The layman might have expected a very different sort of "305 Fest." By inserting Miami's area code into the name of 305 Fest, the punks and headbangers behind the two night extravaganza challenged an outsider's expectations of what Miami music all about. If some poor schlub strolled into Churchill's this past weekend expecting to join in on a conga line or shake their sizable booty to Miami bass, they would have left quickly, shocked and outraged with ringing ears. The nine year running 305 Fest made Churchill's ground zero this weekend for all things hardcore. Saturday night, the landmark bar was close to capacity with gravity defying mohawks and safety pin-pierced black jackets.
There was to be an outdoor and indoor stage, but due to fear of rain, both stages were moved inside. This change, of course, made the scheduled set times a fantasy, but allowed the patio to serve as a quieter place where the band members and their fans could contemplate and discuss the loud volumes their bodies just absorbed.
Local heavy sludge and metal was represented by bands like Consular, Bleeth, Nekromaniak, and Snakehole. They were as real and filthy and Miami as Churchill's notorious tagged up, flooded bathrooms — which, on Saturday night, had a crushed beer can clogging one of its toilets.
305 fest also prides itself on bringing in a wide consortium of outsiders into the area code. Oakland's Korrosive were five gutter-punks who took over the small stage with what they call black metal crust punk. Philadelphia trio Die Choking played at a frenetic and furious pace. The group's singer Paul J. Herzog screamed into the microphone with a voice so deep and guttural it would keep the devil up at night.
The room filled up at 1 a.m. when the headliners D.R.I. began its sound check. The Houston quartet formed in 1982, way before much of the 305 Fest's audience (including the mosher in the banana costume) were born, but the crowd felt a strong connection to the thrash elder statesmen. When the opening chord was struck at 1:15 in the morning, the pit was open for business and crowd surfers were trampolined toward the ceiling.
Guitarist Spike Cassidy introduced the band in his New York accent with a "We're D.R.I. and we're here to kick your ass." Fellow original member, singer Kurt Brecht, who looked and acted much younger than his 54 years, rested his booming voice between songs, letting Cassidy explain what we were listening to. D.R.I. previewed the aggressive new song "Against Me," due to be released next year.
The song was celebrated by an audience that viciously fought stereotypes of what being in the 305 means. The Clevelander, this is not.
But Churchill's punk and metal shows are just as quintessential Miami — a tradition that shows no plans of ever changing its digits.