South Florida has always had a strong hardcore punk scene responsible for putting out some world-class bands in the past. However, recent years have found a lack of inspired bands and, more important, have lacked the sense of community that fosters the growth of such bands. Being a cyclical beast, your local hardcore scene is again spawning bands worthy of your interest; a new crop of sonically gratifying, aurally destructive bands that are putting more than just their own time and money where their DIY mouth is, they put out the genuine article for hardcore punk and have the potential to bring your jaded, 30-year-old ass out of mosh retirement.
Featuring a six-band bill, this particular show had three newer bands you need to know about, and I stress this, need to see live: Miami's Homestretch, West Palm Beach's Harbinger, and Daytona Beach's Axis. If these three bands don't make you proud to call Florida home again, you're probably too far gone, and I recommend trading your collection of seven-inches for the Sleigh Bells' full-length and an ironic mustache.
Harbinger was the first band to play, bringing with them from Palm Beach County a bit of mid-'90s NYC hardcore. No one wants the opening slot on a show with five other bands. It's not a fun place to be, and it can be as awkward as hearing your parents have sex. Harbinger handled it with ease, treating the smaller crowd of early birds to a hectic set of thrash-influenced hardcore in the vein of a band like Merauder. This band was made for your workout playlist.
Following Harbinger was Homestretch, which leaves for a U.S. tour this week. Absolutely the band voted most likely to succeed by its peers, is is the sound of coming unhinged: break-neck tempos, angular guitar riffs, and a frontman who appears to be on the verge of mental collapse. Singer George Geanuracos, who also performs with alt-country/Americana act Los Bastardos Magnificos
, brings an element of honest madness to the band's sound, wrapping heartfelt lyrics of social commentary in a blanket of rage. If you like Integrity or Converge, you owe it to yourself to grab Homestretch's upcoming full-length release. It may well become your new favorite record.
Following the two "locals," touring bands Eucharist
from Memphis, Tennessee, and Atlanta's Deathbed
played. Both younger bands and both having a distinct '90s twist to their sound, they each put on an excellent show, though failing to garner much movement from the crowd save for Eucharist's Earth Crisis cover. Both groups show a lot of potential and are worth keeping on eye on.
Daytona's Axis then took the stage, following suit with all of the bands by ignoring the high-rising stage behind them and actually setting up on the floor. This is an intense band with a lot to say, and there is no denying that it is putting everything it's got into the show. Singer Joshua Bunino is a frontman deeply rooted in the tradition of hardcore punk being a soapbox, and he makes sure you know what these songs are about and why they command such a violent expression. It's refreshing to see a band free from the self-referential rhetoric you've come to expect from your hardcore.
Closing last night's show was featured South Florida favorite All Hell Breaks Loose. Purveyors of all things heavy, this three-guitar outfit has been Miami's gift to the breakdown for roughly eight years, going off active duty for several years after the untimely passing of drummer Joe Lamadrid in 2004. They're back to being a moderately functioning band, and singer Alex Leon alluded to the potential for new material in the near future. Following Leon's assertion that "if you're not moving, you're an a-s-s-h-o-o-o-o-l-e", people found ways to stage-dive from any elevated surface available and heeded his request for movement. Nostalgia was running high as moshes were caught by many on the time machine back to the early 2000s, when an All Hell Breaks Loose set could find you with both a smile and several missing teeth.
An excellent night for hardcore and heavy music in general, there wasn't a single fight, and everyone appeared to have a good time. As Eucharist reminded everyone, venues come and go and should not be taken for granted. The Talent Farm
is a great place to catch a show, and while it's relatively off the map in the middle of the Everglades, owner Kevin Burns truly believes in what he does and has made a safe environment for both bands and fans to enjoy themselves. He has also given you the option of watching these shows via webcast, which is a very
cool feature considering some of the packages that have been rolling down State Road 27 to his place lately. The communal sense has started to make its way back to these parts, and via unsung hero of the movement John McHale's efforts under the Breakeven Booking
name, some of your soon-to-be favorite bands will continue to make their way to South Florida, so you'd do well not to sleep on it. If you'd like a taste of what this show had to offer and pretty much every other heavy music show that comes through South Florida, have a look at this