I died at 305 Fest!

by Mariel Z. B.

Friday, Dec. 11th Day 1-
Note: for full descriptions of anything marked with an asterisk* see bottom of the page.

How could we begin to talk about day 1 without mentioning pre-305 fest karaoke at 7 Seas Thursday night? Spearheaded by Julie Ghoulie of the SCMM*, several homies and usual suspects invaded the chill dive bar off Red Rd. to drink pitchers and wail with Bernie (7 seas’ crotchety resident karaoke host.) To keep it brief, shit was lit. Next year it should be an official event. Stay tuned.

Anyway Friday was a bit of a trip down memory lane. Let's call it bittersweet. When Die Trying played several Hellhounds* covers it took me back to a time when I was 15, in a little band called OUCH!*, all about street punk and Mickey’s grenades--I'm still about the grenades, honestly-- but things seemed simpler then. We were more optimistic with our unified angst and certainly less jaded. While I'd likely define our generation as apathetic and lost, this set, along with Party Flag, and Lower Class Brats felt like a glimmer of nostalgic hope.

Lower Crass Brats
 photo by Fernanda Maura
Now to salt my open heart, there was Noisear, Albuquerque heathens. Holy fucking shit, guys. Their set was a welcomed vice to the dome, I mean true skull-crushing grind. With so many nuanced time signatures a’la Sun Ra space jazz chaos-style, you'd worry it would muck up the sound-- but instead it's accentuated. Thrashy riffs glide atop their blast beats, with raw, chord-slashing vocals. That’ll do.

*SCMM is Miami’s Shade County Metal Militia, started by founders, Chainsaw Chelsea and Molotov Mariel. The SCMM has chapters in Tampa and Orlando with more to come.

*The Hellhouds were a hardcore punk band from Miami who released some solid tunes on BudsRecords back in 2005/2006.

*OUCH! was an all-female punk band composed of Danielle Otrakji on guitar/vox, Joana Rigol on bass, and yours truly on drums. This was around 2006 or so, back when we couldn't play our instruments too well but slayed regardless.

305 Fest Day 2

Saturday, Dec. 12th.-

The following is an excruciatingly detailed account of Saturday, from my fuzzy perspective. If you wanted an abridged take on day 2, with just the meat and potatoes of how shit went down, this sure as hell ain’t it.

Saturday began with an unintentional smack to the face from Bloodbath (Kath.) This aloof broad forgot she rode with Eric of Wastelands to Churchill’s Friday night and cruised with a bunch of us to Palacio for some post-day 1 binge drinking. Anyway, without a ride home she crashed at my place, like a senile horse on PCP.

In the same clothes from a long night we walked to the Latin cafe at the end of my block, and subdued our nausea with bud, tostadas, and cafe con leche. My ol’ whip was in the shop getting her fuel pump changed (It’s great pretending I can afford maintaining a classic,)  so sweet, stoned Eric came to pick up Bloodbath. Meanwhile Ghoulie (Julie), Gritos (Kris), and Crowbar (Carl,) picked my car up at the shop and got their asses down here.

To be honest, I spent most of the day chilling in the whip with Ghoulie. It wasn’t for any particular reason besides the fact we’re comfortable as hell in there. We decided it’s the official SCMM* clubhouse/living room on wheels. Sure, it’s illegal to smoke bowls and drink beers in there, but legality’s never stopped us from doing what we feel inclined to do.

So we caught the last couple sets at The Cave, which kicked ass for several reasons.

Gordo and Michi of Nunhex/Antifaces held down the grill, cooking up skewers of grub while Night Witch slayed the lot. I’d never heard ‘em before, which is silly since they’re only from Tallahassee, but they’re solid crust and impactful as all hell. Rosie’s pipes reminded me of that bad bitch, Lynda from Sacrilege, specifically Behind the Realms of Madness-era, and I’m all about it.

However, the last set really stole the daytime show-- and that was Sadie’s. At three-years-old she fearlessly guerilla-style peeled in on her pink trike and performed what I’d consider a raw, melodic noise set. Pop a contact mic on her wheels, add some distortion and a hair of reverb (yes, Rat, REVERB*) to her vocals, and you’ve got No Work’s latest release right there. Drunk off juice boxes and milk, Sadie wailed a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that made passerby’s break neck and listeners capture the impromptu set on camera.
Keep on keepin’ on, Sadie.

