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Lauderhill Cries Uncle

"Today is 6/6/06 — Emo Kid Beatdown Day," said the thin, teenaged brunet to the two girls next to her. It was part of a conversation I overheard at (no shit) an emo show at Uncle Sam's Music in Lauderhill. I just had to butt in.

"Really? Is that a nationally recognized day?" I asked the girl, who said her name was Deeana.

"Oh yeah," she replied testily. "But I think every day should be Emo Kid Beatdown Day."

"Um, aren't most of these bands here kind of, you know, emo?"

"I'm here to see my friend Kyle's band."

"But he's a little on the emo side, though, isn't he?"

"Yeah, but he's cool."

"What kind of music are you into, then?"

"I like glam — Mötley Crüe."

Uh-huh. She's obviously a big fan of irony as well. Back when Mötley Crüe was all the rage, glam was the emo of the metal scene. Frizzy hair and too much makeup were the '80s equivalent of the bedhead hairdo all those emo kids sport today. Too bad I never got a chance to point this out. A minute later, Deeana stormed off, shouting to no one in particular, "Bye! Have fun with your emo!"

OK, so maybe the Uncle Sam's show wasn't emo in the traditional sense — the bands were more of the singer/songwriter variety (and wore shirts that covered their belly buttons). But it wasn't where you'd expect to find someone hatin' on the emo kids, even if it was just a disgruntled glam chick. The show was a double feature of sorts: John Ralston and imadethismistake were doing in-store performances to promote their new CDs. And both were on the eve of leaving town. But most important, it was June 6, 2006, the so-called "Day of the Beast" everyone had been yammerin' about for months. For the most part, the day came and went like Y2K — all talk, no shock. If anything was shocking, it was the fact that Ralston wasn't the big draw. Sure, there were a few dozen eager fans who came to see their man — Ralston is, after all, a part-time Dashboard Confessional member. The remainder of the woefully underaged crowd, though, were fans of the three smaller, younger bands — CTRL CTRL, Such Radiant Fiction, and imadethismistake. But Fats shouldn't have been surprised. After all, it was imadethismistake's Kylewilliam Campol, an Uncle Sam's employee, who kickstarted the in-store "Loft" shows a year and a half ago.

"The Loft has been my life since I started booking shows here," Campol said. "But tonight is my last hurrah. I'm leaving for tour tomorrow. When I get back, I'm moving to Tallahassee." Talk about wham, bam, thank you, ma'am. Ah, but it's all good — Uncle Sam's has other employees, you know.

Like the name suggests, the Loft is a cozy, upstairs space, safely removed from the merchandise below. Because of that coziness — the intimate, VH1 Storytellers-like atmosphere — I was expecting to be a bit bored. I couldn't imagine it'd be anything but a well-behaved (blech!) crowd politely applauding between songs and holding still for the rest of the performance. That feeling only got worse when I arrived to find everyone sprawled out on bean bags, a couch, and the oak wood floor. It was the same feeling I'd get as a kid when Ma and Pa Pompano dragged my ass to church every Sunday — not a good feeling to have on the Day of the Devil.

But then the music began. First, it was Ralston, backed by a full band — guitar, drums, bass, violin, keys, and even a sitar. Call me an emo wimp, but Fats was impressed. It's obvious why Vagrant Records signed Ralston — and why they're not the only ones courting him. By the time you read this, Ralston will be in California, working with Yahoo! Music and writing songs for movie soundtracks like The Sensation of Sight (starring David Strathairn of Good Night, and Good Luck). "Soundtracks are fun," Ralston said. "[The producers] send me a script of the movie and tell me which scene to write music for." That sure beats playing inside a music store.

Or does it? Coral Springs' CTRL CTRL (pronounced "Control Control") sure got a good response — the best of the night, if you ask Fats. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but all the hootin' and hollerin' don't mean squat if no one dances. And the kids — most of 'em girls — they sure as hell danced to CTRL CTRL. So much for the Storytellers vibe, eh, Fats? Then again, it was early. By the time imadethismistake took the stage, the Loft had reached its capacity (70? 80? 90? 666?). There just wasn't much room to dance. But at least the bean bags and sofa had been abandoned. Hell, this wasn't like church at all. And it certainly was not emo. I saw one, maybe two bedheads all night. And I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? Maybe they did just wake up.

All right, so you're probably wondering why Fats spent 6/6/06 at a comparatively wholesome event. Simple. After volunteering as a judge at Miami's first Laptop Battle three days earlier, I'd already gotten my fix of evil for the next six months (six days, and six hours, of course). Yes, all you rock-only freaks, computer-generated music has as much Christ-killing potential as the goriest death-metal group. Don't believe me? Tell it to the battle's winner, Otto Von Schirach — this guy makes Marilyn Manson look like Mary Poppins. A self-proclaimed "laptop gangsta," Otto's performance (in which he narrowly defeated a drunken Doormouse) was nothing short of total fucking gonzo. Two foot-long, silver-sequined cock 'n' balls? Check. Pinocchio nose? Check. Fake boobs? Check. Blond wig and shower cap? Check. Demonic vocals? Check. A song about making love to his laptop? Check. Acting out said number by rubbing the giant, glittery phallus on his computer? Check. And, finally, proclaiming himself the champion and everyone else a copycat? Double check. True, Otto did come out on top, but Doormouse and Broward's Wicked Dream Foundation (the black-dildo-wearing farmer also known as Brendan Grubb) gave the laptop gangsta a run for his Pentium. So what's this mean for OVS? Well, this December, he'll fly up to Seattle to rep South Florida in the national laptop battle. With any luck, Otto will make the WTO protests seem like a love-in... and erect his own silvery Space Needle in the process.

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Jason Budjinski

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