Hot Water Music will offer up a double dose this weekend, with shows tonight and Saturday night at Common Grounds.
The Gainesville-based post-hardcore quartet's music has always been difficult to categorize. In spite of its obvious punk inspiration, HWM's material transcends that genre, delving at times into rock, metal and even power-pop.
Formed in 1994 by singers/guitarists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard, bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo, the group has pretty much lived on the road for much of its existence.
Following five weeks in the studio perfecting "Caution," the group's most recent release on Epitaph Records, HWM immediately jumped aboard 2002's Warped caravan. Though still based in Gainesville, with a relentless tour schedule, HWM doesn't stay in any one place for too long.
"We don't operate in regular society anymore," Black said. "We're like carnies."
Tonight, the group - which takes its name from a book of short stories by one of my favorite writers, Charles Bukowski - is playing alongside Swayze. Saturday, HWM will share the bill with White Dove Frisbee Team.
The band is often likened to the highly revered D.C. hardcore outfit Fugazi. I'd have to agree with that. Of course, by that I don't mean to say HWM sounds like Fugazi, but most fans probably would agree the two bands are certainly in the same ballpark. And that's high praise indeed, if you ask me.
You want true endorsement? Local music icon Rob McGregor (Grain, The Moles, Lonesome Strangers, Tone Unknown) cited Hot Water Music as his favorite Gainesville band during an interview I did with Grain a few months ago. If you know Rob, you know he doesn't toss out that kind of compliment lightly.
Want more? How about this: The influential music magazine Magnet has proclaimed Hot Water Music as "the best punk band on the planet right now. No exceptions."
"Caution" has drawn a good amount of critical acclaim, and the band is more than satisfied with the end result.
"We definitely feel better about this record than anything else we've ever done," said Black, of the album, which was produced by Brian McTernan (Promise Ring, Texas Is The Reason). "It's definitely not a contrived type of thing, like some of the more mainstream 'punk' out there. I think the one thing that we hold to ourselves is that we've stuck to doing our own thing from the start."
Each show is $5, with tickets available at Smoke or at the door. I recommend you get your tickets ahead of time, if they haven't sold out already. Doors open at 9 p.m., or whenever Jay, Naomi or Nigel decide to open them. Common Grounds is at 919 W. University Ave. Look for the band vans parked on the street and the herd of pierced, tattooed kids smoking out front. You can't miss it.
Another great show tonight is over at Eddie C's, where Gate 22, Whatserface and Downpsychol will challenge the strength of the mains with a heapin' helping of hard-hitting sonic pleasure.
If you've never seen Gate 22, think Limp Bizkit meets The Misfits, with a little bit of Linkin Park, all tied together with a Southern flavor. (The band is, after all, from Ocala.)
Gate 22, which garnered the Best Unsigned Band in the Region at the Rock 104/Rolling Rock Battle Of The Bands in 2001, was formed in 2000 by Julius C. Mungia (vocals), Jws1 (guitars), and Dagonzil (bass).
Sadly, Julius was killed in a motorcycle accident later that year. Dagonzil left in 2002 to pursue other interests.
After a few months, the remaining members concluded that Julius would've wanted the band to persevere.
On its Web site (gate22band.com), the group tells the story:
"The fans of Gate 22 were proud the band kept on. The crowd is feeling it. The regulars shout obscenities at the conclusion of each song. They get rowdy and form mosh pits. They create that undeniable, undescribable atmosphere that exists solely at a rock concert. The band will stay true to their friends and, most importantly, the fans. Our goal is simple - we're focused on making good quality rock 'n' roll music."
Gate 22 has shared the stage with national acts including Crossbreed, Presence and Darwin's Waiting Room.
And current world events don't escape mention on the band's site.
"Gate 22 wants to thank all the troops fighting for our freedom over in Iraq," reads the opening page. "This is a trying time for all of us, and we need to realize how lucky we are to have freedom. Let's wish them a speedy victory and safe journey home."
Doors open at 9:30 p.m., with the music starting just after 10. Eddie C's is at 1315 S. Main St.
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