It's been 22 years since Rodney Mayo bought an old Salvation Army soup kitchen at 518 Clematis St. in West Palm Beach and converted it into the punk-rock institution it is today. So to celebrate, the king of Palm Beach nightlife put together an extravaganza last Saturday featuring some 20 bands across four stages, with free drinks and pizza to boot. Oh, how you spoil us, Mr. Mayo!
First up was Miami dance duo Afrobeta. We showed up during their disco-house track "That Thing," in which keyboardist Tony Smurphio emitted electric squiggles under frontwoman Cuci Amador's playful coos. Think Gloria Estefan meets Lady Miss Kier. Then it was time for a beeline to catch Stonefox ripping out a new track called "Prophesy Blues," a savage John Mayall-through-the-muck doozy.
We then ran across the street from Respectables to O'Sheas for a fill-'er-up on pints and witnessed the sloshy, three-chord feminine fury shelled out by West Palm Beach quartet Angry Pudding. Although lead vocalist LaBrea Tarpits shouts rather than sings into her microphone and the rest of the quartet hurls through their parts like nobody's business, the gals struck us as feverishly genuine.
Then, a few doors down at the Lounge, it was time to catch the State Of's polished keyboard stabs, with Steph Taylor's passionate verses over Nabedi Osorio's precise beats. Afterward, we made our way back to the main stage to witness the Mission Veo's post-punk showmanship, where Flock of Seagulls-coifed bass player Ryan Veo kept the rhythm steady as lead singer Jonny Veo sang in his ominous baritone.
Hollywood trio Tongues of the Heartworm was on next, back at O'Sheas, with smashingly concise high-octane punk. Then back at the Lounge came Boynton Beach trio Trip Don't Fall's funky conga-propelled jams, and again back at Respectables was the electro-punk madness of Kill Miss Pretty. The trio looked great on stage in matching black outfits, but the sound here proved lacking — Alicia Olink's sassy chants were often inaudible. What good is all this glam pageantry if we can't hear Miss Pretty?
Boston synth-pop trio Freezepop provided the evening's grand finale with a dual keytar attack that was like taking a DeLorean ride back to 1983. On cascading synthesized number "Less Talk More Rokk," the Duke of Pannekoeken demonstrated such five-fingered deftness on his instrument that many might have thought he was some sort of keytar Eric Clapton.
For a venue in fickle South Florida, Respectable Street is downright ancient. So what is the secret to Mayo's 22 years of success? "Never wavering from the original concept," he says. Here's to another 22 more years of great gigs and cheap drinks.