11-1 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24; 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday, Aug. 25 | Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave. | willspub.org | $12-$15
The first spark for the Central Florida Punk and Hardcore Festival occurred when Unified Records Booking's Garrett Elkins recognized an encircling demand for community as well as diminishing attendance at shows. That was last year. This year, the Central Florida Punk and Hardcore Festival has graduated from last year’s takeover of the Elks Lodge and migrated to Will’s Pub, turning the Mills Avenue dive into the epicenter of Florida DIY for one weekend. Unified Records, our most dependable punk-rock booking machine, is again behind the all-ages festival and pushing it further by doubling the acts.
Now it’s two days, 46 bands, and a show schedule overheated with enough pop punk and melodic hardcore to melt your jean vest off.
With the shows now spread over the weekend and a centrally located venue, organizer Elkins is keeping positive about the turnout and – no doubt informed by how the Fest operates in Gainesville – he’s adopting a familiar strategy for managing the oversold event: “We oversell it, so when somebody leaves Will’s, someone will go in. If you want to see the bands, you better get in there!”
Part of the Orlando scene for more than 16 years, Elkins sees this festival as a way to encourage new generations to discover the music their peers are creating and playing out locally: “[A show is] a safe place for the kids to come out and be part of a community that’s supportive of like-minded people.”
A quick and motley schedule of 20-minute sets juxtaposes punk rock from Teen Agers with ambient shoegaze from the Caution Children. Fest-goers are exposed to grrlpunk from the Areolas or the melodic post-hardcore of Henrietta, as the lineup staggers bright local gems among greater Florida favorites.
Elkins had difficulty naming the acts he deems unmissable, but narrows down his top five:
“Frameworks – they’re really energetic post-hardcore. They’re fantastic dudes that make wonderful music. Fero Lux from down south near Miami – they’re kind of chaotic hardcore like Dillinger Escape Plan. Old Habits, from West Palm. They have a new album coming out, and they’re really, really good. Old Again – they’re getting quite big around here. The fifth band is from Tallahassee, called Send Away Stranger. They’re kind of that twinkly You Blew It!/Dikembe emo. I’m really excited to see them play, personally.”
Though the Unified Records name was in the recent past revived for booking and promoting shows, it was originally, as the name suggests, a label for punk and hardcore compilations. With a soft spot for the perfect mix, Elkins assembled a collection of his favorites from each of the bands in the festival.
Listening to his most recent compilation on the label’s Bandcamp page (unifiedrecords.bandcamp.com) is a pre-fest must if you’re heading out.
“I feel like there’s a great scene in Central Florida, not just Orlando,” he says. “There’s a lot of people that don’t really know about the local bands. It’s a good way to boost the scene and make people more aware of what’s going on in their home.”
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