We all miss Ex-Breathers. In four short years the Tallahassee trio managed to capture the best of punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, and noise rock, condensing into one brutal ball of aggression. The band's music was angry yet concerned, harsh but cathartic, and free of limits and any genre restrictions. They worked together as a band to create music with an unbridled energy and spirit, pushing issues of mental health, mortality, and social concerns. The band's live shows were mesmerizing as they tore through each and every set with impeccably tight fury. There were times where I wasn't sure I could believe what I was seeing and hearing, but that's just Ex-Breathers for you. On top of all that, David Settle, Jack Vermillion, and Adam Berkowitz are three of the sweetest and most upstanding people you can ever hope to meet. It's all part of the magic that make Ex-Breathers such an important band.
We gathered some thoughts from friends, peers, and those who have worked together with them over the years, but let this be a "living" tribute. If you have something you'd like to add, please send us an email and we'll keep this going. Empty your pocket, loosen the grip.
CATHERINE VIANALE (WVFS, Lingua Franca):
"There are countless happy memories I can remember from past Ex-Breathers shows, but my favorite dates back to a show at a Tallahassee venue formerly called Pug's Live in January of 2015. Ex-Breathers had graciously agreed to wrap up the show that night, and not only did they play as ferociously and engagingly as they always do, but there was a special surprise for the second half of their set. After playing about 8-10 of their own songs, they immediately broke into a full Slint cover set. (One more time for the people in the back; full. Slint. cover set.) According to my sources, this was the second longest set they've ever played (to my knowledge), excluding their final show also in Tallahassee, and it was about 45 minutes long. Everyone around me was smiling, singing the lyrics along with Jack and David, and enjoying the unparalleled stage presence that is uniquely the band's. By the end of their set, the three of them looked like they had just ran an uphill marathon, but being the tenacious punk rockers they are they were smiling and talking with their many many friends and being just as gracious and kind as always.
I was not able to attend their last shows and I am extremely saddened by this, but mere fact that I was able to live in a town, and play shows nonetheless, with a band full of incredibly talented, kind, and inclusive people is something I will always look back on very fondly. I want to thank David, Jack, and Adam for writing 3 incredible albums that we all have to listen to, and I look forward to seeing what's in store next. You guys are punk legends, and thank you for all the great times."
STEVE HARTLETT (Stove, Ovlov):
"Ex-Breathers are everything I want from hardcore and so much more... One of those bands where the stars aligned for the 3 of them to meet up. It had to be the 3 of them and no one else. I've never met anyone that liked TV as much as me until meeting these boys. I remember watching them at a festival in Virginia and it being one of the craziest shows I've ever seen. Anita from Disco Doom got us all very wasted and even she was going crazy for them. I think Dave punched someone in the crowd like while they were playing cause they kept like knocking the mic into his teeth or something. It was bad ass though. I was afraid to talk to them after watching that set...Turns out they are the 3 most sweetest and polite little boys I'll ever meet."
ROSIE RICHESON (Night Witch):
"Ex-Breathers has always been a staple for me during my time here in Tallahassee. David and Jack have both lived in this town for 10 years and Adam for his whole life. They have not only contributed so much to this town as musicians (between the three of them, there are at least 20 bands that have come and gone) but also made their mark on Tallahassee and worked together to make our town great. It's easy to move here and see the three of these people interact in the community as the some of the most fun, likable, and crush-worthy people in town and feel intimidated to talk to them. And lord only knows that intimidation sky rockets as soon as you see the three of them get on stage together and make music.
But as soon as you work up the courage to actually go talk to one of these dream boats, you learn that they are a bunch of goofballs just like you who are trying to make music they like for the scene they love.. I'll always remember when David brought me to Lofty for the first time and talked with me about feminism in punk, how Adam somehow inspired and completely annihilated my desire to play drums literally every time he played, and how Jack has always make me laugh and feel encouraged as I navigated my way through punk. I'll never forget the first time I saw them play at The Shark Tank was the time I decided I wanted to scream in a band. And the first time I ever fronted a band was singing a goofy/terrible version of "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen for Bleeder's last show. Thank you Jack, David and Adam for making music that was integral to so many people's experiences in Tallahassee and thank you for being accessible, genuine and beautiful people. Your music will be missed, but your influence will live on in so many of our hearts. Looking forward to ripping off more of your songs <3"
JUSTIN PIZZOFERRATO (Producer):
"Ex-Breathers were one of my favorite bands to roll through Sonelab in 2015. We tracked and mixed Past Tense in less than 5 full days, which is fucking impressive. The way it should be, even. They traveled from FL to make that record w/ me, which is touching and badass. From their minivan to their riffs, I loved this band. They were a model band and the silver lining to them calling it a day, is that they'll keep making great music in one form or another."
JONATHAN NASRALLAH & JEN GAVIN (Friends):
"When I first started going to punk shows in Tallahassee, I was an indie rock kid completely out of my element. A lot of punks talk a big game about inclusivity, but when you’re the college freshman wearing the wrong band shirt, it’s easy to feel like you don’t belong. Luckily, people like David, Adam, and Jack usually aren’t too far away.
The first time I met Jack was outside a house show I went to by myself. I didn’t know anyone there and I fully expected to stare at my phone the entire time bands weren’t playing. Instead he struck up a conversation with me and made sure I felt welcome. Although I never stopped wearing the wrong shirts, soon I’d be seeing Ex-Breathers about once a month for the next four years.
When they aren’t touring, the members of Ex-Breathers are constantly putting in everything they have to keep independent music thriving in Tallahassee: from starting labels and recording local bands, to booking touring acts that otherwise might skip Florida entirely. I found out much after the fact that David had been instrumental in setting up the first DIY venue I ever stepped foot in, one of several in a chain of spots shut down by the city. A few years later he was running the space where I booked my first shows by myself. There’s an extra level of defiance required to stick around in a college town that’s at best indifferent to the local scene.
You might not expect to find such a strong DIY community in Tallahassee, Florida, but Ex-Breathers never cared much for the rules. It didn’t matter if you were an indie rock college kid or a lifelong punk local - if you went to shows in Tallahassee, Ex-Breathers was your favorite band. But we always knew they were more than just a band. To hear anyone who knew them tell it, they were an institution."
NICOLE RIFKIN (Artist):
I don't know them personally, but I have a tiny bit of input: I grew up in Gainesville, Florida and I think one of the main things I learned from living on the periphery of the southern punk scene was to appreciate bands that made you feel that 20 minutes is like 10 years while at the same time feeling like that time passed way too quick.
I feel like when you live in Florida there's a band that pops up every couple of months that blows up and fizzles out; maybe it's the heat that gets people bored or just the transient nature of small college towns, but very few bands actually stick around in your memory as phenomenal live presence and as being just thoroughly good.
I caught Ex-breathers with Pile at the Atlantic about a year ago and it made me realize what's special about this particular facet of the music scene: the bands that fill in the long voids from town to town, who make music that you regret not knowing about until seeing them by chance.
Ex-Breathers made me feel less embarrassed about telling people I'm from Florida.
I love them because they capture a lot of things I love about many different bands: dynamic tonality, a mastery of borderline droning verses and electric choruses and breakdowns, a live show that gives you goosebumps while simultaneously hyper aware of a lot of elbows being thrown around you and getting dunked in a lot of cheap beer. It's very difficult for me to categorize them as hardcore punk because they're so much more than that. Or I guess were. Now that's a sad thought."
DAVID WOLFSON (WVFS):
"The impact that Ex-Breathers had on Tallahassee's music scene over the past five years is immeasurable. From the outset of their existence, they were basically the right band in the right place at the right time, and their presence in this town has both helped to grow things locally, as well as put Tallahassee on the map for a number of bands on tour and for the music press.
Part of what I think made Ex-Breathers special and so well-suited to their time and place was their music's combination of hardcore intensity and more genre-challenging elements like dynamics, unpredictable tempo changes, and sometimes pure melodicism. Because of this, Ex-Breathers were a band that was able to appeal to people who aren't typically into punk, while also being a band that the punk scene in Tallahassee could get behind. This has been crucial to the scene as it's grown over the past few years, going from something smaller and more punk-centric to something larger and more diverse. (And it has grown a lot, as anyone who has been going to shows here over the past few years can attest.) They were a band that bridged gaps and drew in all kinds of people in who may not have found their way to the DIY scene otherwise.
On another level, Ex-Breathers were also a band that represented different things to different people. Listening to their music, I've always felt like I could hear more than just what they were singing about. Ideals such as honesty, open-mindedness, artistic integrity, self-awareness, and the value of hard work shone through in the way Ex-Breathers operated as a band; echoing the ideological appeals of groups like Fugazi, The Minutemen, and countless other bands that have connected with people in ways that affect their lives outside of music. The appeal of Ex-Breathers is, in a lot of ways, synonymous with the appeal of punk rock. It's lifestyle music that encourages us by example to be the best that we can be. May we all try to do that in their memory."
