This past Saturday, punks from around Florida gathered in Downtown Miami to commemorate the final show at the Firefly.
Since 2006, the space has been a locus of the radical, activist-oriented South Florida punk scene, and it's demise is the product of an all-too-fitting corporate enemy: demolition at the hands of Braman Motor Vehicles to make way for a new car lot.
Despite the emotion inherent in witnessing the end of an institution, revelers turned out in full force (and good spirits) to pay their last respects.
After a few hours of hearty barbecuing and soaking up the winter-in-Miami weather (60 degrees, beautiful skies), festivities were underway with acoustic acts Ain't No Motherfucker and Paper Dolls.
Ain't No Motherfucker perform in the style of the folk-punk wave that surged in the early 2000s with the rise of Plan-It-X Records. Punk iconography and ideology shares a great deal of overlap with that of the mythological American Hobo, and the Motherfuckers performed an ol' timey Appalachian style complete with banjos and grates used as percussion. Throw in some gristly vocals and populist subject matter, and your folk has got a lil' riot in it. Paper Dolls, an acoustic guitar duo comprised of Firefly founders, performed a (situationally appropriate) sombre set of flamenco-tinged folk.
Once the unplugged acts had the crowd sufficiently warmed up, it was time to bring out the amps. And oh, how they roared ... Gorilla Pussy, an absurdly named three-piece led by major players in the forthcoming Chum Bucket venue, clocked in what may have been the best set of the weekend. GP go off like a time bomb hitting its final tick. The unit moves from frenzied grindcore-style blasts to youth crew two-step mosh parts to anthemically poppy breakdowns with masterful ease. They stop on a dime. The raw power of Gorilla Pussy's dynamic approach to powerviolence was reflected in the energy and intensity of the freshly erupted mosh pit, which churned and burned heartily through the following set by d-Beat/crust outfit, Eztorbo, right on through pop-punkers Sloane Peterson.
As was regularly the case during the Firefly's reign, the show was great until the cops came. About four songs deep into Sloane Peterson's set, the authorities arrived and shut down the event. It wasn't the closure the attendees were looking for. That closure came the very next day, as Firefly affiliates gathered for another impromptu, semi-secret finale. (Text messages promoting the show all emphasized that the event be kept off Facebook.)
Crow's Foot, a political screamo-crust hybrid from Tampa, opened Day 2 to a rabid crowd in the living room of the Firefly. The audience moshed to the butt-flap metal parts and bobbed its head to the minor-chord interludes. The main event for many was the reunion of Section 802, a long-running street punk band that pairs cut-and-dry politics with classic, belligerent punk instrumentals.
With Day 2 of the festivities completed, Firefly residents, affiliates, and allies were able to give their home base the tribute it deserved. As this era of Miami punk closes, the excitement lies in waiting to see what happen's next.
-- Matt Preira