It has been nearly 20 years since the Groovenics struck fear into the hearts of parents across South Florida with the release of their debut album, “Wedgie Fever,” which would allow an army of young fans who broke curfew at the band’s notoriously excessive nightclub shows to bring their irreverent punk-metal histrionics into their homes for the first time.
Inactive since 2003, the Groovenics will reunite on Saturday, June 24, at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room to share music from their first album in 16 years. As excited as they are about the new songs and the show, the Groovenics will not be a fixture in clubs wreaking havoc for a new generation of parents anytime soon. Priorities have changed, founding guitarist Jim Austin says. For one, the Delray Beach resident is going to be a parent himself for the first time.
“My wife is having twins,” Austin says wearily from a hotel room in Tampa, on the road as a sales rep for a plumbing and mechanical engineering firm. Citing the imminent August arrival of a girl and a boy, the 36-year-old Austin says, “I’m as involved in music as I want to be right now.”
Another Groovenics guitarist, Lake Worth resident A.J. Marchetta, also is expecting a boy in August.
“We went from irresponsible punk-rock kids to fathers, business owners and taxpayers,” Marchetta says. “This whole reunion deal, even the record with 14 new songs, is something we did on our vacation days from work. It’s something we did to get away from the stress of the daily grind.”
The album, titled “Neon Animal,” will drop on iTunes and other major digital download sites just after midnight Thursday morning.
Founded in the Boynton Beach-Lake Worth area in 1993, the Groovenics were at the vanguard of a halcyon era of South Florida metal in the mid-late ’90s, with bands such as Nonpoint, A New Found Glory, Puya, Endo and Darwin's Waiting Room rising to varying degrees of national and regional success with a sunbaked hybrid of punk and metal that some called sun-core.
Led by backflipping, fire-breathing singer Karl Bernholtz, he of the Sonic the Hedgehog hair, the Groovenics dominated the South Florida Slammie Awards in 1998 and 1999, twice winning Band of the Year honors at the annual celebration of local music. Bernholtz was a two-time Vocalist of the Year winner, a feat also achieved by Marilyn Manson.
Spirited, guitar-driven assaults such as “Teach Me,” “Tasty Waves,” “Scratch N Sniff,” “Chopstix” and the infamous “Booty Barn” made a Groovenics show at clubs such as Malone’s, Respectable Street, the Edge or the Prop Room a sweat-through-your-shirt party.
When “Wedgie Fever” and its 2001 Spitfire Records follow-up, “Groovenics,” did not make a mark nationally, inevitable frustrations fractured the band. But the personal bond that first brought them together as teenagers has proven stronger than old wounds, Austin says, setting the stage for Saturday’s Culture Room reunion, just the Groovenics’ fourth show in 17 years.
With the exception of bassist Pete Carmichael (now playing in Armageddon Man), all the original members will join Austin onstage: Bernholtz (now living in New York), guitarist Matt Swig (Delray Beach), keyboardist Josh Mullenix (Port St. Lucie), drummer Mike McFarland (North Carolina) and Marchetta, who replaced Austin in a late incarnation of the Groovenics. Bobby Parker, with Marchetta a member of Lake Worth band the Muggles, will play bass.
“The draw to it is the friendship, more than the music,” Austin says. “The songs were never all that good to begin with, but we had a good time hanging out together. We were friends first, and I think we’ve kind of valued that more over the years.”
The album was mostly written and produced by Austin and Marchetta, who had never met until shortly before a reunion show last year at Respectable Street. They discovered they were kindred musical spirits, and created the album in Marchetta’s home studio over the past 18 months.
On Facebook posts about the Culture Room show, the band promises they are “still loud and still weird.” One new song is titled “GFY,” which urges the listener to do something anatomically impossible to themselves. But another is called “Fade,” which includes a refrain — “Can’t rewind or hit replay. Nothing we can do or say. Can’t hang on to yesterday” — that sounds disturbingly like maturity.
“‘Fade’ is about letting go of the past and being here in the present, thankful for your blessings and hopeful for the future,” Marchetta says.
With the help of unofficial band documentarian Becky Broom, Marchetta created a video for “Fade” that flips through performance footage and flyers of old shows, which included nationally popular bands Nonpoint and A New Found Glory as opening acts for the Groovenics. Austin admits to a little “what might have been” wistfulness at seeing those memories, but he doesn’t linger on it for long.
“Look, those bands can play circles around us and there’s a reason they’re still doing well,” he says. “I think they had more continuity in what they were doing and where they were going. We were six guys pulling in six different directions. The fact that we held our s--t together long enough to make even two records is pretty shocking to me.”
The Groovenics perform Saturday, June 24, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with Web Three, Askultura and Jessica Morale also performing. Tickets cost $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 954-564-1074 or visit CultureRoom.net and Facebook.com/Groovenics.
We’re big fans of IPA1A from 26 Degree Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach, so it’s a little unsettling to think about the tinkering involved in creating Citrus A1A, a fruity twist on the original that will be found in bottles at a release party noon-5 p.m. Saturday. But we trust them (Facebook.com/26brewing) … Fort Lauderdale’s Craft Beer Cartel offers a home-brewing tutorial 1-4 p.m. Saturday, which includes light bites from the Riverside Market and sample beers for your $35 (Facebook.com/CraftBeerCartel) … Taste the fresh sorcery from Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park beginning at 11:30 a.m. Sunday during the bottle-release event for Get Pitted, a red ale inoculated with wild yeast and soaked inside Cabernet barrels filled with tart cherries (Facebook.com/FunkyBuddhaBrewery).
