Back in the 1970s, Jacksonville was the pinnacle of all things southern rock. Legendary greats like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, and 38 Special were, and still are, some of the greatest music to make its way out of the bold city.
The 90s saw a massive influx of hardcore and punk bands in North Florida. Groups such as Limp Bizkit, Yellowcard, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Evergreen Terrace all called Jacksonville home.
Venues such as Einstein a Go-Go and The Milk Bar were hotspots for the hardcore scene in Jacksonville, which is still one of the area’s most vibrant music scenes in North Florida today.
So what does the hardcore scene look like today?
Mike Ciero, a name you might remember from our article on South East Beast Fest, is an active participant in the hardcore/punk scene here in town. As a curator of many events, festivals, and even booking shows for Thee Imperial, Ciero has continued to watch the hardcore/punk scene develop over recent years.
Ciero feels that the area has always had a strong hardcore/punk scene, especially during the times of places like The Milk Bar or Moto Lounge, but that the scene had a bit of a falling out during the 00s, when he said many promoters began to steer away from the scene.
“Somewhere along the line, it seemed hardcore and punk weren’t exactly being welcomed by promoters … that’s why I got into booking,” Ciero said. “I always felt like in a small, weird way, we carried the torch for what The Milk Bar and the other venues had going strong at one point.”
Despite what many outsiders may think they know about the hardcore/punk scene, Ciero said the scene here is always about unity. Of course, there’s drama, but overall, he feels it is positive and healthy.
When asked where he felt the hardcore/punk scene would be in the next 5 to 10 years, Ciero replied, “I really feel Jax is on the map in the HC/Punk community. It has a serious foundation and is only growing stronger. I predict (and hope) there are a lot of people who have been and will be involved for years to come!”
Perhaps another of North Florida’s leading music scenes today is the indie-rock scene. Forerunners of this scene include indie-rock groups such as Black Kids and Electric President.
Mariah Johnson, a local musician who has been deeply embedded in Jacksonville’s indie scene in recent years, playing in several bands such as Woven In and Foreign Trade, feels that indie music has always been prevalent in our city, but many young people are just starting to take notice.
“The rise of the indie music scene is probably due to local radio broadcasts, indie music being played in new businesses and more musicians starting bands with that indie-feel,” Johnson said. “I think there are more bands than ever before in Jacksonville.”
The music scene in Jacksonville has always been a bit prickly, but as I have talked with various artists over the years, it seems most would agree the scene is friendly, with many artists supporting one another.
Johnson said the indie scene is pleasant overall, but there is always an underlying competition. After all, bands are competing for the same thing essentially.
“A lot of musicians help out the overall scene and show support through wearing other bands shirts, coming out to shows and ‘kickstarting’ their contemporaries music, which I find very admirable,” Johnson said. She added that she has found the city to be supportive, with venues being open to lots of different genres.
If Johnson could change one thing about Jacksonville’s indie scene, it would be that more people come out to shows, and not just their friend’s shows. In addition, she wants to see people stay after their friends play and check out all of the great talent that this city has to offer.