by Ora “Tre” Brasel
I found myself beaten, bruised and even a little bit bludgeoned recently after one crazy night of music at Landshark Cafe. The great performance from locals Whole Wheat Bread was enough to help me make it through the violence without noticing all of the battle damage that had occurred, at least until the music stopped playing. They were also gracious enough to sit down with me after their set and answer a few questions about what they had been up to lately. It was definitely a night that confirmed that Jacksonville can lay claim to being a legitimately hard-hitting city, both in a physical nature and in musical talent.
Arriving at Landshark around 9:30 pm I had missed a performance from Swordz, which was actually the act I was most interested in seeing aside from Whole Wheat Bread. This being my first visit to Landshark, it took me a minute or two to get acclimated with the environment, which is a rather strange one to see a punk-rock show in. Composed of many tables for dining, all placed pretty much from the front to the back of the place, the venue had 30 to 50 feet of space in front of the stage made to allow a medium crowd the opportunity to get up close to the bands. Once I got used to the layout, the first band I got to see was Running Rampant, who tried their hand at a mix of punk and rockabilly that had some potential, but wasn’t really a refined enough sound to leave much of a lasting impression with me on this particular evening. Next up was the Crazy Carls, who were a mix of surf rock and reggae that really failed to make much of mark with me whatsoever either. It just seemed to be a bit pale in its overall presentation, and I couldn’t find much about it to get me into any sort of groove. Store Bought Bones was the last opening band and was by far the one that made the best impression on me. They had a hard rock, metal sound that wasn’t quite what I expected from their appearance, but it was certainly worthy of giving a listen once I saw clearly what they were bringing to the plate, especially after the rather bland performances I had witnessed before them. It was a nice point to leave off on before Whole Wheat Bread took the stage, and if nothing else completed a very eclectic mix of local music.
We had finally arrived at the point of the night which everyone had been waiting for, but due to some sound issues there was a long delay, causing frustrations for the band and the audience. It took several minutes before the technical kinks were all worked out, and by then the band and the crowd were in a fever pitch to get the party started.
Whole Wheat Bread describe their sound as “dirty south punk rock,” a southern fried mix of hip-hop and punk. I honestly hadn’t seen a mosh pit as insane or violent in many years, but barely two songs into the show there was testosterone being flung in every direction with no regard for anything or anyone. It was during ‘Throw Your Sets Up’ when the crowd became an ocean of fists, elbows and at times even beer bottles, which were thrown at whoever was in the line of fire. Many of the more violent audience members appeared to have no consideration for anyone regardless of their size or sex. They actually seemed all the more inclined to just bulldoze people if they were smaller or weaker, even the tiny girls that gathered at the front of the stage. It was unfortunate that this was going on at the same time Whole Wheat Bread was delivering a precision-based performance that really made you want to have fun, and was hard to not love even despite getting hammered by huge individuals that seemed more interested in smashing into one another than actually appreciating the music.
Those of us there to actually enjoy the music somehow managed to survive through each song that was played, even the cover of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bulls On Parade,’ which was appropriate for the evening considering there were so many bulls in attendance causing destruction. Throughout the show we were treated to so many great songs from the band’s catalog including ‘Old Man Samson,’ ‘Feel Like S***,’ ‘Broke As F***,’ ‘Ode To Father,’ ‘Girlfriend Like This,’ and ‘Bombs Away,’ which all fueled everyone’s desire to hang in there regardless of just how beat up we actually were by this point. Will Frazier (bass, vocals) mentioned at the end of the night that when asked where on their tours they get the largest response he replies “Always Florida!” While it did get a bit out of hand at times, this hometown performance proved Will’s point- despite the brutality, fans dug down deep to stick it out to the end for the love of the music.
Over the last month Whole Wheat Bread has been touring throughout Florida and haven’t had any time to really come back home or work on any new music, but their loyalty to the First Coast remains as strong as ever. “I love coming back here!” Farzier said of their return to Jacksonville. Many of the bands from our fair city who end up getting some success seem to generally ignore their roots altogether, much less show love for it. When asked why Whole Wheat Bread still show such pride for all parts of Jacksonville in their song ‘Throw Your Sets Up,’ Aaron Abraham (guitar, vocals) said “That’s exactly why, because so many don’t give credit to being from here, so we like to give shout outs to all parts of the city, so no one says, hey they didn’t shout out my part of town, so they like that they are given respect too.” Frazier also made mention of how Yellowcard wasn’t able to sell out a venue when they came back here, possibly because they didn’t want to acknowledge that they were actually from here originally, and that WWB didn’t want to do anything to turn their back on where they were from themselves. When questioned about whether the size of their crowds have grown over the last few years in Jacksonville or if there has always been a consistent fan base, Abraham said, “Both actually, it has grown a bit, but we have always had a fairly large fan base here… The crowds have certainly gotten much rowdier, like girls are getting pushed down a lot more now.”
It was a really nice experience to get to sit down with a talented and likable band that is proud of their hometown, despite growing ever more popular throughout the U.S. and Europe. They haven’t forgotten where they are from, and still continue to give plenty of love to us here on the First Coast.
Whole Wheat Bread at Landshark Cafe 7/31/09
by Ora “Tre” Brasel