Bruise Cruise Festival 2012: A dispatch from the rock-‘n’-roll festival at sea

Last month, ALARM contributing writer Mark Craig and photographer Eric Luc stowed away on the second annual Bruise Cruise, a three-day “tropical rock-‘n’-roll vacation” from Miami to the Bahamas. In advance of the pair’s print report, here’s a rundown and glimpse of the seaworthy action.

Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio

“There’s no future in anarchy. I mean, let’s face it…we can do a hell of a lot more damage in the system than outside of it.” – Steven “Stevo” Levy’s final monologue in SLC Punk

For the second year in a row, founders Michelle Cable and Jonas Stein fully booked their partial charter on the Carnival Imagination known as the Bruise Cruise — “a floating Las Vegas casino” as guitarist Petey Dammit of Thee Oh Sees put it. Though most festivals charge way less, rely on headliners that perform in Colosseum-size venues, and typically have attendance in the thousands, the Bruise Cruise bets its success on the pockets of the grassroots rock-‘n’-roll scene.

Damian Abraham of Fucked Up

The festival set 500 “Bruisers” — composed of fans, hired hands, performers, musicians, and media correspondents — in cabins next to 2,000 regular cruisers on a three-day trip from the Port of Miami to the shores of Nassau and back. You have to get creative to entice a demographic that spends most of its leisure time in dives, and the Bruise Cruise delivered. From the Xanadu lounge in the hull of the ship to the night club Señor Frogs in Nassau, the voyage featured more than mere performances by Fucked Up, Thee Oh Sees, King Khan & The Shrines, Kyp Malone (of TV on the Radio), Neil Hamburger, and Jello Biafra. It also featured, among other activities, a dance class fronted by bounce artist Vockah Redu and a Valentine’s Day dating game hosted by unruly Fucked Up front-man Damian Abraham. Now in its second year, the Bruise Cruise is a risky and unorthodox take on the modern music festival.

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees

By incorporating the garage and muscle of Carnival, Cable and Stein were able to, once again, re-imagine the possibilities of an event set on a 70,000-ton pontoon amusement park that’s headed toward the Bahamas. The amenities offered on and below the decks of the Imagination included a giant water slide, a miniature golf course, a casino, endless food, room service, a night club, a salt-water pool, hot tubs (emphasis on the plural), and fine dinning. The tropical setting of Nassau offered resorts, tourist-tailored commerce, and miles of beach all devoid of open-container laws. What was witnessed on board was more than just an intoxicated observation on the Lido Deck. It was an experience full of high-highs and low-lows — a harsh reflection of the 21st Century and contrasting cultures.

Vockah Redu

King Khan

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