No one could accuse Phillip Roffman, the hyper-energetic head of South Florida promotion arm Subculture, of thinking small. Since the twentysomething formed his company last year, he’s already helmed a handful of successful themed events in Fort Lauderdale that crossed the borders of the city’s underground culture. An event dubbed Sincerely Yours, Marty McFly invited area bands and artists to gorge on a heap of nostalgic retro-futurism, while the party By Way of Wes Anderson took things in a twee direction.
Now, though, Roffman and Subculture, along with 3J Hospitality, are launching their most ambitious project to date: Block x Blog. A day- long shebang scheduled for Saturday, April 20, the festival will take over three venues simultaneously — Green Room, Revolution, and America’s Backyard — while presenting more than 40 artists. The goal, Roffman says, is to shine a light on Fort Lauderdale’s creative community and attempt to solidify its emerging identity.
“There are people who are awesome and who are communicating such great things within our environment in South Florida,” he says. “I wanted to create a festival that was for them, to really show what they’re doing within their community.”
That m.o. is apparent just from Subculture’s high-concept approach to naming the festival. The “block” in question is, of course, the chunk of the downtown Fort Lauderdale core that houses the festival’s three venues. The “blog” part of it, meanwhile, refers to many of the event’s sponsors — publications and sites like New Times Broward-Palm Beach, South Florida Music Obsessed, Salty Eggs, and, of course, PureHoney.
But the thinking goes beyond that, says Roffman. “The name of it came about in the sense of a pixel. If you look at just one pixel, it’s a pixel, and that’s it,” he says. “But if you look at multiple pixels together and they all have their own associated job or color, you start to build a picture. The festival itself was built pixel by pixel, the greatest people from the community.”
In practical terms for the area music fan, this means a six-hour buffet of South Florida’s artistic riches. Starting at 10pm, each venue within the event presents a distinct lineup of both visual and music artists from across genres. Many of those, naturally, represent Broward, from chillwave favorite Millionyoung, to trip- hoppers Astrea Corporation, to left-field MCs like Bluebird and Protoman, to one- man experimental rock phenom Boxwood. Others, however, hail from further south: Jacuzzi Boys, Krisp, Lil Daggers, Plains, AbdeCaf, Afrobeta, and Deaf Poets, The Hongs, to name a few, all come from Miami.
But hosting cross-county-line acts in Fort Lauderdale proper — along with the real booking wildcard, Brooklyn dance act Holy Ghost! — is part of the point, says Roffman. “When we made the lineup, we decided not to be entirely Fort Lauderdale centric so we wanted to have some friends and family come along. The reason why is because we wanted to have a diverse audience as possible,” he says. “When you start mixing those audiences together, they start communicating, and you start blurring that line between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, where it really becomes ‘South Florida’ and we’re all doing something together.”
Still, Roffman sees Fort Lauderdale specifically, rather than other locales throughout South Florida, as particularly fertile ground for an event like Block x Blog. “Fort Lauderdale is ten times more accepting. People are ten times more adaptive to change here. There’s just more of an acceptance, of, ‘Okay, what can be done next?’” He says. “I think Fort Lauderdale has an awesome opportunity in the fact that it’s in an embryonic stage where things are really starting to happen.”
As evidence of this, Roffman points to Radio-Active Records’ increasing event programming, and Green Room’s renewed curatorial energy as proof, among more recent developments in the scene. And he also feels primed to help unearth more hidden jewels through future Subculture events after Block x Blog.
“At the end of the day, some of these artists are really wonderful, but they’re never going to get communicated because they’re not getting out there the right way and don’t necessarily know how,” he says. “The idea of Subculture is to go into areas that don’t have much obvious culture and show people what the fuck is going on.”