In a distant land (Myrtle Beach), long ago (late 1990s/early 2000s), a form of musical entertainment existed for the boys and girls seeking an original live music experience with any number of their sweaty peers. While that glorious underground of regularly appearing local garage bands and even touring indie bands performing in damp, dark places has mostly disappeared, glimpses of that mythical time and place may still be seen.
Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach is the de facto ink strip with a concentration of tattoo parlors. It’s also the home of Brian Mckenzie’s Music Factory, which is not only a fine little recording studio, it’s periodically reinvented as an art gallery, and music hall. Four alternative acts will perform in a free concert on June 6, reconnecting the space to its earliest roots, when the site at 700 G Seaboard Street had a different sign out front.
“I opened the Lazy i in 2000,” said Michael Wood, former Myrtle Beach music scenester who relocated to Chapel Hill, N.C. several years ago. “It was basically a record store with shows in the back, and Brian’s studio in front.” Wood is co-promoting and performing with McKenzie and others on June 6 reuniting the two music men who for so long have championed local alternative music in their own indelible ways.
On the bill: M is We (Wood guitar/vocal, guitarist McKenzie, Drew Jacobs on bass, Claudia Gregory additional vocals), along with McKenzie’s Electric Bird Noise, Treyverb (Trey McManus of the Drag and King of Prussia doing solo atmospheric guitar work), and Feel No Other (Gregory / McKenzie duo). A late-night dance party follows the bands.
Lest you think this reincarnation of the Lazy i is the only game in town for original, local alternative music, it should be duly noted that a few Grand Strand venues still respect the genre. Pirate’s Cove Bar & Grill, and the House Of Blues, both in North Myrtle Beach, Woody’s Roadside Tavern, Fresh Brewed Coffee House and The Tavrne in Myrtle Beach, along with the Rockin’ Hard Saloon in Murrells Inlet, all occasionally host young bands and their younger than 21 fans. Though the alternative shows at these clubs are hosted with all the right intentions, they don’t quite capture the same vibe of this bygone era.
A growing list of long gone venues were once home for wayward youth in skinny jeans and black converse, struggling touring bands, fresh-faced high school garage bands, and hardcore street alcoholics. These clubs had names that are fading into Myrtle Beach history; The Clubhouse, The Social, The Limelight, Hazmat, The Soundgarden, Drink!, The Basement, The Soundhole. These are just a few of the forgotten soldiers who lived and died for the cause of free musical expression, welcoming the younger than 21 crowd inside to taste the forbidden fruit of loud, out-of-tune guitars, poorly played drums, distorted bass guitar, occasional spurts of musical genius, smuggled mini bottles of booze, and more fun then any kid should be allowed to have. Now all gone, relegated to the Where are They Now file.
Still, local alternative rock ‘n’ roll will never die, thanks in part to the efforts of McKenzie and Wood, especially, who wears the multiple hats of promoter, performer, manger, booking agent, and “Aging Scenester.” This pejorative moniker was given to Wood years ago in the heat of adolescent turmoil over some forgotten show that inevitably went south. “It was supposed to be an insult,” said Wood, “but I started a Facebook group instead, and have fun with it.”
And isn’t that the point?