An inside look at FAU bonfire’s bands

Emily Bloch

Mike Burdman and his uncle Jerry Only repping FAU. Photo by Emily Bloch.

The smell of Sharpie overpowers The Misfits’ trailer — the band’s home for the next three days.

Singer and bassist Jerry Only sits across from his guitarist, Dez Cadena, in a small, grey upholstered booth. They sign an assembly line of FAU bonfire posters. The walls are covered in old flyers from shows the band has played.

They just played a sold out show in Connecticut with hardcore band Subzero. Before that was a festival in the Czech Republic. And now a college campus.

“I feel very good about playing tonight,” Only said. “It seems like it’s going to be a great time. The kids seem very cool.”

Their infamous skull logo has been seen on everyone, from music celebs such as Avril Lavigne, and N’sync, to Sons of Anarchy actor, Henry Rollins. Green Day and Metallica are just two of many bands that have attempted covers of their songs.

Thirty-five years later since the band first got together, they’re still playing sold out tours. So how did they end up at FAU? Well, let’s just say, family matters. When Student Government Coordinator Mike Burdman was putting together this year’s bonfire, he recalled his uncle Jerry telling him about how he wanted to play it next time. And that “next time” ended up being the Fifth Annual Fall Bonfire.

“We’ve got everybody here,” Only said beaming as he talked about his nephew, Burdman, and the rest of his family.

Opening band for the event, Heart of the Matter, features guitarist Jerry Caiafa, aka: Only’s son. Caiafa has served as Only’s tech at times and has also gotten to open up for some shows with his band. “My son’s been touring with us for about six years now,” he said.

“Michael, hasn’t yet though,” Only said about Burdman joining The Misfits on the road. “He hasn’t toured with us yet, but I’m sure he will wind up doing that.” Burdman declined to comment for this story.

The second band on the bill was The Attack. This isn’t Only’s first rodeo with them either. “Brad [The Attack’s guitarist] does our T-shirts,” Only said. “But this is our first time playing with them. They’ll be with us all during the fall tour.”

The bonfire show served as the kick off date for the bands’ three day mini tour starting at FAU, followed by The Afterburn at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale and closing out with a block party in West Palm Beach.

The Misfits
Genre: Horror Punk
Listen To: Static, Bullet, Skull, Monkey’s Halloween, She, I Turned into a Martian
The Misfits are releasing a new Live album this Halloween

Heart of the Matter was the first band of the night to perform. Photo by Emily Bloch.

As 5:37 p.m. rolls around, the sun is beaming down on the opening bands as they soundcheck.

It’s hot, but the weather doesn’t seem to bother Heart of the Matter members Jerry Caiafa and Mike Serino. “Prep’s been spot on,” Caiafa said.

“We mentally get through that. We like to try and lose weight so sweating helps out”.

After their soundcheck, the members hid away in the air conditioned white tent labeled “backstage band & crew only.”

“I’m just glad the weather’s holding up,” Serino said with relief. “’I’ll take the heat over rain any day.”

“We can’t wait to perform for FAU, and we respect all the kids who have a bright future ahead of them,” Caiafa said.

Though the Jersey based band calls themselves power pop, they stress the importance of using live instruments. “Some of our inspirations would be the first Brand New record,” