Here is a re-post of an article I wrote for Free Press Houston about this year’s Bruise Cruise. Here’s a link to the actual article:  Enjoy…

I’ve just limped off the gangplank of the Carnival Imagination into the Port of Miami, and I have a rare sort of nervous elation I am scared to lose and know I will fiend to find again. I spent the weekend on the Bruise Cruise, a three-day music festival aboard a cruise ship sailing from Miami to Nassau and back. It was truly fucking exceptional.

The line-up this year included The Dirtbombs, Thee Oh Sees, Neil Hamburger, Fucked Up, King Khan & The Shrines, Kyp Malone, Mikel Cronin, The Soft Pack, Quintron, Jello Biofra, and the cruise-only, cover band supergroup The Togas (Ty Segall, The Strange Boys, & Reigning Sound) among others. The Bruise Cruise is not a festival; it’s a luxury vacation away from the culture of music.

As far as the performances go, ALL of them were outstanding. They took place primarily in Xanadu, the gilded, 90’s-era, kitsch lounge in the rear of the ship and Señor Frog’s in Nassau. Yep, Señor Frog’s.

The high points are endless. To name a few:

  • A bouncing crowd being slung back and forth by the ship during Thee Oh Sees set.
  • Neil Hamburger berating the non-bruisers in the crowd at Senor Frog’s.
  • Mick Collins looking at The Dirtbombs’ cruise-only 7” and saying “Huh? When did we cut this?”
  • Kyp Malone maxing out the PA with a vocal shriek.
  • The Togas (in costume) covering “Search and Destroy”.
  • Our cruise director (Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham) hurling condoms at the crowd during the cruise’s version of The Dating Game.
  • Jello Biafra organizing rides to the airport at the after-party.
  • Miss Pussycat’s puppet show being interrupted by our quasi-intelligible, Italian captain to discuss Valentine’s Day.
  • An unsuspecting bachelorette party (in matching outfits) arriving at Frog’s during the Fucked Up show (and then staying).
  • Dancing for hours at Quintron’s unmatchable set and the Swamp Stack Dance Party that followed.
  • Realizing on the last day that Karen O was on the cruise,  and usually in a bathrobe.
  • The lust opera of a performance by bouncemaster (and Houstonian!) Vockah Redu.

The Bruise Cruise (now in its second year) is organized by the indelible Michelle Cable of Panache Booking and Jonas Stein of the band Turbo Fruits. They have created something that may seem like a charmed, DIY novelty at first, but it’s a lot more than that.  At its very least, the Bruise Cruise is a necessary invention.

There were roughly 2000 passengers on board; only 500 were “Bruisers” who paid double that of the regular cruisers. The 500 consisted of: bands, press, and fans who have a reckless attitude toward their net worth. We were a strange upper-class, pressing every luxury forward. So, why did we do it?

I had hoped for sociological theater, but that didn’t happen. From all reports, last year’s inaugural cruise had a much more mischievous stripe running through it. I suppose that most thought it was an enchanted one-off and treated it as such. If last year was about reckless conquest, this year was about nesting and making sure that we could all do it all again.

The apathy of the other cruisers was welcome company to a crowd hailing mostly from the twitching hyper-informed city of Brooklyn, New York, which was recently described to me as the “Hollywood of music”. I’ve also never seen bands look more content or relaxed. The weekend was, after all, a vacation from their winter tours.

The most important thing to note is that there was virtually no phone service or Internet available for the entire trip, and I never heard anyone complain. This became what really made this festival truly special.  The crowd was not watching the shows through a sea of raised iPhones, and then scrambling to post their “footage”; they were actually present, together, sharing an experience. This festival didn’t need to be validated by the Internet; it was valid on its own.

Relearning Web-less human interaction is pretty easy in a formalized setting that is built only for drinking, eating, fucking, swimming, and going broke. These are all themes that have a significant place in rock-and-roll culture. This irresponsible electricity in an exclusive environment, away from the bad noise of the world came to feel, for lack of a better term…punk.

There is a heavy irony in the idea that independent music culture has become so over-saturated, dangerously accessible, and embedded in the marketplace, that one of the last places it can still get enough room to breathe is in the staged-and-staffed, faux opulence of a “luxury” cruise liner.

The Bruise Cruise was a savage vacation that reminded me how great it is to see a show, and the human connection that makes me come back.

PFU’s Best of 2011


USE: Examining/enjoying the past year by the music it inspired.

