Intrepid music fans willing to brave an absolutely scorching afternoon in the Little Haiti sun were treated to the sixth incarnation of Sweatstock, beloved local shop Sweat Records' blowout in honor of its anniversary and Record Store Day.
Celebrating ten years in the biz, this year’s offerings for the annual block party were generous, diverse fun for the whole family. From a lineup of divergent acts spanning two venues to food trucks and record hunting, there were copious things to see and do to sate your inner audiophile. In no particular order, we present our favorite acts and moments from the all-day event.
The band took the stage in the mid-day sun to deliver a bombastic set of locked-in tunes that recall aesthetics from the heyday of new wave and goth rock. Echo and the Bunnymen-esque leads rang out from frontman Novy Graey, his voice occupying a space just a hair lighter than that era’s breathy baritones. We still got Manchester vibes from his interplay with drummer Emile Milgrim, a multifaceted staple of the indie community who, when not laying down metronomic beats, runs a local label, Other Electricities.
As we ducked into the shady digs next door at Churchill’s for some respite, we caught the whirring, aggressive beauty of the current version of Julia Jubinez’s Juju Pie project. Emoting lengthy, sprawling passages with her inimitable voice over a chaotic ramble reminiscent of peers like Talk Normal, the band shifts seamlessly from slow drone to no wave grind. Guitarist Bogdan Anderko provides the harsh, meaty undertones to propel Juju’s compositions into intriguing new terrain.
After a quick lap around the food trucks and bar, we settled upon the antics of local avant-pop group Pariuh, who are actually kind of hard to describe. Musically, they tread ground between carnival-esque prog and left-field pop with a spastic energy that recalls Tampa’s frenetic Yip-Yip, a technicolor barrage not unlike a metal band asked to play a birthday party for toddlers. Twin guitarists Adriano de Lorenzo and Jayan Bertrand pair well with Krystle Bruise’s keyboard bleats, all topped with drummer Chris Dougnac’s chipmunk-phased vocal theatrics.
DJ Alex Caso and Iggy Pop Interlude
Throughout the early afternoon’s festivities, local DJ Alex Caso stepped up to the decks to spin some '90s and aughts shoegaze records, fresh off another gig from Radioactive Records. When asked about his RSD hunting adventures, Caso told us it’d been an incredible turnout, with lines of people as early as 8 a.m. His favorite finds? “I got the Swans 12” and the Pulp reissues,” he beams. Shortly thereafter, none other than the Stooges frontman Iggy Pop could be seen pulling up to the Sweat lot in his black Rolls Royce, emerging to chat with pal Lolo Reskin and wade through the festival, taking pictures with admiring fans.
Plastic Pinks and Mr. Pauer
More wanton riffage drew us inside Churchill’s again, this time the racket of local garage punks Plastic Pinks. Emanating classic vibes and a beer-soaked carefree ethos, the band launched into caterwauling sing-alongs laden with sun-fried guitars and harmonies. Around the same time back out on the Sweat stage, Mr. Pauer dove into his refreshing blend of island rhythms, his signature “Electrópico” sound folding easily into the late afternoon air as denizens chatted and snacked.
The trio behind the gnarled metal of Wastelands loaded their amps and instruments onstage before launching into a giddy assault. Guitarist Alex Nunez injects elaborate shredding into the band’s jaunty compositions, his measured vocals contrasting with bassist Ale Campos’s acidic hiss. Unafraid to embrace full-on psychedelia or metallic prog alike, the trio simply sounds huge, and their presence felt right at home on the festival stage, looming over the crowd with outsized energy.
Local darkwave staple Brad Lovett, better known as Dim Past, ascended the stage to bathe the audience in his distinctive blend of chopped trap vocals, high-frequency stabs and gut-level bass. The lopsided compositions build in unexpected ways, slithering through an array of camouflage: straight-ahead minimal techno juts up against washes of bleak noise and disconnected rhythms, subverting expectations but imploring your limbs to move regardless. Lovett’s abstract ethos and appetite for noisy carnage form a welcome outsider voice in Miami’s electronic scene.
As the evening began to chill, we headed back inside for the riotous antics of Awkward Kisser. The band conjures up a noise-punk metal hybrid with a rollicking energy that recalls the late, great NYC band Drunkdriver. Driving rhythms, burnt screams, bassist Bootsie Castillo’s anthemic bass riffs, vocal chants filtered through a megaphone (while rolling on the dirty Churchill’s floor) — the band is in no short supply of enthusiasm or entertaining ideas. Likewise, the music, while heavy, is not leaden and has ample hooks and blistering vigor.
Remember 2004, when “dancepunk” was a real genre thanks to DFA stalwarts like LCD Soundsystem or the Rapture? Krisp does, and they took us back to those halcyon days with their bass-heavy set of electro-jams replete with husky vocal come-ons and squiggly synths. Their funky take on the forms of electro and pop are familiar without feeling well-trod, and they sound as full-bodied and eager to ignite dancefloors as ever.
The culmination of the outdoor festival was, naturally, a headliner that can draw in beat-heads and underground connoisseurs alike, Pennsylvania’s Tobacco. The duo of Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Thomas Fec and The Seven Fields of Aphelion took the stage to giddy applause, and wasted no time laying down their thick, smoked-out blend of extreme electro and hip-hop influenced production. Alarm-call synths chimed, vocoder vocals mutated and surged, and diced rhythms thudded and loped in sublime cacophony. Teen devotees freaked, adult aficionados bobbed heads, and somewhere a child was hoisted up onto their parent’s shoulders. The performance was a microcosm of the festival itself: uncompromisingly funky yet effortlessly inclusive, a crowd of any age could get down to this.