Ghoulie and I had some time to kill before Churchill’s got going so we hit up J.Wakefield Brewery for some quality beers. She had El Jefe and I drank Ronan the Strawberian. We may have lost track of time and chugged the craft brews, but we pulled up to church right before Shadow Hunter’s set. Holy heavy. Watching them made me wonder what Ghoulie and I would’ve sounded like if CRUD remained a two-piece and got some serious bowel-loosening stacks. It ain’t easy to pull that minimal, doomy shit off, which only made me appreciate these Jacksonville sludge lords even more. Cliff, the bassist, looked quite familiar, and why? Because I served him once, back when I bartended at Pinkie Master’s in Savannah and still had hope for the future.

Soon after, over Rolling Rocks and shots of tequila, the SCMM inducted Axehammer Alfie for our Tampa chapter. She’s the only one in the militia with a bike-- a 2001 750 Honda Shadow Spirit to be exact. We’re eternally bummed she’s moving to Idaho, but stoked it's with her peach of a partner, Ben from Landbridge. Axehammer and Ghoulie talked about hauntings and ghosts for a bit while I played a couple rounds of pool before our set.

Snakehole riled up the crowd while we loaded in. I frantically looked for my cymbal bag, which got confused for Eric’s, but Gordo was kind enough to lend me his ride and crash so we got started. Lightnin’ Lou (Luis) said we’re heavy as hell, akin to Consular, and carry some serious weight these days-- which is a huge compliment. I smashed my pinky on the floor tom rim several times, bruised it up on one side, opened a blister on the other, and didn’t feel a damn thing until it was over. Some homies took a selfie with Crowbar Carl, others went buck for Steve Buscemi’s Eyes, and we didn’t play our surprise 30 second song-- next time, y’all.

 photo by Fernanda Maura

Bleeth played after us but I didn’t catch ‘em-- I had to douse myself with a gallon of water and burn one to level out. They played twice that day yet managed a different set for each show, like that established older sibling that makes you feel unaccomplished.

By the time I got back inside Testokra started, and it’s about damn time they played a reunion. Acidburn (Ale) is a fucking beast. She’s impressive in Wastelands, hauling each groove on bass, but her set with Testokra only reminded us of her multi-instrumental talent. Her posture was ace, fills on point, and she barely broke a sweat; I'm not just saying this because she’s a best friend. The crowd raged hard to their nasty riffs and memories.

I took a shot with Ghoulie (snuck half of it to Bobby) and Consular took the floor. God bless these heavyweights. Matt’s vocals might've been too low, and maybe some girl was reading an e-book during their set (yes, really,) but the wake of Consular’s crushing authority was felt regardless. Let's take a minute to appreciate what these guys have done for South Florida hardcore/doom/sludge/etc. Hell, I know CRUD wouldn't sound the way we do if it wasn't for Don't Cross the Swine. I was hooked since before Angelo gave me his cracked 23” ride, during a time when the Santa-Lucia crib was a regular show spot and Churchill’s still belonged to Dave Daniel’s.

photo by Fernanda Maura
But finally, DRI played. I would say I haven’t seen folks go that wild since the pub’s glory days --when Nicky did doughnuts for INC, and Alex was still welcomed to the bar he called home-- except this is when I blacked out. Kinda. Maybe I was eating lamb fries by the food truck, trying to sober up. I couldn't tell ya. I can say Alex was banned, supposedly for stage-diving during DRI. The cops were even called when he re-entered the pub to close out his tab, because y’know, why would anyone want to pay their tab, get their card back, and tip their bartender? If stage-diving is grounds for expulsion, Churchill’s is going to find itself completely gentrified soon.

Fingers crossed it becomes a vape bar.

There was another post-DRI show at Palacio --apparently I told Chainsaw I was going-- but instead I drove home, parallel parked phenomenally, ate some ice cream, and passed out by 4. I heard I missed out, but a baby can only rage so hard. Until next time.

Lysp at Palacio de los Jugos 4am 
photo by Fernanda Maura

*SCMM- Shade County Metal Militia, in case you didn't read day 1.

*REVERB- Rat hates reverb. He's says it’s like you're hiding, taking away from the potential substance within the music.

*Details like time and order of occurrences may be slightly off. As I mentioned throughout my account, I was perpetually inebriated and clung to little nuggets of reality that proved true for one reason or another. Then again isn't that all we ever do?