A little over a month ago, I received an event invite on Facebook that I thought was either a huge mistake or an elaborate joke. The invite read, “Soulfound Reunion w/ WeakSauce, Elevated, and The Gita – One Night Only!” It was the only time in my life that I thought it was possible to wake up in one’s past, but that’s not possible, right? Not in the sense of Science-Fiction, in this case. I soon learned that a long-time, local staple to the Tampa Bay area Independent Rock Music scene – a staple that had unofficially faded away after a few ill-timed events – was throwing what was to be a reunion show. Technically, I suppose that’s a true statement. In order to play together as a group, they would have to re-unite, however, this would be the show to end all shows. A concert to give their fans – and those of the accompanying bands – one final chance to say goodbye.
I suppose a little local Music History lesson is in order here. Without getting too detailed [you can check out my exclusive interview with Soulfound here], Soulfound is a Florida-based rock band that was formed in 1999 by lead vocalist and bass guitar player, Ivan Peña (currently of local band Rise of Saturn). The band enjoyed success in multiple forms, containing an impressive discography – including an all Spanish EP, several music videos, and one of the most loyal fan bases I have ever seen in the 15 plus years I have been covering concerts and music events. In the weeks leading up to the big day, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with front man, Ivan Peña, and making plans to ensure this would be the final chance to give the fans an opportunity to receive the closure they deserved about 5 years ago when word got around of the death of Soulfound, an announcement that made its rounds on the then popular social site, MySpace.
Fast forward to exactly a week ago. Familiar faces convene on an undisclosed location – a readily available warehouse for lease in the middle of St. Pete – and begin a familiar dance… the one of setting up and, for all intents and purposes, playing a complete, dry run of the show they are set to play the following night. As they played through tracks that were familiar, yet lost in what seemed to be flashbacks from a different life, I suddenly came to the realization that I was witnessing first hand, the fact that this show would mark what would truly be the end of an era, not just for their fans or the local music scene, but also the end of the days where we could share tunes and experiences from our favorite band that created a family amongst a group of fans – people whom would otherwise be complete strangers. It was a bittersweet feeling. Also, how did they remember all those notes and lyrics for all those years? Pros. True pros.
Soulfound’s Final Practice [03 May 2013]
On Saturday, May 4th, 2013, I arrived at the State Theatre, a largely popular Rock music venue nestled in the quirky center of St. Peterburg’s now artsy downtown. It was time to work. While taking photos I realized how strange the passing of 5 years can change so many things; people, attitudes, locations, tastes, and memories. “Was that there before?”, “Is that the one guy from that one thing that one time?”, and “I remember this place being a lot bigger,” were all common thoughts being shared by old friends in a conversation they had seemed to pick right up from years prior… a conversation put on hold that could finally be ended.
Around 7pm, Pete Berwick warmed up an eager crowd. The Gita took the stage afterwards. It was the first time I had ever seen them perform, and their music was distinctly their own – a trait that each and every band in this line-up would display. During the next act, lead singer of Weaksauce (another band that parted ways around the same time as Soulfound), Justin Vilardi, stopped mid-song – in the middle of their final set ever – to stop an out of control fan from starting a fight. “We don’t do that here, man. We are a family here! Security, get this A-hole outta here!” After being escorted out of the venue by security, the band picked up exactly where they had stopped… as if nothing at all had happened – a kind of universal nod – the galaxy’s example of what this night represented to so many fans; not only the ability to pick up where we left off, but the appreciation that we are doing so with family and friends – old and new. Anyone out to ruin that can get lost. “Excuse my French,” he continued, “Let’s do this!”
Next, it was Soulfound’s time to give the audience a set list of tracks that would span their musical history. My job was to cover the event, but I found myself wanting to be in front of the stage with all of my old friends, listening to and singing along with all the greatest hits, instead of being behind and on the stage – something I had worked so hard to achieve over all those years. As all good things do, this show came to an end. Ultimately, all experiences had were all good and another Soulfound show was in the books – the final of them all. The epic conclusion to a book written collectively by so many people, creating so many memories and stories to tell that last forever… or at least until another “reunion” show…