Before I get into this month’s featured band and venue — Cardinal Slinky and 1904 Music Hall — I want to take a moment to appreciate the music scene we’re surrounded by. I feel incredibly privileged to be covering Jacksonville’s scene right now. The amount and level of talent is incredibly high, and the venues are amazing. If you’re looking for great new music to listen to, forget Spotify’s Discover Weekly, just pop in to a local show and find your new favorite band. Even a random show on a random night, you’re bound to find something to rock your face off.
1904 Music Hall opened in 2011, and it is a place that sets the bar high for music venues in Jacksonville. From the historic building itself, built in 1904 (hence the name), decked out in trippy murals of everything from three-eyed cats to three-eyed Lemmy Kilmisters, to the sound system and lighting array, everything about the place is top notch without pretense. It still retains a very authentic and relaxed vibe. Plus, there’s a patio with an additional stage out back, to serve an additional dose of rock on special occasions like May’s Jazz Fest After Dark.
I hit a recent show at 1904 Music Hall and the lineup was Kings Canvas, The Cosmic Highway, Cardinal Slinky and Gov Club. Sadly I missed the majority of Kings Canvas’ set, but I won’t make that mistake again. They’re a chill alternative/indie rock quartet out of Palm Coast. The Cosmic Highway took the stage to a guitar-dripping tremolo not unlike some of 311’s quieter jams, but with raspier, more soulful Perry Farrell-style vocals. Following this month’s feature Cardinal Slinky was Gov Club who describe themselves as Interstellar Alternative, and I’m stumped to come up with a different or even more accurate descriptor. They’re a high-energy affair that sounds like Primus decided to become a 70s party-funk band in space. That may not make sense on paper, but trust me, they’re not to be missed.
Cardinal Slinky was my main draw that evening. A trio that’s been in this particular incarnation for about a year and a half, and a project since 2010, Rachel Whitford (guitar, vocals), Corey Griffin (bass, vocals), and Thomas Morrison (drums, hair) lay down what they call Punch Rawk.
This female-led band is loud, fierce, and crunchy. Their influences are broad and varied, from Dream Theater to Bootsy Collins, and it’s evident in their sound. Morrison lays down technical explosions on the drums, keeping the momentum of the music driving forward. Griffin throws down punchy and funky bass. Whitford brings the noise level up with a tight, crunchy, 90s grunge-rock tone on the guitar. Whitford and Griffin share time on lead vocals, with Whitford’s powerful voice soaring somewhere between The Gits’ Mia Zapata and Glenn Danzig, and Griffin’s a little more punk meets hip-hop.
On stage they’re a forceful, louder-than-they-look act that keeps you pumped the whole set through. Cardinal Slinky is out there to blow you away, and they’ve got everything they need to do it. If you have missed them up to this point, you can find them June 24 at Shantytown Pub in Springfield, or July 6 at Rain Dogs in 5 Points. They’re currently raising money to fund a studio album, “In the Battlefield”, but you can find their demo entitled “Basic Training” on Soundcloud.