"The thing I like most about festivals," says Roger Forbes, half of live-music promotion powerhouse Speedfreak Presents, "is that there's always going to be some bands you don't know."
In fact, Forbes believes pairing the familiar with the unknown is the absolute crux of a fest's success. The fans are baited and satisfied with artists they know and love. But their lust for tuneage keeps them around long enough to make a few accidental discoveries.
It's in this spirit of plunging headfirst into the new that Forbes and his partner-in-Freak (and Torche drummer) Rick Smith have revived the popular punk and hardcore music showcase 305 Fest. And in doing so, the pair might be establishing Miami's most nationally relevant live-music event since Ultra Music Festival.
305 Fest: With Bastard Noise, Iron Lung, Dropdead, Noothgrush, Torche, Jacuzzi Boys, Floor, and others, presented by Speedfreak. Friday, July 6, through Sunday, July 8, at Churchill's Pub, 5505 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Doors open at 4 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Three-day passes cost $60 via speedfreak.bigcartel.com.
After cutting his teeth in countless local punk and hardcore bands (many of which performed at the original 305 Fests), Smith says that joining Torche in 2004 "was a big turning point. Lots of things changed. I began doing real tours and playing bigger venues and festivals. I basically started to get my first taste of what it's like to do things on a more serious and organized level."
A half-decade later, he and Forbes copromoted a comeback concert for legendary Miami sludge trio Floor, and the show was a total success. So these enterprising dudes decided to team up, making Speedfreak a permanent operation. And over the past 18 months, they've scored some major booking coups, bringing Providence, Rhode Island's Dropdead and New Orleans's Eyehategod to Miami. But this year's 305 Fest is undoubtedly their most ambitious project to date.
Yet the multiday marathon predates Speedfreak. It was established in 2004 as an extension of the Alley, a semisecret DIY warehouse in Allapattah. At the time, the festival provided a survey of the local underage scene, featuring performances from cult Miami favorites like metalcore enthusiasts Adore Miridia and math-rockers Pygmy, in addition to acts from around the country, such as the sassy, screaming An Albatross and posthardcore outfit Stop It!
In 2005, the fest returned for a second time. But there was a four-year hiatus before it was revived by the now-defunct Firefly collective. And after two more editions of the festival, 305 Fest changed hands again when punk collective Miami Chumbucket took over operations.
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Now it's Speedfreak's turn. And not only have Forbes and Smith rebooted the tradition, but they've also put together a totally insane 47-band lineup. Though previous 305 Fests have struggled to lure national acts to Miami, the 2012 edition's musical roster looks like a heavy-music wish list, loaded with certifiable legends including Bastard Noise, Dropdead, and Noothgrush.
But the bands aren't the only ones traveling for 305 Fest. Fans and festivalgoers from all over the U.S. are also planning a pilgrimage to Miami. "I get messages asking for hotel recommendations," Forbes laughs. "Mike Williams, the frontman for Eyehategod, was like, 'Why don't you fly me down there and I'll be the official host.'"
This is exciting stuff, because a festival can define a city. For many, Austin is synonymous with South by Southwest, the annual industry extravaganza that's replaced bright-eyed road trips to NYC (or L.A.) as the definitive means of "making it." And of course, if you want bright Big Apple lights in your eyes, you can still go north for the annual CMJ festival.
But for a certain swath of the Southeast's concertgoing public that just wants stage dives and high-fives, the Magic City might now be an acceptably moshable option for a midsummer musical vacation.