South Florida has a truly difficult time sustaining venues. Between the driving distance (frequently between counties) required to reach most of these venues and the general nature of our local economy, the area is one of the least hospitable environments for live music in the history of the universe. So, when a venue celebrates its 26th year in business, it's totally proper cause for a jubilant celebration that flows into the very streets that surround.
Respectable Street Cafe has hosted countless memorable parties and concerts of both the regrettable and joyous sorts for over a quarter of a century. Were the club a breathing human being, it would still be nursing a hangover from Saturday's festivities, and probably admit that it only kind of sort of remembers years 18 to 24.
For the mob of people that gathered to pay Respects some birthday respect, the night was a blur of free pizza, free drinks, and free music -- most of which was provided by various troupes of South Florida-bred acts. Hollywood's 33 1/3rds kicked off the party on the large stage under the last few stars of summer. The elusive group threw down a short set of raucous punk-infused garage that shook the dust off the early crowd and made for ideal pizza-eating tunes.
As the crowd filled in, we overheard conversations about crazy Thursday nights people had or the "epic" shows witnessed within the walls of Respects. Warm reminiscence was the main focus of the evening, and as the music raged on perpetually -- 5 stages with 26 acts -- the scene felt like an ideal period at the end of a long summer sentence.
The headliners for the evening were an eclectic mix of artists. Local favorites Everymen brought a bit of regional flavor with a punk-inspired Americana assault. Hollywood's Beach Day performed a set of its jangling '60s inspired surf-rock on the main stage before Miami favorites, garage-rock upstarts the Jacuzzi Boys took the stage. The JBs screeched, echoed, and crunched through a wild set that had the crowd hopping and dancing -- a pretty standard reaction to the group's performances.
Finally, the night ended with Cold Cave, the dark electronica project that is the brainchild of former American Nightmare (Give Up the Ghost) frontman, Wesly Eisold. Prior to Eisold mounting a synth assault on the crowd, a massive birthday cake was brought on stage and the traditional birthday ritual of shooting a veritable flood of ping-pong balls and confetti from an air cannon was completed. A few of the balls that accosted the crowd were painted. If you caught one of those, you got a bar tab and some other fun stuff. However, the cartoonish way the birthday was celebrated completely betrayed the point of a Cold Cave gig.
Cold Cave is dark. Nay, Cold Cave is the darkest. Just to make sure we've properly articulated this point, Eisold recently toured with Boyd Rice. Rice was besties with Anton Lavey, used to visit Charles Manson in prison on a consistent basis, and was an early proponent of noise music and power electronics. So, when Eishold took the stage to close the night with a dour "happy birthday" and began his own ritual of building bass and synth thump, it struck us as sort of an odd way to close the night out.
A Cold Cave performance in an outside setting to a crowd of party animals that were, by-and-large, in too good a mood to be bothered with the somber side of synths was just not happening. There is a specific environment required for this sort of performance to go over properly, and though Respects and its patrons are familiar with this type of fare (Swans show, anyone?), it just might have been a little optimistic to think that such a dark act would make for a great celebration.
It was hard to tell if Eisold was feeling the awkward vibes himself, or simply in his character as Cold Cave. The singer skulked about the stage, barked his aggressive croons into a mic, and swung about in place with his pleather-wrapped hand grasping the microphone stand. As the constrained synth and rolling bass of "A Little Death to Laugh" smashed through the crowd, it appeared the patrons of the party had began to dissipate and the night was winding down.
Despite an odd ending -- and what great night doesn't end oddly? -- we're certain this party ensures at least another 26 years of wild and great gigs at Respects.
From the Stage: "We're the 33 1/3rds and we're from Margaritaville!" - Rob Budowsky
Random detail: The Ruins fit 7 people on and around the RSC's small outside stage. It was the punk rock equivalent of a clown car.