Ghosts have to rock too? Maybe the New Year’s Eve downtown celebration wasn’t enough for a roaming spirit on the first night of 2011. Apparently, there is a picture floating around of a smoke filled Vinyl stage and the image of a face can be seen hovering in a cloud. If Casper the “rockin’ ghost” is into metal, rock, and old school punk, he was right at home this night.
I think this may be someone in the audience pulling a prank, but it wouldn’t go out of paranormal reason to believe that something is going on. The building that is now Vinyl Music Hall dates back to 1897. Personally, I don’t believe any paranormal activity is occuring and the only thing I saw go bump in the night were three awesome bands performing on the Vinyl stage.
Cockfight opened the night and raised a little hell for the spirits in the house. Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida have been longtime sister cities for underground music and the current lineup of CockFight is the offspring of a far from holy union. Mixing members from both cities, the boys of CockFight cooked the crowd in raw musical meat. Led by Ethan Manns (vocals/guitar), Christopher Cole (vocals, guitar), Roy H. Clark (vocals, guitar), Adam Looney (bass) and Michael Lane (drums) they laid down the incantation of rock for the spirits to come.
Jumping up second were local outfit, It Starts Today. This was my first time seeing them perform and it definitely won’t be my last. With a sound so heavy and hard, any spirit in the place was probably screaming to jump back into physical form so they could feel the weight of sound and power released by this local force. Propelled by daredevil, Justin Saxton (vocals) and fueled by Rob Kelemen (guitar, vocals), Randy Blackwell (bass, vocals), Tony Johnson (guitar, vocals), and Beau DeMilly (drums), the group moved a Vinyl crowd that included a very vocal It Starts Today following. At one time during their set, I heard a booming voice behind me declare “That’s my brother up there!” As I turned around, I saw the owner of the booming voice, dressed in matching green cap and shirt, rocking out with everyone gathered at the front of the stage. Saxton echoed the feeling of most hungry and talented local bands performing at Vinyl Music Hall when he told the crowd “For a local band like us, it’s cool to have a place like this to play.”
Headlining and immediately launching into their cover of the Chantays’ instrumental surf rock classic, “Pipeline” (Dick Dale released a cover of the same song in 1987 with blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughn) punk veterans Agent Orange guaranteed that every soul (living and otherwise) were going to have a good time tonight. Marking the second night of their current tour, Mike Palm (vocals, guitar), Perry Giordano (bass) and David Klein (drums) crashed their groundbreaking surf punk style onto the shores of Pensacola, Florida.
During the set, the trio were joined by guitar icon Laramie Dean, who honed his surf guitar skills studying under surf guitar pioneer, Dick Dale, as well as performing and touring with punk rock royalty (The Misfits, Fishbone, The Queers, Anti-Flag and more) ever since.
If there really was a ghost prowling around Vinyl Music Hall this night, it’s a safe bet that they had a rockin’ good time.
-Michael L. Smith