Zitfest Day 1 Explodes at Orange Door, December 17

Zitfest Day 1
With Snakehole, Partial People, Nerve City, Slippery Slopes, Jacuzzi Boys, and Cop City/Chill Pillars
The Orange Door, Lake Park
Friday, December 17, 2010

Read a review of Day 2 here.

Better than: The satisfaction one feels when popping a gigantic puss filled pimple that ejects its white gooey innards all over the mirror.

The review: The inaugural Zitfest packaging of over 18 mostly South Floridian (a handful where from points further north like Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville,) on-the-cusp bands at Lake Park venue Orange Door commanded some serious attention. Although thrown together in a little over a month's time by members of local groups the Jameses and Cop City/Chill Pillars, this two-day musical binge of local bands "set to burst" came together quite nicely on its opening night.

An amicable, good-natured vibe filled the room full as we made our way into the strip mall locale of the Orange Door (which peculiarly enough has a door that is more beige than orange). In attestation to how supportive the local scene has become, a large part of the crowd in the red and white checkered floor bar consisted of members from other local acts -- including Surfer Blood's guitarist Thomas Fekete showing his support.

The night began in a relatively timely fashion with no intros, and no banter with Miami punk trio Snakehole. And the trippy Weird Days visuals projected on a screen behind them upped the twisted sweetness as it unfolded. Although each riotous grrrl wasn't afraid to smile, their set of rabid one-minute blasts was anything but genial. Next, Gainesville's youthful duo Partial People blasted its way through a couple of semi-intelligible one-and-one-half-minute ditties soaked in reverb -- and an occasional hoot into the microphone. Both raucous affairs were over in a flash.

Nerve City, the only out-of-state act of the night, took to the stage next. Although performing as a two-piece live, this band is actually a one-man project of sorts for former Miami, Florida and now Richmond, Virginia resident Jason Boyer, who did a stint with infamous Miami hardcore band Poison the Well. With the treble cranked up to the max, Boyer churned through a set that effused a gritty vintage sound that had many parallels to the Stooges at its most deliciously filthy. For being a duo, Boyer and his drummer did a magnificent job blasting the room with its gritty bombast. Because of its bare-bones makeup, some comparisons could be drawn to the White Stripes brand of minimalist rock-- with Boyer belting out scuzzy blues riffs in-between filling in bass parts amidst his drummer's ferocious snare drum attack.

Then there was the ramshackle spectacle/disaster of Orlando's Slippery Slopes. These Jacuzzi Boy's label mates (Florida's Dying) might not have been the most sonically in tune band of the evening, but they were, hands down, the night's most memorable. Moments into this set, Slippery Slopes frontman Erik Grincewicz was belted in the face by a tall, long-haired guy in the front row, knocking out one of his sunglasses lenses in the process. Grincewicz wasted no time returning the favor, immediately socking the person on the right cheek. Although this interaction between fan and band sounds rather harsh, it actually came off as a gesture of mutual appreciation. As the group pounced its way through an over-modulated set of lo-fi punk, it splashed its PBR onto the crowd. There were certainly elements to this rollicking band's set that made us wonder if this was what CBGB's might have been like in the late '70s. Grincewicz himself possesses a John Malkovich mannerism with a quirk about him reminiscent of Jim Carrey as Fire Marshal Bill.

A surprisingly sparse crowd welcomed Miami's Jacuzzi Boys, because the smokers had to take it to the parking lot outside. As soon as the trio's scuzzy, spiraling guitars started filtering out, the crowd began to amass. By the group's second number, "Island Avenue," the Orange Door was close to capacity. One of the band's most tried and true songs for years, the three-piece shelled it with the kind of fervor the goes into playing it for the first time. Guitarist/front man Gabriel Alcala made excellent use of all his effects pedals on this one; one step and his guitar would be awash with walls of dirty hiss, another step and his vocals would careen into a deep cavernous wail. Alcala's vocal effects were a highlight throughout the show, his primal howl one of the Jacuzzi Boy's signature elements. We also noticed that Alcala was sporting a recently trimmed up mane, which made him look a bit like the Strokes' Julian Casablancas. Perhaps it was not just the new do; Alcala also emits that effortlessly cool stage persona in the manner of the Strokesfather.

For the finale of the evening, Lake Worth ensemble Cop City/Chill Pillars took the stage. This local unit with the Soviet acronym (CCCP) offered a denser garage rock alternative to slightly bent charge that filled the rest of the night. As a seven-piece -- with five people in the rhythm section smacking on congas, maracas, and snare drums and cymbals -- there were many layers to its time-shifting set. They highlight for us was a number where it toned down the complexity a bit, a song called "Things." It began with Dick Dale-ish surf rock guitars that led into the catchy-yet-mesmerizing hook: "there is a lot of things you got, that I don't got." It seemed to have a hypnotizing effect on a 1:30 a.m. crowd already weary from enduring five other act's frenzy.

Judging by the acts on this night's bill, South Florida certainly has a gigantic pustule worth of local talent that is on the verge of combusting. Zitfest served to bring it one-step closer to spewing its talent across the nation.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: The Stooges and early Rolling Stones LPs are prized positions in my vinyl collection.

Random Detail: We would also be remiss if we did not give a nod to Orange Door's soundman/barman, who did an outstanding job mixing the levels while tending the bar.

Overheard: "I'm going to try to dance to this one with my feet only on the red boxes."

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Alex Rendon