That community-raising jamboree known as Tacos and Hip Hop will return for a two-year anniversary party in the alley at Subculture Coffee in West Palm Beach on Friday, June 30, with Selecta Steve leading the sounds from 6 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Visit Facebook.com/SubcultureCoffee.
HIS AIM IS TRUE
The best show of the weekend is John Mellencamp’s 7 p.m. Sunday stop at Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton, where he’ll share the heartland truths of his latest album, “Sad Clowns & Hillbillies.” He’ll also be sharing the stage with the great Emmylou Harris and Carlene Carter, the latter collaborating on the beautifully soulful “Indigo Sunset” on the new album. Tickets are$20-$125. Visit Facebook.com/BocaRaton.MiznerParkAmphi.
TAKE THE KIDS
Northwood Mango Heritage Festival in West Palm Beach at noon Saturday includes children’s activities, dance performances and, shocker, mango-infused dishes and drinks. There also will be music from the Resolvers (2:30 p.m.), Jimmy Stowe and the Stowaways (4:30 p.m.), Electric Piquette (6:30 p.m.) and Making Faces (8:30 p.m.). Visit Facebook.com/NorthwoodMangoFestival.
The Wolfsonian on Miami Beach this weekend begins its Sunday-evening Backseat Cinema Film Series with a 6 p.m. screening of the classic Frank Capra screwball comedy “It Happened One Night.” Other films in the series include “Sullivan's Travels” (July 9), “Easy Rider” (July 23), “The Straight Story” (Aug. 6) and “On the Road” (Aug. 20). Tickets cost $11, $9 students and seniors. Visit Wolfsonian.org.
The annual Stripped and Stranded Summer Luau returns to Stache Drinking Den and Coffee Bar in Fort Lauderdale at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, Afro Head Rum, Kona Brewing Co. and BC Surf and Sport, in case there was any confusion about the theme. Octo Gato will provide music you may not remember in the morning, and Don Rudawsky, revered member of the tiki cocktail brotherhood known as the Fraternal Order of Moai, Gumbo Limbo Chapter Limbo Chapter, will be teaching a class in tiki cocktails. Admission is $10, $25 (admission and luau buffet from Executive Chef Jen Knox), $30 (admission and bottomless rum cocktails and Kona beer), $40 (admission, buffet and bottomless drinks/beer). Visit Facebook.com/StacheFTL.
“Saved by the Bell” star, sex taper and enduring pop-culture curiosity Dustin (“Screech”) Diamond will perform 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday at the Open Stage Club, the gastropub and performance space in Coral Gables. Why not? Tickets cost $15, VIP $40 (OpenStageClub.com) ... More conventional humor, maybe, can be found Thursday-Saturday (June 22-24) at the Palm Beach Improv with comic TV star Chris D'Elia — who has earned the right to be mentioned first here, except, as he will admit, he’s no Dustin Diamond (Facebook.com/PBImprov).
BIKINIS ON LAS OLAS
Has it only been five years since American Social brought its provocative brand of merrymaking to its staid corner of Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard? Seems like more hangovers ago than that. At any rate, the centerpiece of AmSo’s week-long fifth anniversary celebration happens on Saturday from noon to midnight with a beach-themed block party on Southeast Eighth Avenue, with wall-to-wall DJs and beach cabanas for rent. Visit: Facebook.com/AmericanSocial.
CORNHOLE FOR GOOD
The Tarpon Bend Cornhole Tournament returns to downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Himmarshee District noon-4:30 p.m. Saturday, with $1,200 cash distributed to the top three finishers. Entry is $20 (includes a free beer or drink), with 20 percent of the proceeds going to Covenant House Florida. Visit: Facebook.com/TarponBendLauderdale, CovenantHouseFL.org.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Acoustic strummer Marcus SoFlo plays Devour Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach 8-11 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/MarcusSoFlo) … Hypoluxo is joined by Timothy Eerie, the Dewars and Symbols at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach 8 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/RespectableStreet) … The Tim Charron Band cowboys up the Starlight Musicals series in Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park 7-10 p.m. Friday (FortLauderdale.gov/Starlight) … Mike Mineo plays Stache in Fort Lauderdale 8 p.m. Friday (Facebook.com/MikeMineoMusic) … Moska Project brings a reggae-influenced Afro-Cuban vibe to the free Friday Night Soundwaves series on Fort Lauderdale beach 6 p.m. Friday (FridayNightSoundwaves.com) …Distinctive singer-songwriter Emily Estefan is at the Faena Theater on Miami Beach 9 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/EmilyEstefanMusic) … Headliner Palo! brings Afro-Cuban funk to the Soul Of Opa-locka Show 5:30-11 p.m. Saturday at the city’s Arts & Recreation Center 5:30-11 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/GoPalo) … Americana singer-guitarist Daylen Brinkley plays the Blind Monk in West Palm Beach 7:30-10 p.m. Sunday (Soundcloud.com/DaylenBrinkley) …Beautiful Lies kicks off Open Mic Tuesdays, hosted by Michelle Rose Domb, at 6:30 p.m. at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale (ArtServe.org) ... Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band headline a free night of music and food trucks at the North Beach Bandshell on Miami Beach 5-10 p.m. Wednesday (NorthBeachBandshell.com).