Respectable Street Cafe's 25th Anniversary Block Party - West Palm Beach - August 25

West Palm Beach
August 25, 2011

Better than: Getting only to see one band at an overpriced venue.

Once again Respectable Street Cafe showed that they can throw a truly extravagant and memorable fete. Celebrating "25 years of Oblivion" this Saturday night, 25 bands on four stages and scores of people braved that obnoxious lil' Isaac to listen to music and eat chicken wings. 

Headlined by The Misfits, this all night raunch fest came in at the sweet price of free. Crossing the very rare 25 year mark, the indie dance club has seen its share of shit by now, and the anniversary block party added one more rambunctious evening to their enduring legacy of fun. 

To ensure an early crowd, the party got started like every night should, with a full hour of free boozing. It looked like Hurricane Issac wanted to join in on the festivities when a light drizzle fell right around 9 p.m. The crowd moved inside, just in time to catch Retrocities, a 3-piece from Pompano Beach. Playing together since 2008, this postpunk trio is clearly inspired by the likes of The Cure and Joy Division, focusing more on mastering chilled-out riffs and less on mind-bending lyrics. It wasn't the type of music that got people moshing, but the catchy songs would be nice to listen to at home in candlelight. Guitarist Vitek Benton let it be known, "I know you are here for the open bar, but thanks for listening to us," giving the soggy crowd some love.

Following Retrocities, Band In Heaven drew a large crowd out on Clematis Street at the main stage. The sound setup wasn't stellar, but this homegrown 5-piece owns the stage. Their set of originals and a Cranberries cover brought groups of dancers to the front and made us clap along. The band rocked it so hard that at one point, lead guitarist and singer Ates Isildak lost his glasses. Lauren Dwyer on backup vocals and keys summed up their set in one sentiment "Thank you. Actually, you're welcome." There was a little bit of trash talking about headliners The Misfits, and Band In Heaven took to their Facebook page the next morning to apologize.
Inside, Ribbon Dancer finally got people moving and started to fill in the glaringly empty spots on the dance floor. A quick look at the scene on the Respectables patio showed metal thrashers, Riot Agents, playing their hearts out for an unappreciative crowd, prompting the drummer and vocalist to shout: "You guys suck out there!!" But luckily, The Hard Richards were up next on the patio and created the complete inverse effect.  

The Hard Richards arrived 15 minutes late and straight up tore the stage to pieces, producing the most pumped up and packed crowd of the evening. Playing with rotating members for the last 18 years, the Hard Richards have an enduring South Florida ska/punk legacy. The combination of two lead singers, saxophone, trombone, and killer drum skills dripped with the pure essence of ska. This made the crowd lose their shit. The moshpit was going so hard, one of the singers proclaimed, "I thought it was raining for a sec, but it's just you motherfuckers sweating." The Hard Richards had the lights turned out on them when they went over set time, but nothing was going to stop them from putting on the raunchiest set of the night.
The guys in Retrocities and Band In Heaven both agreed on the band they were looking forward to most: Ordinary Boys. Bringing the music that Respects regulars crave, Ordinary Boys are South Florida's only Smiths and Morrissey cover band. The Boys got the crowd instantly moving to the familiar tunes that have helped define the Respectable Street scene. Overall, the songs were exactly what you wanted but the band looked rather bored on stage, as any proper Smiths tribute act should.

The crowd was chockfull of partygoers that dug up their old Misfits tees, and finally at midnight, amongst all the Instragram-ing and PBR nonsense, the headliners were set to take the stage. A performance shrouded in controversy of how Misfits-y these Misfits really are, no one seemed to care as the trio emerged in full makeup and costumed goodness. There wasn't much band banter, as the quick punk songs went one after another. Misfits fans stretched over the entire block, but the moshpitting madness stayed up by the stage. The Misfits were kind enough to hang around inside Respectables after their set and take pictures with diehard fans, and people who just love to take pictures with sort of famous people.
Lucky for all, the hurricane and party gods came together and decided not to ruin our good time. For a party that kicked off at 8, it's wild that all 25 bands had finished playing around 1 in the morning. The only people that looked bored all night were the cops that were left with nothing to do. Just as you would expect, the block party brought out the outcast in everyone as we danced the night away hoping for another 25 years of Respectable Street awesomeness.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Respectable Street is a staple in my downtown life, so I was way too juiced to run around my favorite place and catch as many bands as I could.

The Crowd: Everyone from Respectable Street owner Rodney Mayo to 8th grade punkers and downtown regulars. If you missed this party, you're doing it wrong.

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Dana Krangel