Playing Around


And kicking and flailing


Jax Surf Fest II was six long hours dedicated to surf rock that I thought would never end. Seven bands, both local and national, played their own version of the classic Dick Dale genre, most of them pretty standard represenatations of the genre, sticking to the typical mold of surf-rock: a 4/4 rhythm and a fast tempo. Although technically talented, their sounds tended to run together after awhile. 

Jacksonville locals The Crowkeepers went on while the sun was still shining. There was hardly an audience this early, but they played like there was one. Full of energy, but not too much. It was very fitting of typical surf music. The second band, Tidal Wave, a three-piece from Tampa, started things off much faster, bending chords, and strumming more chaotically. "Are you ready for a beach party!?" shouted the lead singer, and then played their most popular song "Beach Party." It sounded like a party on the beach or something.

There are long breaks between each band. Too long. Everyone takes forever to set up, and they all have their own gear. The only thing to keep the audience entertained between sets is a merch table with skateboards up for raffle.

The Surge is the band that takes the stage when an audience starts to funnel in. Lead guitarist Eddie Katcher is known in surf rock circles as a legend, and a veteran of the Atlanta surf music scene. A smile is on Katcher's face the whole time, perfectly in tune with the other three members. They perform in uniform, red shirts and all with greying hair. They break up their set of originals with a lively rendition of "Hotel California," which the crowd immediately recognizes. It was a welcome surprise, and the band pulled it off well. 

Another Atlanta-based band, MOONBASE, takes the stage and offers thanks to their predecessors: "Eddie Katcher is my hero. I wouldn't be standing on this stage if I hadn't met him." They had more of a punk sound, focusing on loud drums. But then it was back to the same old traditional sound again with the Novarays. Their motto was "SURF MUSIC FOR THE MASSES" and kept saying things like "Squiddaleeey didddleeeey," before breaking into a traditional song. Squiddaley diddaly indeed. 

Finally at the end of the night, the last bands, The Mystery Men and Kill Baby Kill, were a little more progressive, or at least a little more interesting. After a night of traditional, somewhat safe music, it was strange to see a group of men dressed in black and creepy clear masks taking the stage. I guess that explains the name "The Mystery Men." And they were a mystery. They didn't speak to the audience, just let a recorded track of a strange voice do the talking. 

The headliner, Kill Baby Kill were super energetic and a lot younger, sounding more surf punk than surf rock. They had that same surf riff that was prevalent in all of the the other bands' music — that kind of riff you think of when you hear "surf rock" with an urgency like you're about to race and then spiral out of control — but with more of an aggressive edge. 

After the show, I sat down next to Bill Sims, the The Crowkeepers guitarist and curator of the event, and asked him how he felt when it was over. He told me the night was proof that surf rock never died. This was true. It was definitely alive that night, and there was a unifying bond that was in the air, as each of the bands watched and supported each other.

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I hope this article is a joke. Even more, I hope the writer is 12 years old. It's the only explanation for such terrible writing as well as a severe lack of understanding for the subject matter. Very, very disappointing. Wednesday, July 23, 2014|Report this


Jax Surf Fest II was held on July 19, 2014 at The Underbelly, a bar in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. The event featured seven musical ensembles performing surf music. Michaela Gugliotta’s account of Jax Surf Fest II appeared on on July 23, 2014. Ms. Gugliotta, an editorial intern at Folio Weekly since May 2014, wrote an account that contains some factual inaccuracies and lingual vagueness.

Ms. Gugliotta refers to the seven bands as a mix of “local and national” performers. The connotation of “national” is misleading, even if the denotation is not. All seven groups were from the tri-state area (Florida, Georgia, Alabama). A few lines later, Ms. Gugliotta incorrectly claims that surf music is based off of a “4/4 rhythm.” 4/4 is a time signature, and not a rhythm, a subtle but important distinction for the musical cognoscenti.

Then Ms. Gugliotta begins to describe each individual band. She paradoxically writes The Crowkeepers were “full of energy, but not too much.” This is an unclear and confusing statement, devoid of meaning. Shortly afterward, she describes the song Beach Party as “a party on the beach,” a description that is more a reworking of the title than it is an actual description. No further prose is devoted to describing the song, leaving us obtuse as to Ms. Gugliotta’s true feelings.

While detailing the set breaks in-between the bands, Ms. Gugliotta writes “the only thing to keep the audience entertained between sets is a merch table with skateboards up for raffle.” Setting aside how entertaining a skateboard may or may not be, let’s examine this statement, which is factually incorrect. Setting aside the rather high entertainment quotient provided by personal smartphones or personal conversation, and focusing only on what the event itself was offering, patrons also had the option to enjoy beverages from The Underbelly. (Tangentially, it is worth mentioning that Ms. Gugliotta never identifies The Underbelly as the host of this event.) Other bands also had merch tables, including (at least) Tidal Wave and the NovaRays. Based on this evidence, Ms. Gugliotta did not accurately report the entertainment that was available between sets.

Now, let’s return to the bands. The NovaRays didn’t get a fair shake. Firstly, their home city, Orlando, was not mentioned in the article, an especially egregious error given that the other six ensembles were given that privilege. Describing a phrase close to the heart of bandleader Lewis Bailey, Ms. Gugliotta proclaims “Squiddaley diddaly indeed.” Much like the Beach Party comment, this carries extremely vague editorial intent. Like the previous example, it is very difficult to discern a positive or negative opinion of the phrase “Squiddaley diddaly” by saying only the word “indeed,” and when an author’s stance is unclear, a reasonable argument could arise that the author has written a poor editorial.

After the event concluded that night, Ms. Gugliotta recounts how she talked with Bill Sims, the event organizer and a participant with The Crowkeepers. However, a direct quote from Mr. Sims does not appear in the article, leaving a reasonable doubt as to whether the sentence “He told me the night was proof that surf rock never died” is the opinion of Mr. Sims, or the opinion of Ms. Gugliotta. In order to leave no room for doubt, those words should have appeared in quotation marks. Otherwise, they cannot be concretely attributed to Mr. Sims.

Sticking only with the facts and analyzing the written text, Michaela Gugliotta has given an inconsistent and unclear characterization of a musical gathering. Regardless of her stance on Surf Fest II, whether it be positive or negative, that stance should be backed up by impeccable facts and eloquent prose, all in the interest of setting an airtight, strong, well-informed, and definitive write-up for readers of Folio Weekly to enjoy. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, readers were subjected to a large amount of obfuscation. Friday, July 25, 2014|Report this