage at the Factory for a ten-minute freak-out prior to Guided by Voices' first show south of Tampa, on October 22. Look for a Pollard interview in these pages soon.

Most of the time, it feels as if Broward County is on the national radar screen for all the wrong reasons. It still seems surreal to watch Dashboard Confessional and New Found Glory on the telly. You'd think the members of Pompano Beach-based Further Seems Forever would be guzzling straight from the Brita pitcher right about now, hoping there's something in the tap water making our homegrown rock bands more tasty to talent scouts. Further bassist Chad Neptune, however, says no. "The actual scene is really sorta weak," he says in a slow slacker/stoner drawl. "I think it's because the people who stick to writing songs and practicing are getting better."

Which is exactly what Further Seems Forever has been doing in the two years since singer Chris Carrabba left the band to find his paradise by the Dashboard lights. "I'm happy for him," Neptune says. "It'd be worse if he left the band and then didn't accomplish anything."

But now, Further Seems Forever, by virtue of some long-time Broward connections, is poised for a bigus breakus: a two-month, 42-city tour of big clubs and small arenas with Coral Springs superfriends New Found Glory. To give an idea of how extensive the jaunt is, the pairing starts this weekend but it won't be until November 13 that the two bands roll into town for a homecoming bash at the Coral Springs Sportsplex. But Further Seems Forever, who's played more than 200 concerts in the past 12 months anyway, is unfazed. "It's weird to be on the road so much," Neptune says, "but then it's weird to be home too. It's always weird. You can quote me on that."

The names, they are a-changin'. The best change of all went down at the 16,000-seat venue west of the airport in Palm Beach County. The big shed in the middle of the fairgrounds out there recently ditched its corporate-sponsored handle and went back to plain old Coral Sky Amphitheatre. I never was bothered by the old name, MARS Music Amphitheatre, because I told myself it was named after a candy bar. But Coral Sky rules. It sounds natural.

A second rechristening is taking place in beautiful Sunrise. The monolithic yet silly National Car Rental Center name never really rubbed me wrong either, offset as it was by the center's two-tone sea-green color scheme, which is so soothingly awesome. No data are available on how many individuals believed NCRC was a location for renting automobiles, but it's fun to envision a clueless couple returning their rented Escort to the massive parking lot in the middle of the Anger Management Tour stop.

Will NCRC's replacement, the Office Depot Center, spoil the vibe with a garish, excruciatingly un-rock 'n' roll red-and-white color scheme? The Office Depot Center is an offensive, bogus handle. Where will it end? Not until we have the Playtex Disposable Center. The Tucks Medicated Pads Arena. God help us all.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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