Las Nubes Present: South Florida Bands We Played in (or With) at Churchill’s During Its Final Decade

Las Nubes © Sal Rispoli
Las Nubes © Sal Rispoli
Miami’s Las Nubes offer an introduction to the loud and proud South Florida music scene with a mixtape of artists they shared the stage with in Little Haiti’s infamous (and legendary) Churchill’s Pub.
by Emile Milgrim, Las Nubes
Stream: “Tormentas Malsanas” – Las Nubes

Churchill’s, “A Sort Of English Pub,” opened in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood in 1979.

Initially called “Churchill’s Hideaway,” it claimed to be the venue in the United States that had hosted the most live music acts ever. While this isn’t exactly verifiable, it could be correct – there was live music every night, and oftentimes there would be upwards of five acts, even on a Monday. There are many “histories” and accounts of Churchill’s, in writing, photos, urban legend, and a now-infamous feature documentary that never happened, but aimed to tell the story of the pub up until, and during its scandalous ownership change in 2014.

Most recently, a documentary short was made by (I’m told) someone who never ever went to the place. That was its own local music scene scandal, with some of the scene’s pillar characters declining to appear or even be interviewed for it. I haven’t seen it, but if I had to take a gamble, some of it might be right… most of it is probably just mentions of Churchill’s’ legendarily filthy bathrooms. I wonder, did they even bother to recall the decades there was a laundry room on site? You’d think that a minor detail, but The Laundry Room Squelchers are called that for a reason.

The laundry room is a good entry point for this playlist. It serves to illustrate exactly what went down at Churchill’s over its 40+ year existence until closing in March 2020, never to reopen (sorry to those of you still holding on, I really don’t think it’s gonna happen). Why the laundry room? Because performances happened in there, and on the patio, the floor, the bar top, the pool table, out front, on the side, in the parking lot, on the street, on the roof, and yes, even in the bathrooms. Sometimes they even happened on the stage, the carpet of which was somehow more disgusting to me than the bathrooms ever were.

Churchill’s is where most of us in the South Florida punk / metal / noise / experimental / rock-ish / whatever the hell you want to call it–scene cut our teeth, or rather, scraped them. I’m not here to tell you a bunch of stories with words though, and there’s definitely no new chisme about our “beloved shithole” no matter how much we want it. Instead, my Las Nubes bandmate, Ale Campos and I, have compiled a playlist, eschewing brevity with the laborious title “South Florida Bands We Played In Or With At Churchill’s During Its Final Decade.”

It’s important to note that collectively, Ale and I attended or played shows at Churchill’s since the late ’90s.

However, since the purpose of this playlist is to help disseminate Las Nubes’ sophomore album, Tormentas Malsanas, we’ve zeroed in on a tidy decade (coincidentally also Churchill’s’ last), where Las Nubes (née Smut), as well as other projects Ale and I played in, were very regular performers there. This is by no means all-inclusive or a list of “favorites.”

Las Nubes’ songs have a consistent air of saudade, a Portuguese word loosely understood as “a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia.”

If anything, this playlist is our saudade-soaked love letter to South Florida’s music scene, as it was when we still had a place where anything could go. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video montage of International Noise Conference 2013, when bar manager Nicky Bowe did a burnout on his motorcycle INSIDE the bar. – Emile Milgrim

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Bands featured: Las Nubes / Holly Hunt / Palomino Blond / Dracula / Antifaces / Baker Acted / Devalued / Snakehole / Drül / Nunhex / Consular / Ben Katzman’s Degreaser / Gouge Away / WRONG / Bleeth / Wastelands / Mr. Entertainment & the Pookiesmackers / Shark Valley Sisters / Sadie Hawkins / Human Fluid Rot / The Barely Damned / Haute Tension / Shroud Eater / Yankee Roses / Dim Past / Phaxas / Sharlyn Evertsz / Montage / Afrobeta / Shitstorm / Rat Bastard/Laundry Room Squelchers

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Tormentas Malsanas by Las Nubes

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