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photo by Benjamin Thacker
Surf Nazis on Ecstasy
Saturday, May 30
Better Than: Midnight at the mortuary.
They don't surf, they aren't Nazis and they don't do drugs -- but Surf Nazis on Ecstasy sure do suck. And by sucking, they are actually really rocking. After all, isn't that what punk is all about?
Hailing from of the Baltimore, Maryland area, this power violence trio headlined the show Saturday night at Miami's newest DIY venue, Goo. Other local acts on the bill included Hialeah hardcore outfit Hardware Youth, "brown metal" band Hellmass, grindcore maniacs Eztorbo Social, and death punkers Mehkago N.T. Think loud.
Formerly a 1950s funeral parlor, Goo is a no-frills warehouse space in Little Haiti run by friends Kenny Fee and Angelo Santalucia. The two have been hosting all-ages concerts and music festivals there since January. Goo's concrete flooring and walls emphasize the already exaggerated decibel level, while the complete lack of lighting (other than two party-store strobes behind the stage) keeps the focus on the music (and the seizures). This makes it nearly impossible to anticipate the sudden, enthusiastic outbursts of flailing fists and donkey kicks that erupt sporadically out of the darkness.
Actually, all the bands were pretty good, particularly Hellmass, whose horror-spike guitar straps and creepy gas-mask attire added a certain degree of credibility to their impressively tight performance. Audience members came in from the parking lot and gathered around the stage for each band's set, applauding politely after songs, or exploding into violent displays of dance accordingly. Long build-up intros, painfully loud heavy metal guitars, blast beats, and chain-smoking banshee vocals filled the small hall up to its swelling point, with heads banging and bodies twitching in unison.
To passers by on Northwest 54th Street, show night in the parking lot at Goo probably looks a lot like a Halloween party at a tow yard. Mohawked, tattooed, and pierced-up adolescents litter the tight spaces between the haphazardly double-parked vehicles like so many beer-guzzling zombies in a cemetery. But despite the chains and spikes and dirty cut-off jeans, Goo co-founder Kenny Fee says there has never been so much as a fight at one of his shows. The punk scene is surprisingly civil.
And that goes for the Surf Nazis too. Unlike the maniacal surfer villains in the 1987 Troma film Surf Nazis Must Die, Sean, Jon, and Justin are models of approachability and intellectuality. I kept thinking about Wayne and Garth backstage with Alice Cooper, another controversial shock-rocker with a nerdy side.
Discussion ranged from boycotting Walmart to working definitions of punk, to veganism, and beyond. You have to hand it to these guys for keeping it very real. They play exclusively all-ages shows, often unpaid, touring around in a Jeep Cherokee with a U-Haul trailer. Although their set was less than memorable, their collective charisma left a lasting impression. Punk rock lives.
Personal Bias: There is always a place in my heart for some death metal.
Random Detail: If you plan on leaving a Goo show early, it's probably better to park on the street, where you won't be parked in hopelessly.
By the Way: Bring earplugs.