Load Trip

Four angry young drunks drive to the top of the local rock heap

There's nothing in the fridge but beers so you wipe the sleep away and go to get some breakfast at two o'clock on a stormy Miami afternoon. You order a hamburger minus pickles at the Burger King drive-thru, park over by the Winn-Dixie. You unwrap the burger to discover the goddamn thing has been soaked with at least a quart of condiments; it isn't even edible, and you are not choosy. You stumble into the Winn-Dixie, but there are no shopping carts, and the lines are too long anyway.

You sit in traffic. Finally you get back home, empty-handed, and decide to have a beer for breakfast after all. This sucks.

You drop the needle on the "Pastor's Day" seven-inch. Shut down screams the lead singer over a buoyant, almost bouncy, instrumental roar. Go to hell, he shrieks like a dying man. Motherfucker...Johnny Appleseed...Shut down. And now things don't suck so much.

"There was this guy on the MTV Awards from Pearl Jam," says one of the members of Miami's most low-down band, Load. "He said that if it wasn't for music, he would kill himself. For us, it's more like if it wasn't for the music, we'd be killing other people."

The four members of Load -- Jeff, Fausto, Tony, and Bobby -- walk into Ted's Hideaway south of South Beach. This is a neighborhood bar -- pool tables and an unpredictable jukebox, cheap beers and the regulars who drink them. Geographically Ted's is only a few blocks from Poseur Row over on Washington Avenue, but in every other way it could be another planet.

There's trouble early. A bearded bartender, tall as a tree, taps loudly on the bar. Bobby, Load's lead screamer, tries to lift up his head and accept the big glass of draft beer. "You can't sleep on the bar," the barkeep says, more to the rest of us than to Bobby himself, as if we are Bobby's caretakers, which I guess we are.

Bobby springs to life -- sort of. "My problem's that I'm a drunk but I can't really fight." That's a good thing -- that he can't fight. Too many people might get hurt.

A heavyset man smoking Camel no-filters hollers across the bar to Jeff, initiating a conversation about Jeff's dreadlocks. Something about jumping in the ocean, bacteria, ticks and fleas, the chlorine in swimming pools. That's how my hair got this way, Jeff offers. The big guy yells, "Sue 'em. Sue 'em." The big guy has warmed to the Loadsters, walks over and inserts himself into the conversation, such as it is. He brags about his souped-up truck, and Bobby says, "Who the fuck cares?" Big Guy does not like this, spits out a "What's that, pal?" Bobby looks up, effects a sincere expression, and says, "I said, 'I think that's really interesting'."

There is a moment of quiet as we re-up on drafts. "I really like that band the Angry Samoans," Bobby blurts to no one in particular.

Tony, who plays bass, surveys the scene at Ted's and approves. "This is the kind of place," he says, "where if you think you've really got problems, you come here and realize you don't." I think he's insulting the clientele, but with Load you're never sure.

Well, sometimes you're sure. Like at Miami Rocks this past February. More than one mover-and-shaker was worried about his or her band saying something negative about the music industry for which South Florida's top acts were showcasing. For two nights those fears went unfounded. Cell 63 was notably polite, at least for them. Holy Terrors held their tongues. And so on. No one -- their manager, for instance -- had expressed such concerns about Load, the final band of the event. "Hi, we're Miami Sucks, Too!" Bobby bleated at the high-profile crowd. "Shiver me timbers and blow the man down! Only on the weekends! For Christ's sake! All you people are lame as fuck!"

You might say they were chomping off the hand that feeds them, except that Load has little use for the games of the biz. They are a real punk band.

Punk bands play by different rules. Maybe that's why the press never mentions them. Load has released two brilliant seven-inch singles, with a third due out in a month, and a full-length cassette. They appear on the Churchill's Hideaway live CD. Tomorrow they will begin their third tour of the Southeast. When they headlined a show at the Plus 5 in Davie on a recent Saturday night, they drew 263 fans, a number any local band would be proud of. In fact, the club had set 300 as a goal -- if the band could have brought in a few more customers, they would've received a bonus.

Maybe the press would pay attention to a band that clearly deserves recognition if the members of Load would tell reporters their last names. Or at least put their names on the sleeves of their records or in their press releases. Or if Bobby would sober up for once. Or if they'd make a video. But then they wouldn't be a punk band.

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