Scenior Citizen Pop-Punk Anniversary

When I pulled into Tough Times for Scenior Citizen Podcast’s birthday celebration, I forgot that we still lived in South Florida and that I was actually not late. In fact, I was earlier than most bands on the lineup. Immediately I made my way over to meet Vicky Salas, the genius behind the Scenior Citizen Pod and gave her my well-wishes (after all, we were celebrating her birthday along with her project). 

I made my way inside and explored the playground that is Tough Times. As a first (tough) timer, of course I made my way across the bar. Despite being relatively empty at the early hour at 8pm, you can tell exactly what kind of crowd this place draws in. It’s got the attitude of Pompano Beach’s best kept secret. Had I spent more time there after the show, the colorful, intimate patio space they built out back would’ve been my refuge as I let the performances sink in. Later in the evening, as the bands started getting ready to play, they each found ways to decorate the stage to make it more homey, in the DIY pop-punk sense, mostly using LEDs and banners with the band’s name. Safe to say, I was more than ready to see what the night would bring. 

Sophomore Year had the tough act of opening up the night and they delivered with flying results. The crowd was moshing, the lead was wailing into the mic, and I was even called out for not participating in the singing (in my defense, I had no clue what any of the lyrics were) and who could forget their cover of “My Own Worst Enemy”. But during this first set, everyone’s attention fell on the band’s drummer who was playing like their life depended on it. In all my years seeing local acts, I’ve never seen a drummer, or musician for that matter, who felt like they were completely and utterly bursting at the seams during their set. It was akin to the energy Miles Teller brought in the final scene of “Whiplash”. This drummer easily and effortlessly became the star of the show. Still, the whole band gave their all and those in the audience felt it. Beyond their stage presence, Sophomore Year played their latest single “Sunk” live for the first time, and what a gift it was. Their latest track is a powder keg of good ol fashioned pop-punk (misery) business. It had all of the essential elements: Wishing someone ill, rotting in loneliness, and a killer chorus. Ultimately, the entire set was a delight for every pop-punk lover. Sophomore Year truly set the scene for the rest of the night to come. 

The second act of the night, despite not quite going according to the band’s plan, still exhibited the full range that pop-punk is capable of. When Manic Frequence got onstage, the one-night-only acoustic duo shared that their drummer was at home getting over a sickness (they blasted the poor guy’s voice memo over the mic as proof). Regardless, the set was stellar and took me back to the nights where I would exclusively listen to acoustic versions of Green Day and All Time Low tracks. The band, in reimagining their setlist to fit the lack of a drummer, allowed the two guitarists to play around with their songs. So many times during their set I was taken by the little signals that the two shot each other. Some moments it was clear that one was going off-script and adding their own spice to the song, other times it was to get each other on cue for the bridge. Whatever it was, it was golden. Anytime I caught a glimpse of it I felt like I was in on a dirty little secret. Not to mention, their lyricism and vocal performances demanded attention. The angst and yearning in the song’s imagery and atmosphere grabbed you by the shoulders and asked, “hey remember me?” To anyone who believes that all pop-punk sounds the same, I present this set as a counterpoint.

Finally, That Band Rumors came around to bring the show to a close, but by the time they finished up, all they did was leave the crowd wanting more. Bringing the crowd back up to moshing energy, they opened with the pop-punk anthem: “The Anthem”. It was clear that the lead was there to give the audience a show they wouldn’t forget. The unique blend of classic pop punk paired masterfully with a heavier sound was reflected perfectly both in the actual lyrics of the original tracks as well as in the lead singer’s vocals. Frankly, it got me a little jealous that I can’t scream and wail with that much energy and life. They truly brought the house down but the moment that everyone is going to take with them is when Vicky was invited on stage to close out the night singing “Misery Business”. The energy on stage was dreamy, it felt like it was ripped straight out of a 2014 tumblr self-insert fanfic. That Band Rumors felt like a bow wrapping up the entire evening; their infectious energy made me want to confidently scream every lyric to their songs, despite knowing only a handful. In all honesty, this band was the perfect closer, rounding out the vibrancy and mythic power by taking you to pop-punk heights only previously theorized. 

Scenior Citizen is a phenomenal project, not just in showcasing the wide array of talent in the South Florida DIY scene, but in quite literally providing a stage for these bands to perform in and share their art. There’s something so deeply encouraging in the fact that our scene is alive and well but also that it matters enough that people can create entire initiatives to document its existence. Vicky, as well as countless others at local shows, demonstrate just how essential the exhibition of these bands and their stories are. Being able to historicize this particular cultural zeitgeist and how fun, explosive, and frankly ridiculous it can be reinforces that it doesn’t take some big honcho record deal guy to prove that good music exists. All it takes are some cool people and venues ready to put on a good show. And truly, what’s more punk than that?

Happy Birthday Scenior Citizen Pod. Here’s to many more.

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