Walking in downtown Dunedin last Saturday night, you could hear the faint harmonization of an acoustic duo singing on the porch of The Honu. But the closer you walked towards Caldonia Brewery on Main Street, the more heavy guitar riffs and guttural screaming started drowning out the soft tunes of the cover singers. Dunedin was in the middle of its first-ever metal show.
Dunedin native doom-metal band Pipe Dreamer was sick of driving to Tampa or St. Petersburg to play shows, and decided it was finally time to bring metal to its hometown. After searching for a venue that would agree to host a night of music much harder than what the charming town is used to, Caldonia Brewing finally gave the metal band a tentative yes.
Band members Zack Jones, Lex Carr, James and Nate crossed their fingers and promoted the show feverishly—emphasizing that the crowd needed to respect the venue and people around them.
“Normally Dunedin caters to tourists, singer-songwriters and jam bands, but I know that there are people here that want to see metal and punk,” Pipe Dreamer singer and guitarist Jones told CL. “People just want to headbang, hang out and drink beer.”
The members of Pipe Dreamer thought the show with fellow metal bands Gullwing and Frostfang would go well— but not this well. The brewery hit capacity by 8 p.m., as soon as the first band started its set. When Pipe Dreamer started to play at 9:30 p.m., there was a line out the front door. Tourists and Dunedin natives alike were walking past Caldonia Brewery wondering what everyone was waiting for.
Inside was roughly 100 people enjoying the heavy riffs and melodic breakdowns of Dunedin’s up-and-coming metal acts. A small crowd around the front of the bands were aggressively head-banging to the booming of the kick drum, while the rest of the crowd, consisting of metal-heads in their mid-20s to mid-30s, head-nodded with craft brews in hand.
Although this was Dunedin’s first-ever metal show, there wasn’t a single person in the audience who was visibly confused or having a bad time. Everyone was there because they wanted to be.
The venue itself was an unassuming place to have a metal show, far from the dim-lighted DIY spots that usually give hard music a home. With NBA basketball sprawled on the TVs above the bar and a disco ball ironically spinning above the crowd head-banging to Gullwing—the whole scene proved in an intuitive way that metal can, and will, exist anywhere.
Being that punk, hardcore, and metal bands are limited to about two venues in the Tampa Bay area, both fans of the music and people that play it often have to choose between Lucky You Tattoo in Pinellas Park and The Brass Mug in Tampa. These two venues are vital to the pulsing scene of underground hardcore, metal and punk—but the entire umbrella of hard music shouldn’t have to be limited to just two venues.
DIY shows at new venues like Dunedin’s Caldonia Brewing is exactly what Tampa Bay’s heavy music scene needs.
“I’ve been in this scene for 30 years, and this area is just a vacuum for this type of music,” said Mark Couture, the bouncer at Dunedin’s first metal show. “We needed something like this, it’s almost miraculous in a sense.”
After a wildly unexpected turnout and great performances across the board, Pipe Dreamer was ecstatic that its attempt to bring metal to its hometown was such a success. The post-metal quartet, who just released an EP on Bandcamp, set this show up with high hopes and moderate expectations.
“I knew I had a lot of friends in Dunedin that would come out, but I didn't expect everyone else that lives here to be excited about it too,” Jones said with a smile.
There’s nothing set in stone yet, but prospects look good for a second metal show to take place at downtown Dunedin’s Caldonia, the newspaper factory-turned-brewery. All three bands were paid from a percentage of bar sales—and the bar was visibly packed all night.
The crowd didn’t get too rowdy, to Pipe Dreamer’s relief. Dunedin very well might be on its way to becoming the next hotbed for Tampa Bay metal.
Keep an eye out for the melodic doom-metal band’s debut album later this year. You can get a taste of Pipe Dreamer’s first LP if you download its singles for free on Bandcamp.
Editor's Note: Band members James and Nate asked CL not to share their last names.
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