Sweatstock is for lovers.
Lovers of independent music and record stores, yes. But also lovers of drunken groping before the sun has fully gone down. A good chunk of the attendees of Sweatstock 2030 were conceived indoors (and out) this weekend, spurred on by a hurricane season clothing-optional dress code, some pretty solid drink specials, and the romantic sounds of sweetly strident pop, beachfront garage rock, and atonal punk.
Shortly before ending the set, ANR singer Michael John Hancock reflected on how 2013 marks 10 years of ANR as a band. Special for Sweatstock, ANR performed as an expanded seven-piece that included two backing vocalists (who also played violin and percussion) and in absentia, Miami fixture Rainer Davies on guitar.
In spite of receiving national acclaim, the Lemon City stalwarts remain one of the most polite bands Miami has ever produced. Even when keyboardist Brian Robertson shouted to the crowd, "You guys fucking rock!," he immediately apologized, saying, "Sorry for the profanity." Hancock took care to compliment his fans, "You're a beautiful crowd and I'm happy to look at you all the time," and encourage Sweatstockers to visit the record store hosting the whole affair, calling Sweat "our local merch table...everyone's local merch table."
ANR have been keeping a low profile as of late, sticking mainly to two main performances as a part of their residency at the Broken Shaker in North Beach. But their Sweatstock show included several new songs that hint towards an imminent announcement of the followup to 2011's Stay Kids. Exciting stuff, only enhanced by the fact that these guys use a fog machine like bosses. They make Yes and Rush look like a bunch of cub scouts rubbing twigs together.
This Heart Electric:
This Heart Electric was not just celebrating Sweat Records's eighth anniversary but also the drop of a new album, Age of Aquarius. Frontman Ricardo Guerrero announced that the recording is free to download, "so you can show it to your grandma or whatever," which is really messed up of him to say, because our grandma is dead. We might show it to the other one, though.
The merry band of jangle rockers played a tight set on the main outdoor stage, a mix of songs from the new release and old favorites. Guerrero opted to cover Tears for Fears's "Head Over Heels" rather than his own pale torso. (No tan lines, music fans!) And if there was any sort of aesthetic unity among this musically diverse edition of Sweatstock, it was shirtless men. At one point, even ANR had two completely shirtless men on stage and a third whose button down was completely undone.
We did not spot much in the way of sunblock application in between guitar solos and wonder what this means for the future of the Miami music scene if in a couple of decades, some of its key members begin to develop nonmelanoma lesions. Or even worse, start to look old.
And then back inside Churchill's there was Testökra, three women whose taunting and sneering punk rock tangled the floor with a deeper pit than nearly any other band during Sweatstock. To call what they inspired a circle pit would imply too much order; this was the kind of unorganized slaughter that Temple Grandin has dedicated her life to eliminating.
Amid the drummer's melody-shredding shrieks, however, there was a spirit of romance. In the audience, a gangly man with the vacant stare of one who has been beaten away with a shovel more than once in his life, danced with a squat woman whose tight white shorts were marked with (bloody? ketchup-y?) handprints. "I'm going to destroy it," he kept growling to her when they paused their making out long enough to breath and discuss whether or not he was going to destroy it.
Testökra's music is violent and reactive, kicking outward rather than looking in. It does not attempt to answer, say, what "it" had ever done to this strange and grabby man. But Testökra sings songs of vengeance, striking back at those in this world who would destroy a little piece of all of us.