RONNIE FRANCISCO (Protocol, Big Heet, Whateverer, etc):
"I will always cherish Ex-Breathers for not only being a very creative and talented band but for also for being my best friends. Ex-Breathers' first show was at an old house venue called the OAF House. The OAF House would host many shows in Tallahassee in a small little shed next to the house. Conradi Fest, which was a very short-lived DIY fest that took place on Conradi Street, was the first time everyone could see Ex-Breathers. Ex-Breathers' set was insane and felt very energetic and fun! Being able to watch Adam hit super hard and play insanely fast and also seeing David and Jack shred, it was definitely a site to see. I remember my brother yelling "WHAT THE FUCK?!!!!!" during the start of their second song, "Sleep". They released "Demo 2011" around that time which most songs would later be re-recorded for a split with another local band, Atrocitus. They eventually went on to play more shows and I would fill-in every now and again, if Adam couldn't make it.
"Collision" was released later in 2012 and it was a stellar achievement. All self-funded and self-recorded, Settle was able to capture his own bands sound very well on that record. The album was tracked in their old practice space in November/December. I remember the boxes coming in for the record and being insanely excited for this band and all they had accomplished. The record to this day I hold very dearly. They went on to do a few tours up the east coast and mid-west areas. In October 2013, Ex-Breathers was planning to go up the east and mid-west areas and also going through Texas. Adam was not able to do any touring at that point and I was free, so Jack and Settle had asked me to fill-in for the tour. The 3 week tour was quite the experience, a small van with no radio or tape player, we went crazy. Jack brought a ukulele and him and I would try and write songs and free-style. It was the most fun I have ever had on tour. The shows were great and seeing friends in Springtime, Brief Lives, and many other friends in different cities was awesome. During the tour, either Jack or David brought up the idea of doing a double drummer show. I was very excited about thi,s after having just watched latter-Fugazi shows. The practices were really grueling, Adam was just so insanely good and took a lot out of me to keep up. The show took place in December 2013 at an old space called the Office Lounge in Railroad Square. The show was packed with people and was such a fun experience being able to share with them.
2014 saw the release of "EXBX", a 12 song, 11-minute album. This release brought in high energy and fast paced songs! I remember the sleeves for the records not coming in time so Settle just decided to print a short run with some hilarious pictures inside of the sleeves. From 2014-2015, Ex-Breathers toured consistently, they would be back for a month at one point and then just leave again. Still during that time they were able to play in all of their other respective local bands. In 2015, for the tour that went up the east coast, they were going to record for their next release, "Past Tense". Tallahassee was the first show for the tour and they had a benefit show at a local restaurant that we all frequent called Bird's. The place was packed and it was awesome seeing so many people that donated for the show, and luckily they produced something very incredible. "Past Tense" was released on Exploding in Sound Records, a label that we all cherish and are obsessed with. When I heard the news that it was coming out on EIS I went ballistic! I even remember when they were sending "Collision" out and they sent it to EIS in hopes of them taking a chance on them. January 2016, Ex-Breathers wanted to do another double drummer which took place at Club Downunder which is a venue affiliated with Florida State University. The show was awesome, I was particularly excited to play songs from the new album since they have been stuck in my head for a while. Ex-Breathers played their "farewell" show on May 20, 2016 at Sidebar, a 31 song set and one encore (sorry guys) that was crazy to experience. I had a lot of emotions going on throughout the show since I have seen this band so many freaking times and they constantly impress me. They were on fire that night, and everyone there was going crazy. I'm sure this isn't the end for Ex-Breathers and I truly to appreciate the music they create and also very proud of my best friends for all that they have done musically and personally. Ex-Breathers is playing the Fest in Gainesville this year and I hope more shows will happen."
JEREMY PROBST (Naps):
"The first time I saw Ex-Breathers was in January 2014. They were opening for Speedy Ortiz and Grass Is Green, with fellow Tallahassee locals Buffao Buffalo (RIP) and Remote Sensing (their only show, RIP). The show was at the Office Lounge, a short-lived DIY space (RIP one of many) in a warehouse in the artsy/industrial part of town.
Watching Ex-Breathers for the first time, I didn't realize that I would see this band countless times more and find myself further engaged and invested with every show. Even less predictable was that I would get to book them for many of my own shows, play many shows with them, get know each of the members individually, and that I would buy 3 different t-shirts of theirs.
