Punk under the Sun: ’80s Punk and New Wave in South Florida By Joey Seeman & Chris Potash, 224 pgs.

Mar 19, 2024

As a South Florida expatriate, I can attest to some of the speculations covered in this book. First, existing at the end of such an epic peninsula does create a very real sense of isolation. Living in South Florida can feel like living on another planet. Also, it is ridiculously fucking hot. Events start much later, and people stay up much later, just to soak up the relief that the cool night air can provide. These factors, combined with an endless tsunami of heartless tourism, are enough to drive anyone a little crackers. In Punk under the Sun: ’80s Punk in South Florida, authors Joey Seeman and Chris Potash present a thorough documentation of the underground rock and roll subcultures that suffered and thrived in this inhospitable environment.

Seeman and Potash have clearly put some heavy research hours into Punk Under the Sun. The coverage here goes back to the dawn of the eighties. Bands include Morbid Opera, Screaming Sneakers, The Eat (the greatest), Charlie Pickett, The Reactions, The Essentials, Gay Cowboys In Bondage, and dozens more. Also included are clubs and promoters like Richard Shelter (Flynn’s, Cameo Theater, and more) and Dave Daniels (the drunken maniac from Leek, U.K., who owned Churchill’s Hideaway). There are also chapters on local photographers, writers, record stores, and artists. More surprisingly, there is a section on architecture.

In addition, Punk Under the Sun features page after page of photos, flyers, and artwork pertaining to some of South Florida’s best ’80s punk bands. These historical documents alone make this book essential. Punk Under theSun es una fiesta para los ojos. I could flip through it all day. Because art and “image” are a huge part of what makes Miami the city that it is, this seems fitting. This also probably reflects Seeman and Potash’s ongoing involvement in the visual arts.

The only con is that I can’t help feeling like some of the people and things that I grew up believing defined Miami ’80s punk are kind of rushed through or completely left out. For example: where are The Trash Monkeys? Why does Morbid Opera only get one page? Why does the undisputed greatest band in the world, The Eat, get the same amount of coverage as a band like Tuff Luck? Outrage! To be fair, most of my time spent in Miami was in the ’90s, and I feel like I’m coming from a different place.

Well, they say history is written by the beholder or whatever, and there is more than enough amazing material here to captivate any underground music fan with an interest in the South Florida region. The detective work here is top-shelf, the writing is solid throughout, and the design/layout is unreal, making Punk under the Sun: ’80s Punk in South Florida a fantastic read and a true rock’n’roll treasure. –Buddha (Hozac Books, hozacrecords.com)

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