Not even the impending threat of Tropical Storm Isaac could stop this show.
As mentioned in a previous article, live music company Music Zone sponsored the first Rock Kings of South Florida Saturday, August 25 at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. Despite the impending inclement weather, Culture Room was still fairly crowded. Unlike a lot of shows in the South Florida area, this one started at the announced time of 7:00 p.m with Music Zone High School Music Clash winners Leave It To Us.
Leave It To Us is a pop-punk band from Coral Springs. The members are barely out of high school, however, they already have a well-defined sound. The drumming from Dustin Castella was especially strong. They played an enjoyable half-hour set, one of the highlights of which was an original song called “Scumbag”. Another highlight was hearing a Blink-182 cover that wasn’t “All the Small Things”, a favorite of both cover and original bands alike. The cover they played was “Dammit”, Blink-182’s first hit single from the 1997 album “Dude Ranch”. The only misstep in the set was when a guest singer by the name of Alexa came out to sing on a new song called “Waiting on You”. Watching her sing her part was like watching TV with mute on: there were words being said, but no one could hear them. This was unfortunate since the song was otherwise good.
Punk band Here’s to Nathan went on after Leave It To Us at about 8 p.m. They didn’t deviate much from the usual punk formula: fast and discordant drums and guitars, angry whoa-oh-ohs, and nearly unintelligible singing. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was hard to distinguish them from other punk bands. While the songs were technically good, they had almost no distinguishing qualities. Hopefully, with more time, they will be able to mature and decide what makes them stand out from the pack.
Metal band Ornimental was up after Here’s to Nathan. They gave the impression that they were still finding their identity as a band, as they fell into certain metal cliches. One of these cliches was speaking solely in a guttural growl when talking to the crowd just for the “effect”. Singer Danny Perry brought a great energy to the performance and the band’s sound was solid, so the pretenses were unnecessary.
Kill the Messengers, a metal band from Fort Lauderdale, performed after Ornimental. The room had cleared out a little bit, but Kill the Messengers was determined to have a good time. This was obvious by lead and/or rhythm guitarist, Zack Webb’s, wardrobe choice of a Spiderman hoodie (complete with Spiderman mask). Their half-hour set was the most fun of the night, as Webb danced, punched his guitar in time with the drums and put on the Spiderman mask to the amusement of the crowd. As for the music, the screams that were sprinkled in with the vocals were done well and had a purpose within the songs, a rare thing.
Hard rock band Daybreak Embrace played next. Their sound doesn’t just fill a room, it thunders into it. As the sound traveled outside to the patio area, it brought the rest of the crowd in with it. It was suddenly very hard to find a place to stand. Singer James “Wamo” Wamsley’s voice has a great vulnerability to it, and the man himself has a very commanding stage presence. They performed a mix of new songs as well as songs from their 2010 EP “Tomorrow Awaits”. The beginning of the title track, performed through a bullhorn, added yet another interesting element to their set.
My Amends, a hard rock band from Fort Lauderdale, played after Daybreak Embrace. Lead singer Justin Dailey had great energy, but his vocals left something to be desired. This was unfortunate as their music, though a bit bass heavy, was well-done. They were that band one wanted to like, but they just never really got there.
Headliners Atom Smash closed out the show at around midnight. Hailing from South Florida, the foursome have been around since 2008, and were signed to Jive Records before it got folded into RCA Records in 2011. As a result of their major label experience, the group always manages to put on a dynamic show that includes past hits as well as songs from their current offering, “Beautiful Alien”. What makes them so dynamic is lead singer Sergio “Serg” Sanchez’ unerring instinct of when to get crazy and when to slow it down during the performance. Another thing that distinguishes them is the excellent guitar playing from Luke “Cowboy” Rice, especially during the cover and/or jam session that starts midway through the set. During that portion of the set, the rhythm section is on full display. One can see how well they perform from the way they constantly jump off the stage and interact with the crowd – while still playing their instruments.
Culture Room is located at 3045 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. Unless otherwise stated, admission is restricted to those 18 and up. For the 21 and up crowd, there is a bouncer who will ask for ID. It’s also a good idea to bring cash as at least one of the bars is cash only and the others may place a hold on one’s account. Culture Room doesn’t serve food (though they do have snacks available for purchase). There are, however, several restaurants in the area as well as a Publix.
For more information, visit Music Zone’s, Culture Room’s or any of the artists’ websites.