David, Adam, and Jack are three of the nicest dudes I've met in Tallahassee, and they and their band(s) stand as some of the main reasons I got involved in DIY music and booking shows. I and the environment in Tallahassee really wouldn't be the same without them or their music.
Being on tour during their last show in Tallahassee was such an unbelievable bummer, but at least I have their records and the memories of a ton of shows with them. And a video of their full two-drummer set at Club Downunder. RIP the best band ever. \m/"
DAVE COLLIS (Slow Mass, My Dad):
I remember on the last My Dad tour they hoped on our Philly show. I was maybe a little annoyed, just because I had a feeling before the tour started that it was going to be our last run so I wanted our home-away-from-home show to be extra special and only close friends. Regardless, I had heard good things about them from the Gnarwhal dudes so I was fine with it. When I met them earlier in the day, I thought they were really dorky haha but very nice. I hadn’t listened to them much prior (since I knew I was going to see them in person) and learned a valuable lesson once their set started:
goddamn you can’t judge a book by it’s cover
Their set was FURIOUS! Just all of my favorite moments of Capsule, Fugazi, Gauze, Jesus Lizard, all in one sound coming from three dudes in 90 second bursts. It was absolutely incredible and I’ve been a huge fan since. May the future hold nothing but bright for David, Jack and Adam.
MARCOS GOSSI (Texas Is Funny, Vetter Kids):
"I have a very distinct memory about the first time I saw EB; it was in New York at Shea Stadium for the TIFR showcase during CMJ. The trio seemed so unassuming upon first meeting, so harmless in their demeanor. They walked around the venue in a reserved way, politely talking to people they knew and in a way that was so modest that I began to wonder how this was going to translate live. After all, their brand of punk was one that was profoundly brash; relying on a voluminous power that was not at this point on display. However, when their turn came, they took to the stage with a motivated attention that was hard to miss. You could tell these three had done this more times than would be possible to count, and yet it all seemed so important to them. Nothing was overlooked, everything had purpose. And just like that, they turned it on. What "it" was is hard to explain, but I like to think of it as a combination of a high degree of focused-passion and a machine meant to crush your chest in with unrelenting pressure. The strength of these guys was emotive, moving and authentic in every way. At one point, Adam's kick drum kept slipping forward, and I think for most bands that frustration would have slowed things up a bit, maybe even halted them. But nah, they laughed about it a bit, said "fuck" a few times and continued blazing forward at a pace that was uniquely theirs.
By the time EB finished I was thrashed, my ears gleefully ringing, I came to the conclusion that I was totally fucking wrong to ever have thought twice about how incredible these guys were. They set a standard with everything they did that was far and above most bands, and they did it with an absolute cool. A confidence that allowed their audience and their peers to trust them in all facets. It was a joy to work with them, and I know that they will continue to inspire and put people into awe with whatever comes next. Godspeed; good luck fellas."
ELIZABETH GEORGES (Friend):
Where do I start? When I think about the bands that have heavily influenced me throughout my life, you guys will always come to mind. Never have I known the individuals of a band altogether have such a dynamic vision. One that artistically experiments the structure and space between quiet melody, fast rhythm and loud noise along with so many other combusting influences and deeper meanings. I have never really had that type of transformative real time listening experience before Exbx. This has opened so much for me musically and I’m SO grateful for that.
Jack, it’s unreal to me how far you have gone with singing and songwriting. While listening to your songs I’ve felt such a range of highs and lows. Everything from sweet memory trips of our youth to emotional epiphanies or profound realizations to those not-so-sweet socks to the gut [whoooohooo]. You’ve learned a lot about life and yourself through this band and I’ve never been more proud of anyone. You are an incredibly committed musician with a voice that will always melt my heart. Thank you, always. I love you and I am super excited for what is to come.
Adam, watching you play drums.. Fuuuuuck. Amazing. Everything from your minimal percussion to full out kick drums so rowdy I can hardly take it. Lets me know my heart still beats. Will miss you, buddy.
David, when your guitar starts spazzin.. damn.. it’s a beautiful thing! I’m always stoked to be listening to your playing. And that voice! So activated and aware and honest.
Watching the three of you punx making music together from your first tour to the last, has been heavily influential and I feel so lucky to have been an audience of. Not to mention all the smiles and good time energy. There will be a big hole in the heart of the Tallahassee music scene without Exbreathers, nevertheless I’m incredibly stoked for the open doors ahead for you dudes."
