Today Is the Day at Churchill's Pub in Miami, September 8

See also "Today Is the Day's Steve Austin on Living in the F#$%ed-Up South and Being 100-Percent Real."

Today Is the Day

With Maruta, Shitstorm, Orbweaver, Ironside, Cardiel

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Churchill's Pub, Miami

Saturday, September 8

Better Than: Not seeing Today Is the Day because South Florida is long and faraway from everywhere else.

Miami fly-in-date specialist, Speedfreak Presents, has been provinding Miami with rare, one-off performances by notable metal, hardcore, and stoner acts for several months now. And Saturday night at Churchill's Pub was host to yet another band that otherwise might never have played the 305 again.

Eclectic Nashville metal band Today Is The Day was welcomed to Sir Winston's by a crowd of excited fans, many of whom have not had an opportunity to see the band perform in years. If ever at all.

Following the trend of other Speedfreak events, Saturday's show featured a smattering of local favorites and an evening of bowel-shaking aggression that exploded into the streets of Little Haiti, scaring the ever-loving shit out of the packs of stray dogs and "parking attendants" that roam about the area.

Opening the show was a Broward-based group, Ironside, which is one part hardcore punk, one part death metal, and one part professional wrestling promo vid. The best description of Ironside was overheard in the dusty bastion of philosophical glory that is Churchill's parking lot: "Your band sounds like Crowbar at the buffet."

The band is led by Joshua "Chip" Shomburg, also known as the guy that has filmed every show from Miami to Gainesville in recent memory, and the bassist for local doom band Ether. Shomburg stalked the stage as the band played fuzzy, detuned overtures of chunk. The frontman emptied water bottles over his head. He pretended the mike stand was a shovel. And he excelled at being generally intimidating.

Next came avant-garde metal band Orbweaver, featuring former members of Hate Eternal and Gigan, mixing death metal with completely outlandish sonic twists and spacial musings. Often dissonant and angular, Orbweaver's guitarists and bassist spend as much time manipulating effects pedals as they do assaulting their instruments. The audience was extremely intrigued. Not exactly surprising considering headliner Today Is the Day's penchant for weird soundscapes and oddball structuring.

At one point during the band's set, Orbweaver frontman Randy Piro broke a string on his Gibson Explorer, which briefly halted the group's sputtering maelstrom of noise. But while Piro left the stage to seek out another guitar, Orbweaver's remaining members reacted by jumping into an impromptu cover of Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher," led by lead guitarist Sally Ride.

After Orbweaver exited, Miami's own Shitstorm proceeded to bulldoze Churchill's crowd. As the band (featuring Torche's rhythm section) let loose its first few volleys of subsonic grindcore, the crowd congregated at the foot of the stage to head-bob and fist-pump. As fans played air-drums to Rick Smith's blast beats, it looked as though the front row was having a communal seizure. Late in Shitstorm's set (toward the six-minute mark to be exact), crowd-surfing and pillar-climbing finally occurred, and all was right in the world of aggressive Miami music. The set was over in under 10 minutes, for the record.

While Shitstorm was playing, a duo from Venezuela named Cardiel was setting up on the patio. The band played to a small crowd of rapt fans, sounding somewhat like the instrumental bits of early Soundgarden mixed with the fuzzier side of Fu Manchu. Vocals, when present, were gravelly shouts. As the young woman on stage beat her drums, other young women in the audience shook their hair and danced around. The group was a surprise addition and made for a nice, less aggressive intermezzo before Today Is the Day finally destroyed the main stage.

Band leader Steve Austin and company stood before the audience as an introduction of evil-sounding classical music played over the pub's speakers. The contrast between classical music and the initial onslaught of metal was staggering. Then Today Is the Day blasted wave after wave of gnarly riffs and hits as the crowd pulsed in approval. Claws were held to the sky, necks were abused, and faces contorted as onlookers sang-along to Austin's ever-changing howls.

Today Is The Day's style is as dynamic as it is violent, and it was easy to see why Austin has been described as "misunderstood": his stage persona was intense, and the unbridled aggression he put into his singing and guitar playing was almost painful to watch. Drummer Curran Reynolds and bassist Ryan Jones followed suit, bolstering the manic frontman in his pursuit of sonic insanity.

The highlight of the group's set came with a period: a fan called out for the song "Death Curse" twice, and was answered by Austin growling "Death Curse" back into the mic. The moment was one of those rare times when a shouted requested was met with acceptance and made for a fine end to the group's set.

Closing out the evening -- as Miami and Broward's favorite noise artists twisted knobs out on the patio -- was the rebooted (for one night only) Maruta. The grind band's set elicited the most movement from the crowd all night. Fans and friends of the mostly defunct local act started a circle pit and lost their shit as Maruta's destructive sounds swept over Churchill's in a crusty cloud of filth.

A triumphant way to end the night, indeed.

Critic's Notebook

Overheard: "Thanks for the Shitstorm" -- Cardiel before playing on the patio

Random Detail: The common ground between Miami's noise scene and grindcore scene is a fine little sonic isthmus leading to the patio.

Personal Bias: Casola's Pizza should open where that Walgreen's on NE Second Avenue is located.

-- David Von Bader

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