Gainesville has been featured in Expedia, Inc.’s “The 12 best music towns in the nation,” an article published in September. While some students find this surprising, others think it’s been a long time coming.
The city was featured for its underground punk scene and for the various venues throughout Gainesville.
Chloe Mulliner, an Expedia Viewfinder staff writer, found out about Gainesville’s music scene through research as well as insight and tips from the team at Expedia.
“Once we uncovered Gainesville’s devotion to live music, we knew we had to put it under the spotlight,” Mulliner wrote in an email.
Mulliner and her team were mostly impressed, and surprised, by Gainesville’s punk scene.
“We had no idea that there was such a thriving punk following in northern Florida, so it was fun for us to explore that further and see what gets the local crowd on its feet,” she said.
When the Expedia team heard about The Fest, an annual music festival in Gainesville, they knew the city had that certain something unique and different from other places, Mulliner said.
When putting towns in the spotlight, Mulliner and her team wanted to avoid showcasing places that are excessively talked about and already known in the music industry. Instead, they wanted to discover cities from all areas that have their own musical flair, such as Gainesville, Mulliner said.
Mayra Yaji, a 21-year-old UF advertising senior, attends concerts in Gainesville at least twice a month and at least once a month for bigger artists in cities nearby.
“I’m a little surprised Gainesville made this list,” Yaji said. “I do think good music comes out of Gainesville, I just don’t think there is enough to get it to one of the top spots in the country.”
Gainesville made this list with its underground punk music scene in mind, but Yaji thinks Gainesville is missing a lot of variety outside of that scene.
“Not a lot of artists come to Gainesville,” she said. “Whenever I go to big name concerts, I have to go to Orlando or Jacksonville, so it surprises me that Expedia was willing to give Gainesville that title when not a lot of artists come here.”
About a month ago, High Dive held a band showcase which had a pretty decent turnout, Yaji said. Three bands from Gainesville performed at the showcase, but turnout for these shows are not usually like that, Yaji said.
“Sometimes shows are not packed, and it does not help that a lot of these shows are on school nights,” Yaji said.
Yaji’s main conclusion about the music scene in Gainesville is that there needs to be more variety.
Yaji personally likes the alternative/pop rock genre and feels that Gainesville has a lot of that, but there are not enough options for people who enjoy listening to other types of music.
“It’s very hard for them to find concerts that they would like to attend here, so I feel like Gainesville needs to have more of a variety of shows and more venues,” Yaji said.
Yaji thinks if Gainesville was a bigger city, more artists, both big and local, would be more willing to do concerts in the area.
On the other hand, Matthew Fowler, a 20-year-old UF economics and English junior and vice president of the UF record label Swamp Records, thinks the article makes total sense.
“It’s about time that the punk scene in Gainesville gets that kind of recognition,” Fowler said. “A lot of people that don’t live here were sort of surprised when I told them the magnitude of the punk scene.”
Fowler has attended concerts at, and even performed at, one of the venues mentioned in the article: Hardback Cafe.
The atmosphere at Hardback Cafe is very intimate and is generally a smaller venue than others. Having a smaller venue is great for local bands and start-ups because if about 40 people come to the show, the band feels as though they’re playing a sold-out show with a packed room, Fowler said.
Hardback also has a distinct look with moody lighting and spray paint on the walls. The venue is already cool looking, making further decoration often unnecessary, Fowler said.
To Fowler, the best part of the music scene in Gainesville is the comradery.
For example, Fowler has gotten to know a lot of the people who work the doors at the venues.
“As someone who has been playing in bands since I was 15 and started in Gainesville when I first got here, everyone was just very friendly,” Fowler said. “Everyone picks each other up when you fall down. Everyone in the music scene is just easy to work with.”