The beast is coming…

Thanks to the master plan of Mike Ciero and Rory McCoid, Jacksonville is about to get its first underground music festival.

After leaving New York to come to Jacksonville in the mid-90s, Ciero worked for Imperial Booking, bringing in shows that appealed to the hardcore, metal and punk communities. McCoid, who has lived in the city on and off for 20 years, has been booking shows throughout Florida for the last decade. To say these two have been heavily involved in the music world is an understatement, but neither Ciero nor McCoid have ever curated anything to quite this scale.

Here’s the lowdown on their upcoming festival, straight from the source.

  • Mike Ciero – I did booking and promotions for a number of years with Imperial Booking. Mostly had shows at Thee Imperial until it closed and we expanded to other venues and cities. A lot of the shows we did appealed to the hardcore, metal and punk communities but we certainly didn’t stay with those genres. After stepping down from doing shows, Rory, whom I’ve had history with, took the torch and [then he] ran with it.
  • Rory McCoid – I have been booking for close to 10 years now. I currently work with a dozen venues throughout the state of Florida. Prior to, and during the 10 years, I spent time in the Air Force.

How long have you guys lived in Jacksonville? What were you doing musically before getting the idea for SEBF? Any other experience with festivals or concerts?

  • Mike – I moved from New York to Jax in the mid-nineties. I got involved with working at music stores, venues and working with bands. It all evolved into eventually running Thee Imperial and keeping the calendar full. I’ve been involved with putting together a ton of music events but nothing on this level.
  • Rory – I have lived in Jacksonville on and off for 20 years. I started going to concerts when I was 10. I have done several hundred events at this point and have dealt with festivals in the past to raise money in the name of a friend that passed away.

Describe how you guys got the idea for SEBF. Why Jacksonville?

  • Mike – I had been toying with the idea for a while before actually putting it into effect. There are so many great music festivals around the country and even in our own backyard. Welcome To Rockville, Big Ticket, Blues Fest, Funk Fest etc. They’re all great events and I attend as many as I can. Of course there is The Fest in Gainesville and FYA Fest in Orlando (that just happened this past December)…but otherwise down south, and especially Jacksonville, there really hasn’t been anything to cater towards a more underground music event inclusive of the assortment of artists that we targeted and I felt like that needed to change. Jacksonville is the perfect location to host something like Southeast Beast as it’s in the middle of Miami and Atlanta and not too far from other cities throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. I had bought the idea to Rory and he was 100 percent in.
  • Rory – As Mike said, he wanted to do something to represent the Southeast Region, and there really aren’t any larger festivals that bring underground bands together in this area.

How do you go about contacting all these bands and getting big names to perform?

  • Mike – Rory did a majority of the leg work on getting the bands. He has an amazing reputation with these artists and agents. He has grown with and continued to work with them as they’ve gotten more success.
  • Rory – It was sort of a perfect storm. All the bands either had plans of already coming through the area or when I reached out to their agents we were able to work out an agreement and the bands were available.

Briefly describe the process of setting up a brand new festival. What all goes into it?

  • Mike – Wow, that’s a loaded question. Of course first off we had to lock in the venue and go over specifics of how we would need to use the different rooms (there are 4 of them). We are lucky to have access to a complex that allows for this sort of thing. Then of course there is the process of lining up bands and coordinating who would be a good idea to play and if it makes sense financially. Also we have about 20 regional bands and there is a lot involved with keeping up with all of them. So far we’ve been lucky as the bands have all been very proactive and great to work with. No one is taking anything for grant it and know that we’re in this together working towards a common goal. There are sponsors and vendors to coordinate with and how they will set up and in what capacity they will take part in the event. We’ll have food trucks on hand as well. There is a sizable staff to manage that will be working the event as well from sound guys, to runners, to security, etc. There are a lot of timely tasks that require close attention such as artwork, social media updates, promoting at other concerts, etc etc.

How has it been trying to set something like this up in Jacksonville? Is the city supportive?

  • Mike – As I was saying earlier Jacksonville, geographically is great, that’s a given.  Beyond that a lot of people who have been part of the scene have been very supportive but what caught me off guard are the people who we hadn’t dealt with in the past that have shown support in some sort of capacity. There really hasn’t been anyone that doesn’t want this to succeed. Of course some people have more interest than others but overall as a whole this city has shown some level of excitement. The response has been very positive and I see that as a direct sign of growth for this city. Growth directly triggered by people like the promoters responsible for Welcome To Rockville, Big Ticket, One Spark, Art Walk (downtown and at the beach). Things like The Elbow (Burro Bar, 1904, Underbelly etc etc), Shad Khan and the Jags, Bold City Brigade, Teal Street Hooligans, Jax Truckies, you guys at Void all are contributing to making this city exciting and relevant! A city that we can all be proud of. We’re looking to make moves on assisting with that growth.
  • Rory – We’ve had great feedback thus far. We’re proud of our city and the support it’s provided.

How did you decide on the venue and the general genre for the bands?