CHAPPY HULL (Gnarwhal):
"It's very hard to find three people you can get in a van with for a month driving almost eight hours a day and never feel any tension, but with Ex-Breathers I found that. I already knew they were nice and were a great band and throughout the tour they completely blew past those expectations and were some of the most fun people I've ever met, destroying their set night after night after night.
I will miss their band severely but I know whatever they do after will be great no matter what."
RYAN CANAVAN (Hex Records):
"A few years ago I was at Gainesville Fest and preparing for a wild weekend full of friends, sun, music I love, late nights, and also trying to discover some new stuff I might not have known about before. So as I scanned the monumental Fest guide for bands I might be interested in (based on their occasionally-reliable band descriptions) one stood out to me as Ex-Breathers were described as a mix of Quicksand, Fugazi, and fast punk. What a combination! It's like they nailed my interests down to a fine and focused point.
I set out to see this band no matter what and when they did perform I think they may have been one of the top three bands I saw that weekend. The description was apt. But the band also brought a heavier, thrashy element to things that was also exciting to me. I introduced myself afterwards and made sure they knew that I would be happy to host them should they ever make their way up to the Syracuse, NY area (which they eventually did).
It was only after talking to the members more that I discovered that they all had a long history of playing in numerous bands, always being creative, contributing to their local scene by releasing their own records, booking their own shows, and establishing (and running) some of the spaces that they (and many other bands) played in. And from there it wasn't just the music they created that excited me, it was the creative spirit and DIY ethic the band extolled in spades that made me realize that there were good people making this music. People who shared the same sense of community, ideas, creativity, and drive to continually push the boundaries of this punk rock thing in positive ways.
I ended up putting some money into a release the band curated, and then co-released "Past Tense" with Exploding In Sound because I believe in what Ex-Breathers do (and what they will hopefully continue to do in whatever limited capacity that may take for now). I'm happy to have contributed in some way(s) to a band of very exceptional people that does wonderful things, and hopefully I will be able to continue to foster that creativity in the future."
HUNTER KEENE (Pudge, Frail):
"Three unassuming dudes walk into a shitty French quarter bar, set up their shit and proceed to clear out the room in a matter of minutes. There was probably 8 people there, David broke a string and played a few songs on a borrowed guitar. They were the tightest loudest band I had ever seen playing for essentially their friends. That's Nola for you. 25 minutes of nonstop tinnitus later, the three of them packed their gear up, and went back to being the three nerdy guys hanging around the bar on a rainy Saturday night."
ALEC CAKEBREAD (Exploding In Sound, Kids Having Kids):
I don't know if there could be a band more "up my alley" than Ex-Breathers. Past Tense is a perfect record and I just feel lucky I got to see them live. Don't be gone too long.
DAN GOLDIN (Exploding In Sound, Post-Trash):
Ex-Breathers made me believe in punk rock. They changed my listening habits for the better and I consider myself honored to know them and to have had the chance to work with them on what I truly believe is a legendary album. I first met the band in Harrisonburg, VA during Macrock and in our very first interaction they were seemingly as excited to see Disco Doom as I was, and I knew I had met some great guys right then and there. Later that same night I saw them play and was absolutely floored. To make music so heavy and utterly crushing without any sense of machismo or "scene" bullshit is rare, and Ex-Breathers have always remained focused and driven in the shows they play, the energy they exude, the albums they released and the way they rep for Tallahassee (and they rep HARD). It's admirable. They'd be a band worth praise if they were merely decent, but the fact that they were as incredible as can be makes them one of the best. The only thing that can rival Ex-Breathers' music is perhaps their kindness, and the world could use more of that. Ex-Breathers is forever and David, Jack, and Adam will always be EIS family to me.
Being a teacher, it’s difficult to go to shows in Gainesville on weekdays. Shows here rarely start before 10:00pm, and the idea of only getting four hours of sleep and then trying to maintain peace among ninth graders is unpleasant to say the least. For this reason, I did not attend the last Ex-Breathers show in Gainesville before their hiatus. It was on a Monday, it started at 10:00pm, and because of this I would have spent the entire time stressing about the amount of sleep I’d be getting instead of enjoying the show. That’s not very punk, but that’s the way it is.
Needless to say, I was glad to find out their last pre-hiatus show was in Tallahassee that Friday. Honestly, I thought, it would probably be a better show. Seeing the hometown heroes play on their home turf for Tallahassee’s always excited attendees seemed like the best way to send off the band who have definitely become my favorite band in Florida and probably one of my favorite bands full stop, period, end of story.
