News Section: Travel
Downtown St. Petersburg is a Chic Mummy who Croons with Millennial Vibrato
“I feel like I just got laid,” said one young man, lingering amongst the St. Pete crowd after Sonic Graffiti’s set at The Local 662, Sunday night. He was 25, 26, wearing Levi’s and a black t-shirt. Printed on the t-shirt shirt across the chest, was a large, undecipherably blurry black and white photograph. He looked like a musician, though probably he was not one, at least not anymore—meaning it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that he, at one time or another, had played in bands.
The boy he stood with wore a plaid shirt and gave a similar impression. In fact, most of the young men in the Local tonight were this way, and the girls offered an appropriate counterpoint. Such is frequently the scene here on the 600 block of Central Avenue, in downtown St. Petersburg, and the nights that are different are awry.
(The 600 block is home to Daddy Kool Records, and No Clubs!, and also the prominent live music venues State Theatre, FUBAR, and the Local 662—the heart and lungs and pickled liver kidneys of the St. Pete underground. On any given night something cool is happening here, and when you go out you’re glad you did. The 600 block is a marketplace, a kingdom of cool, and the kingdom is reinforced by a strong wall of cool boutiques and bars and galleries, and tattoo shops, etc., strung along the avenue and peppering the great white salt of normal shoppes and restaurants and sports bars, that dominate much of downtown. The venues are vital countercultural organs, and the rest is blood, veins, bones & teeth, and toes. And also tongues. The body is a chic mummy, who croons with millennial vibrato. His clothes are vintage and his skin falls off, but he can sing and dance, and his big cigar fills the air with black romance, and the lovers dizzystroll up and down the sidewalks and the punks write on bathrooms with Sharpies, and Pabst Blue Ribbon in the garbage can, a fresh one waiting on the bar, beside an ashtray, still resonating smoke from abandoned fag, cigarette vending machine $8 pack, stickers and flyers and residues—brown bags box wine alleybacks, and nobody gets arrested because the bums are much more obvious.)
The downtown St. Pete music&arts scene is consistent and self sustaining. It is a matter of DIY-approach and old punk rock ethos, and it comes together with the notion that a $40 store bought boutique t-shirt is still DIY if the person who owns the store opened it because everything else sucks. This was the vibe I got at Freshly Squeezed—a nearby store that sells premium streetwear—when I bought the t-shirt I wore Sunday night to the Sonic Graffiti show. It was a good crowd for Sunday night. Sonic Graffiti always rocks. Drew, the singer, wore a cool white t-shirt with a photo of Jimi Hendrix on the front.
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