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Cruising Where No Festivalgoer Has Cruised Before

written by: on February 21, 2012

The second Bruise Cruise shoved off Feb. 10 from Miami. The lineup included The Dirtbombs, Fucked Up, Thee Oh Sees, and Quintron and Miss Pussycat—among many others. Pop ‘stache sent punk veteran Aaron Pylinski on the high seas to infiltrate the floating festival.

Captain’s Log: February 10, 2012, Miami.

The seas are calm and the sun is out, a perfect setting for a cruise littered with longhaired music lovers and musicians. Though it is February, the weather is surprisingly warm and as the ship starts to roll past South Beach, the music starts to billow from the Xanadu Room on the cruise ship, Carnival Inspiration.

For once I was right on describing to someone a band that was about to perform. “They are this bad ass punk band from back in the early ’90s,” I said. “If you want fucking loud, you’re about to get loud.” When Mick Collins’ guitar and gritty voice cut the ribbon on the Bruise Cruise, the Detroit natives The Dirtbombs began rumbling the back of the ship and got things started right.

They didn’t relent when they brought a powerful set of blues-y punk rock that was teeth chattering and capable of “unexpected pregnancies”, which was an apparent concern of the folks from Panache, who were putting on the Bruise Cruise. That explained the three rubbers that were in the gift bags.

The Dirtbombs were the best icebreaker for a punch-in-the-face good time aboard this flotilla of debauchery. The unexpected stench of rough sex permeated through the air as the hour-long set was drawing to a close. For their encore, they played a newer riff that is on the Bruise Cruise split 7-inch and one of their two drummers, Ben Blackwell, took his kit into the crowd and played while a frothing mass of fans encircled him.

The Dirtbombs are only a handful of garage bands today that can hold a candle to these noisemakers from the Motor City and most of them are on the ship. Thee Oh Sees rounded off the evening as the ship got out to open seas. There was no shortage of raunchy, fast music for a mixed bag of East Coast, West Coast and Midwest music lovers. Rev your engines, buoys and gulls; the Bruise Cruise is under way.

Captains Log: February 11, 2012, Nassau, Bahamas

After a day of tooling around the island on a super sweet scooter, it was time for libations and getting riled up for a long night of kicking ass and taking names. Before we parked our hog, we stopped for food. As I was dropping the kickstand, John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees comes barreling down on me with his feet out and stops to within inches of me. I ask him how he’s doing and he loudly replies, “Fucked up! You?”

The real fun was starting a little later at Senior Frogs where a handful of garage rockers were set to take the stage.

The first in the chute was The Togas. After slapping them all consecutively in the chest as I left the bathroom, Ty Segall, Philip Sambol of the Strange Boys, Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams and Lance Wille of the Reigning Sound took the stage for a myriad of mod songs that drew all the hip kids. Slurring through song after song, Segall and the rest of The Togas jumped into a mini set of covers from back in the day.

They started with “I Think We’re Alone Now” but with a grimier twist. Running distorted guitars through the song, it was an interesting take on a kitschy ’60s bubble gum ditty. They also played “Runaway” which is an old doo-wop song made popular by Del Shannon. For something a little more popular and not in serious need of any retooling, The Togas tackled The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night.”

The Togas were an excellent warm up for the rest of the evening. Between sets, whistles littered the air at Senior Frogs as stage workers were tossing glow necklaces in the crowd.

The Soft Pack took the stage and gave everyone a Buzzcock-sounding set. They rolled through their set list dropping a psychedelic-fused, new wave punk sound that could easily brand them as the new Gang of Four or even The Cure. Not that “Monday I’m in Love,” touchy-feely bullshit; we’re talking more of a “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” or “Killing an Arab” kind of vibe.

Capping off the evening was a hard-hitting, piercing set from Toronto’s own Fucked Up. With a name like that, there was no reason why they shouldn’t have headlined the festival. The stage was too small for the band, but especially small for lead screamer Damian Abraham who took to the bar to writhe through a couple of songs.

The hip kids who were enjoying The Togas and The Soft Pack got stranded in the mosh pit and found themselves being tossed about like lifeboats on the sea. It was all in good fun and though there were plenty of 90-pound kids being pushed around effortlessly, Fucked Up banged out a killer set. The drunken and sweaty fans staggered back to the ship to sleep off a long day of pounding Bahamian beers and shots of rum.

Captains Log: February 12, 2012, Atlantic Ocean

The last day on the ship included a long set from Quintron and Miss Pussycat. They played a rhythmic, pulse-pounding melee of music in the Xanadu Room on the ship and played to a capacity crowd. As they left the stage, Vockah Redu (Javocca Davis) started an all-out dance party in the crowd that morphed into a stage invasion. There is no questioning the ease of playing a crowd when the band is only two feet higher than the crowd.

King Khan and the Shrines played the last set of the cruise. Their big band sound coupled with King Khan’s eccentric attire made up for the shoddy sound system that must have ultimately shit the bed under all that rhythm and blues. Though their set was cut short, they did manage to roll through some excellent tunes trading off ’50s doo-wop for a punk, R&B fusion.

There were plenty of antics as guitarist and bass player, Mr. Speedfinger and Boom Boom Jennes, respectively, rolled out into the crowd for an intimate jam session with fellow Bruise Cruisers. The set was dynamite ending with King Khan saying, “Yeah, fuck this Carnival shit.” The perfect punk-style send off for a killer punk fest.