Last Friday’s Floor reunion show at Churchill’s was, unsurprisingly, entertaining enough just for its audience. With a crowd ranging from lifelong Kendall bros to facially tattooed crusties, those assembled represented almost a who’s-who of anyone with any vague connection to the band over the past two decades. As many in the crowd had aged gracefully weird, so had Floor’s music itself. Played live again, it was clearly of its time, before stoner/sludge/doom/whatever metal was trendy and all it needed was the sparest of riff grooves. But the material still holds up — and its influence, direct or otherwise, still reverberates in the local scene, as shown by the opening bands.
Trio Shroud Eater were probably the not-so-sleeper hit of the show, though they remain oddly polarizing. It’s a shame a decent chunk of people chose to hang out at Churchill’s patio bar during their set, but their take on sludge is among the best in the city, and would do fine at a national level too. The group’s charging rhythms and guttural female yells bring to mind pre-theremin Kylesa, and there’s no messing around during or between songs. The set proceeded professionally and well-oiled.
So, too, did Holly Hunt’s, probably the most anticipated of the openers thanks to both the members’ personal popularity around town, as well as their unique take on the genre. Just a guitar, courtesy of Gavin Perry, and drums, courtesy of Betty Monteavaro, is plenty to get heavy — no vocals needed. For the uninitiated, it can be hard to keep track of where the songs are going, but a good Holly Hunt set is about the overall effect. The duo excels in creating a trance-like vibe without a lot of bells and whistles or easy access points; Perry barely, if ever, faces the audience. It works as a total experience.
Compared to that, Gainesville’s Post Teens, up directly after them, were downright poppy with punk rock and roll inflections. The band cites influences like the Soft Boys and the Ramones, and the faster stuff really rips. While it was almost a jarring change from Holly Hunt, the group was a good transitional act towards Floor.
In the headliners, it was easy to hear the melodic strains that would later lead to the sound of Torche, Floor frontman Steve Brooks’ current band. In fact, beyond just Brooks’ voice, the Floor material now, in retrospect often sounds much like a slower Torche. There’s a penchant for more major chords than one might usually hear in similar bands, and downright singalong choruses. That was especially evident on Friday in old songs like “Iron Girl,” which stood in contrast to Floor’s earliest, screamiest material. No matter from which era the band drew, though, there was enough (pleasant) nastiness in the music to get everyone moving, bros and crusties alike.