PFU #021 – The Best of 2011 [Pt. 1]

  1. Felt Letters – 600,000 Bands
  2. YACHT – Shangri-la
  3. The Cars – Free
  4. Eleanor Friedberger – My Mistakes
  5. Kanye West & Jay-Z – That’s My Bitch
  6. Emily Bell – Back To The Way I Was
  7. Thee Oh Sees – Dead Energy
  8. Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band – Stay Away [Nirvana Cover]
  9. Miami Horror – Holidays
  10. The Black Lips – Modern Art
  11. The War on Drugs – Baby Missiles
  12. Chain & The Gang – Detroit Music [Pt. 1]
  13. The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love?
  14. Patton Oswalt – The Vestibule of Dreams
  15. DJ Shadow – Run For Your Life
  16. Justice – Newlands
  17. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
  18. Wu-Tang & Jimi Hendrix – The Wind Cries Mary [ft. GZA & U-God]
  19. Wire – Please Take
  20. SebastiAn – Tetra
  21. Telekinesis – Please Ask For Help
  22. Dirty Beaches – Sweet 17
  23. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Tiger
  24. Four Tet – Locked
  25. Jacuzzi Boys – Zeppelin
  26. David Lynch – Good Day Today
  27. Veronica Falls – Stephen
  28. Moon Boots – Gopher It
  29. The Generationals – Dirty Mister Dirty
  30. Young Hunting – Into Yr Mind
  31. King Krule – Bleak Bake
  32. Okay Colour! – (Caribbean) Dreams
  33. The Caretaker – All You Are Going To Want To Do Is Get Back There

PFU #022 – The Best of 2011 [Pt. 2]

  1. The Archers of Loaf – Web In Front
  2. Cut Copy – Need You Now
  3. Dom – Some Boys [ft. Emma]
  4. Dr. Dre – Kush [ft. Snoop Dogg & Akon]
  5. Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Wrong Time Wrong Planet
  6. Kids At The Bar – Young Ones [ft. Glasnost]
  7. Gospel Music – Let’s Run
  8. Lykke Li – Jerome
  9. Modest Mouse – That’ll Be The Day [Buddy Holly Cover]
  10. Night Beats – Puppet On A String
  11. Nicolas Jaar – I Got A Woman
  12. My Morning Jacket – Victory Dance
  13. Big K.R.I.T. – Dreamin’
  14. Radiohead – Lotus Flower
  15. Real Estate – Barely Legal [Strokes Cover]
  16. Stornoway – Zorbing
  17. Thurston Moore – Benediction
  18. Tom Waits – Kiss Me
  19. Tyler, The Creator – Yonkers
  20. M.I.A. – 27 [Amy Winehouse Tribute]
  21. Washed Out – Soft
  22. Widowspeak – In The Pines
  23. Wu-Tang Clan – Only The Rugged Survive [ft. RZA]
  24. The Strange Boys – Me & You
  25. Deerhoof – Super Duper Rescue Heads!
  26. Cults – Never Saw The Point
  27. Chain & The Gang – Not Good Enough
  28. Paul Simon – Rewrite
  29. Wild Beasts – End Come Too Soon
  30. Youth Lagoon – July
  31. YACHT – Tripped and Fell in Love
  32. Yuck – Georgia
  33. Puro Instinct – Luv Goon
  34. Bosco Delrey – The Afterlife
  35. Charles Bradley – How Long?

PFU #023 – The Best of 2011 [Pt. 3]

  1. Little Dragon – Little Man
  2. Peaches – Turn It On [Franz Ferdinand Cover]
  3. Edwyn Collins – Come Tomorrow, Come Today
  4. Explosions in the Sky – Trembling Hands
  5. Fujiya & Miyagi – Yoyo
  6. The Generationals – Please Be It
  7. Guided By Voices – Chocolate Boy
  8. Holy Ghost! – Wait and See
  9. I Break Horses – Winter Beats
  10. Mikal Cronin – Apathy
  11. Night Beats – High Noon Blues
  12. Radiohead – Morning, Mr. Magpie
  13. Toro Y Moi – Still Sound [Glasnost Remix]
  14. Okay Colour! – Tropical Fleetwood
  15. Ty Segall – My Head Explodes
  16. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Ffunny Ffriends
  17. Lana Del Ray – Video Games
  18. M83 – Midnight City
  19. Atlas Sound – Terra Incognita
  20. Kanye West & Jay-Z – Niggas In Paris
  21. Justice – On’n’On
  22. Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – Huzzah! [Remix] [ft. Despot, Das Racist, & El-P]
  23. Royal Headache – Wilson Street
  24. The Soft Pack – Answer To Yourself
  25. Thee Oh Sees – Chem-Farmer
  26. WU LYF – Dirt
  27. Wild Flag – Electric Band
  28. Phantogram – 16 Years
  29. Cat’s Eyes – Over You
  30. Toro Y Moi – I Can Get Love
  31. The Drums – Money
  32. Widowspeak – Fir Coat
  33. Calvin Harris – Feel So Close
  34. Danny Brown – EWNESW
  35. Chairlift – Wrong Opinion
  36. Jacuzzi Boys – Glazin’
  37. Johnny Falstaff – Honky Tonk Blood
  38. Marc Maron – Working Out Their Daddy Issues
  39. Marc Maron – “Stop Talking!”