  • Mike – The venue was a no brainer. The complex houses four very sizable venues all under the same roof and all with great stages. We were able to set it up   to were there are 3 rooms where the bands will play and 1 main room specifically for stuff like band merch, vendors, bag checks, lounge area, etc etc. The side of the venue has plenty of space for food and an area for people to relax outside for a little bit if they like.
  • As far as the genres of the bands it’s easiest for me to explain the Hardcore element involved first and foremost. Hardcore is something I have always been a part of since I was listening to music. Hardcore represents more than just the music but it’s a community. For me personally it was my first true love and by far the most consistent throughout my life. I have a passion for music as most of us do and I sincerely am a rabid fan of most genres from Country to Indie to Metal to Hip Hop to Jazz, etc etc but Hardcore has always been about something different, something more. So there was no way I could of avoided having Hardcore as a major focus of Southeast Beast!  From the original inception of the fest the concept was Hardcore, Metal and Punk! It was an idea of an underground united. It grew beyond just those genres and couldn’t be more happy about it.
  • There are so many boundaries that get blurred when you think about those genres. They really do overlap in so many ways and all intertwine. So many bands appeal to such a wide range of people nowadays. It may not sound like it makes sense but having an acoustic act like Front Porch Step play with an aggressive and in your face band like Terror on the same fest is normal to me. I am a fan of both just as so many other people are. It creates a balance and diversity that somehow all ties in together!
  • Rory – A vast majority of the bands that are playing are artists I have worked with for quite sometime. We all have a common ground in the genre of bands playing and it’s really what made the most sense.

Do you plan to make this a recurring festival or just a one-time show?

  • Mike – We plan on this being an annual festival.We already have ideas for next year that we’ll start working on very soon not to mention other events that are currently in the works.

Last Thoughts:

  • Mike – We hope that everyone keeps an eye out for the up and coming artists that are playing Southeast Beast. We feel confident that a lot of these bands will be much more successful at this time next year and just as we’re hopeful to be part of the growth process for Jacksonville we hope to be part of the growth for a lot of these younger artists playing the fest. We want to thank you guys for doing this article on Southeast Beast. Void does so much for this city and we’re happy to be recognized by your publication!

Thoughts from bands playing at SEBF:

Jonathan Anastas – DYS

1) What made you decide to perform in Southeast Beast Fest?
Southeast Beast represents all the things we love to support: entrepreneurial scene-focused promoters/hardcore supporters, that great music and great bands and an engaged audience can come together and do something amazing anywhere, be it Jacksonville Florida or a field in Belgium and hardcore/heavy music as a positive movement. 
2) What do you hope people will take away from the festival?
You want it, you support it, you have passion for it, you get it!  There is a huge variety in the type of bands playing, a huge variety in music, what brings us all together is a great attitude.

Dylan Ponce – Engraved/Thick As Blood

1) What made you decide to perform in Southeast Beast Fest? 
The lineup is insane. Every band has something to offer and with such a diverse and exciting lineup it was impossible to pass up the opportunity.
2) What do you hope people will take away from the festival?
I hope people take away a sense of belonging. To come from a different city or even a different state and be under the same roof with like minded individuals is what drew me to shows in the first place all those years ago. Seeing bands you love or for the very first time and making friends is waht it’s all about.

Brad Moxey – Evergreen Terrace

1) What made you decide to perform in Southeast Beast Fest?
I think it’s important for our scene to come together to show these touring acts that Jacksonville is a place worth stopping at.
2) What do you hope people will take away from the festival?
I hope people can take away a feeling of pride in Jacksonville and the city packing out the show and going nuts.

Mike Davis – We Still Dream

1) What made you decide to perform in Southeast Beast Fest?
Our band wanted to take part in Southeast Beast because we’re actually stoked on what our friends have put together. There are so many good bands on thie fest and to be a part of it is really awesome.
2) What do you hope people will take away from the festival?
I honestly just hope people can come and have a good time.

Matt Arsenault – A Loss For Words

1) What made you decide to perform in Southeast Beast Fest?

We decided to play this fest for a few reasons. One being that the promoter Rory is a great friend of ours and have been doing shows with him pretty much since our band started. He is an amazing dude who has had our back since day 1. He’s not just a promoter to us, he’s a friend who happens to buy us a lot of fireball shots. Haha. Also because the lineup is amazing! A great mixture of hardcore and pop punk which is the community I’ve been a part of for 15 years now. Sharing the stage with some older friends like The  Wonder Years, Death Before Dishonor, Thick As Blood to younger friends like The Story So Far, Real Friends, etc. I’m excited as a fan to see Modern Life Is War to be honest. Such an amazing band and haven’t seen them since they played the ICC in Boston some years ago.

2) What do you hope people will take away from the festival?

I want people to understand that this is a community. This show has all the assets that any kid should witness to see what it’s all about. I hope people watch every band from beginning to end. The young as well as the old. In the realization that the bands and the people going to the show play a big roll in this scene. Excited to play and party with all my friends! This gonna be an amazing festival and thankful to be a part of it!.

Soupy – The Wonder Years

1) What made you decide to perform in Southeast Beast Fest?

To spite Rory.
2) What do you hope people will take away from the festival?
Rory will be spited.

More Info:
Instagram @southeastbeastfest
Twitter @southeastbeast
Tickets on sale at

Also check out FYF Booking for more shows all over Florida