I arrived in Tallahassee right before the show, had a beer at a friend’s house, and headed out to the Side Bar Theater. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Tallahassee in the past six or so years, so I knew what to expect: excellent bands and a stoked crowd.
I am always impressed going to shows in Tallahassee. There’s a seemingly endless stream of fantastic local bands including some familiar faces and new ones that pop out of nowhere. And there always seems to be a very positive, excited crowd of people cheering them on. While I love Gainesville, the too-cool-for-school vibe can be off the charts sometimes. Tallahassee always seems to be the polar opposite attitude-wise.
The first band I saw that night included one of the best drummers and best overall dudes in the world: the indomitable Ronnie Francisco. I had never heard of or heard this band before – honestly, I didn’t catch the name and I feel awful about that – but man did they slay. Seeing their Negative Approach brand of hardcore against the late-night-show background lights was quite the juxtaposition, but their set was enrapturing. And I wasn’t even drunk yet.
Between bands, I had a quick chat with Jack Vermillion, bassist for Ex-Breathers and fan of calling me “Mr. Kicks.” I apologized for not making their Gainesville show; I explained I had work the next morning and the idea of chasing around 14-year-olds in summer mode on two hours of sleep didn’t seem particularly appealing. He explained he would be getting about that much sleep that night, since the show would be going a bit late because they’re playing thirty one goddamn songs.
So I guess I did make the right choice. I assume that’s pretty much every song Ex-Breathers has written – I haven’t gone back and counted – so Tallahassee would be getting a special send-off that would have maybe seemed overlong and self-indulgent in Gainesville.
Two bands later and Ex-Breathers was up. They nearly packed the fairly large Side Bar Theater, and the crowd expressed their unbridled support. My recollection is they told the crowd how expansive their set was before they started, though I may be making that up. I was a bit toasty at the time. Regardless, in my memory (or maybe in my imagination) the crowd reacted with unanimous approval.
You see, Tallahassee folks love Ex-Breathers. And that love is well earned. Not only are Ex-Breathers an incredibly talented band, they are some of the hardest working dudes I have ever met. In the years I have been familiar with Tallahassee’s music scene, I have seen David Settle and Jack Vermillion doing everything they possibly can to promote local bands of all sorts. They’re always booking shows, working shows, trying to get venues going, booking tours, manning the sound boards, recording albums, and promoting new bands.
And this is why I am kind of sad to see Ex-Breathers go when they are finally getting some attention nationally. The Tallahassee music scene is enthusiastic, diverse, and dense with talent. It reminds me of the mythos of Gainesville’s 90s heyday: tons of people playing in tons of bands, mostly in houses or short-lived venues, largely going unnoticed. And, unlike Gainesville, many of these bands aren’t fronted by drunken white dudes. There’s women, LGBTQ folks, people of color – people that get pushed to the margins in Gainesville – playing with what seems like the full support of the community.
But I am coming at this from the outside looking in. I am sure there are cracks and wrinkles in this idealized image I have about their scene that I would see if I were there on a daily basis. But I can’t help but feel energized, inspired, and a little envious every time I head there for a local show. The folks in the Ex-Breathers have, for as long as I’ve been familiar with Tallahassee’s music scene, been doing everything they can to promote this kind of inclusiveness and positivity.
But back to the show. Needless to say, it was fantastic. They tore through 31 songs, including a new song that inspired me to write, “Ex-Breathers played a brand new song that’s sick as fuck” in my phone’s notes app. They barely missed a beat when Jack’s bass strap broke and he had to play sitting down. The bass drum head had a tear that expanded pretty intensely through the hour and a half they played. It was a fitting send-off.
And normally a 31 song set would be an indulgence fitting for Bruce Springsteen, not a Fugazi-esque hardcore band only a few years old. But when they finished their 31st song, the crowd enthusiastically demanded one more. And Ex-Breathers obliged.
I left feeling energized by Tallahassee’s positive vibes and maybe a little drunk. The post-show Waffle House trek was clutch and probably saved me from a much rougher morning. I’m going to miss Ex-Breathers while they’re gone, but after heading to the delicious Sweet Pea Café in the morning and seeing poor Jack making vegan lunches in what I was sure was a deliriously tired state, I realized that at least two of these guys aren’t going anywhere. Plus, the Ex-Breathers isn’t exactly about those guys – they are a product of a music scene that goes woefully unnoticed but keeps churning out killer bands.
My message to you: Check out Tallahassee bands. They don’t have the Ex-Breathers to carry their flag across the country anymore – at least for the time being – but I’d be surprised if another band didn’t emerge sometime soon.