PFU #024 – The Best of 2011 [Pt. 4]

  1. The Sounds – It’s So Easy
  2. Real Estate – Out of Tune
  3. Bonnie “Prince” Billy – New Whaling
  4. Motel Aviv – The Unknown
  5. YACHT – Paradise Engineering
  6. Youth Lagoon – Daydream
  7. Battles – My Machines [ft. Gary Numan]
  8. Washed Out – A Dedication
  9. The Rapture – In The Grace of Your Love
  10. Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
  11. People Like Us – I’m Dreaming Too
  12. Phantogram – Don’t Move
  13. Quintron & Miss Pussycat – Ring The Alarm
  14. Andre Williams – My Time Will Come
  15. Anthony Jeselnik – Seduction
  16. Big K.R.I.T. – American Rapstar
  17. Bitch Perfect – Holiday in America
  18. Boris – Attention Please
  19. Beastie Boys – OK
  20. The Feelies – Nobody Knows
  21. Eleanor Friedberger – One Month Marathon
  22. Four Tet – Pinnacles
  23. Brian Lopez – Montjuic
  24. John Maus – The Crucifix
  25. Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever
  26. Major Lazer – Original Don
  27. Man Man – Spookie Jookie
  28. The Go! Team – Ready To Go Steady
  29. Adele – Rolling in the Deep
  30. Jacuzzi Boys – Los Angeles
  31. Veronica Falls – The Box
  32. The Antlers – Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out
  33. Frank Ocean – Thinking About You
  34. The Roots – The OtherSide [ft. Greg Porn & Bilal Oliver]
  35. Candles of Paradise – In The Chapel

PFU #025 – The Best of 2011 [Pt. 5]

  1. The Caretaker – Libet’s Delay
  2. Christmas – Pyong
  3. Clams Casino – Natural
  4. Crystal Fighters – At Home
  5. Dirty Beaches – Lord Knows Best
  6. Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx – Nightcall
  7. Charlotte Gainsbourg – All The Rain
  8. Fleet Foxes – Grown Ocean
  9. The Psychic Paramount – Isolated
  10. Katy B – Disappear
  11. The Strange Boys – Over the River and Through the Woulds
  12. J. Viewz – Salty Air
  13. Cat’s Eyes – Face in the Crowd
  14. David Lynch – Pinky’s Dream
  15. Vockah Redu – Lay Wit U [J-Dawg Mix]
  16. Adele – Rumour Has It
  17. Raphael Saadiq – Good Man
  18. Atlas Sound – Mona Lisa
  19. Lauren Wood – Summer Skin [ft. Haley and Abby]
  20. Austra – The Noise
  21. Southern Backtones – Forever
  22. TV on the Radio – Caffeinated Consciousness
  23. Wale – Chain Music
  24. Wilco – The Whole Love
  25. Lindsey Buckingham – Rock Away Blind
  26. Freddie Gibbs – Heaven Can Wait
  27. Ghostface Killah – Purified Thoughts [ft. GZA & Killah Priest]
  28. Girls – Vomit
  29. Tom Waits – Talking At The Same Time
  30. Toro Y Moi – New Beat
  31. Nerves Junior – Champagne & Peaches
  32. Night Beats – Ain’t Dumbo
  33. Radiohead – Little By Little [Caribou Remix]
  34. My Morning Jacket – Movin’ Away
  35. SebastiAn – Ross Ross Ross
  36. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Witchhunt Suite for World War III [9/11 10th Anniversary]
  37. Chain & The Gang – Music’s Not For Everyone