(Photo: Southern Flaw)
The artist known as Bobby Load (nee Johnston) has drunkenly assaulted South Florida's stages for over two decades. A period long enough for him to be both the frontman of the dirtiest, loudest, smelliest, and greatest punk rock band we've ever had, LOAD, (who were kind enough to bestow their name upon him, which remains some 12 years after their last gig) and to play with numerous combos since then , both as a singer (Southern Flaw, various incarnations of bands named after him) and drumming in the final incarnation of the late,great, Johnny Salton's band, The Psycho Daises.
Between 1992-1994, Bobby Load was a bigger rock star than Marilyn Manson. He was better looking, had a much better stage presence and a scream that sent otherwise rational people into maniacal fits of slam dancing and binge drinking. His guitarist, Jeff Tucci, was a monster riff maker. Drummer Fausto Figueredo, aka "Something Smelly On Drums," beat his kit like it owed him money. Bassist Tony Qualls, he of the iron liver, picked out unforgettable bass lines that transcended his chops.
For better or worse, LOAD also had a manager that while clueless in most useful ways - was excellent at getting LOAD as the opening act in front of large, sold out crowds until their own shows were also, large and mostly sold out. The result being LOAD was synonymous with South Florida's metal, punk and alternative scene . What LOAD didn't have was enough drive to tour farther than Texas, where Bobby got arrested for public urination in an alley. Eventually the big-fish-little-pond syndrome ate all the band's oxygen, leaving LOAD's career hopelessly derailed by 1995 and belly-up in 1999.
Since then, Bobby Load has veered somewhere between local music legend and Otis The Drunk from the Andy Griffth Show. At his own shows he's prone to take pre-show naps, using the vocal monitor for a pillow. If it's not his show but still a viable rock and roll thing, you can still count on Bobby to be there with 3-4 old mill waters stashed in his jean jacket. . More often than not, he'll jump onstage to greet the band or attempt to sit in. This habit got him body slammed off the stage mid-show by Jessica from Jack Off Jill at their record release party. Imagine Miss Piggy savaging a drunken Kermit while screaming "This Is My Show! Not The Bobby Load Show!"
Throw a beer cap at a punk rock gig, anywhere in a 100 mile radius, and you'll hit someone with a Bobby Load story. Tonight, at the aptly named "Dive Bar" on Fort Lauderdale Beach, Bobby's newest backing band, "The Vomits" will crank out the garage punk fare that he's championed since 1992, when someone made him a Sonics tape that he proceeded to pull out at every house party he attended for the next five years. Some free shots will allegedly be passed out around 10 for the early birds, and then Bobby Load and The Vomits will open for femme fatale punkers Angry Pudding, garage rock stylists The Instant Whips and Shroud Eater, who play a noisy skronk that Load fans should be into. Undoubtedly, at least a dozen folks in the audience will have a new Bobby Load story to tell after tonight. Here's hoping it doesn't involve the band's name turning the show into the pie eating contest scene from "Stand By Me."
The Dive Bar is located at N. Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale. Doors open at 9:30. Admission is free.