Guerrilla generator shows tap into Tampa's underground music scene

08/16/10 Kelly Benjamin
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Tampa's underground music scene has morphed through the years from bar bands to world-renowned death metal acts to hardcore punk and indie bands. But for the past several years, the most overlooked music scene in Tampa has been the one to make the most noise.

Tampa's indigenous guerrilla noise music scene has been around for several years now, but it's not easy to find. Aside from a few "official" shows at places like the now-closed Flight 19 or downtown Tampa's Cafe Hey, most of the shows happen outside, on the street, or in a park. Or, last weekend, along the Tampa Trail in Northwest Hillsborough County.

“This is the Bloodfest, right now. It’s a live concert. Well, this is year 8. We’re recording this near 2010. 2003, the first on, was in a garage. It’s evolved, de-evolved, become more deranged since then. Day show, outside, guerrilla style. Night show, maybe somewhere a little more comfortable, but not necessarily some underground music.

Carlos Gonzalez is CEO of Cheapo Records and a pioneer of free outdoor guerrilla shows. They are typically powered by generator and include circuit boards, tape loops, and homemade instruments as often as guitars and drums. Previous shows have taken place at bus stops, under bridges, along Bayshore Boulevard and in the parking lot of the Mons Venus.

“There are no limitations. I mean, in a lot of different aspects of life. When it comes to the arts, only being able to play in clubs, or only being able to play in bars, or sanctioned areas, limit who can play in those places, and that really stifles the well spring of what’s out there. Taking it to the street, yourself, allows you to do what you want to do, without having these restrictions put upon you. It’s music in a [more] free sense than a commercial sense.”

Stu Kincaid, or S2K as he's known on stage - which is typically a sidewalk or patch of grass - says that although the music is rooted in a traditional punk, anti-corporate, do-it-yourself ethic, these generator shows span several genres of music and have evolved into conceptual performance art pieces.

“It’s not just specifically any kind of music that’s being played. These are all different kinds of people, doing all different kinds of things, and there’s no real specific genre. Do I think it’s more important than other music? Yeah, I think it’s more real than a lot of the other music. I mean, the motivations for doing this are a lot different than bands that are trying to make careers, or playing whatever else. This is more about creativity than commercial build.”

Bands like Ant Parade typically perform a 5 minute set. Sometimes shows are small, with only 3 or 4 bands. But sometimes, as with Bloodfest, over 20 acts from Tampa and around the country show up to play. There is no stage. Bands play at crowd level with a generator humming nearby.

For more information on outdoor generator shows going on out there, check out

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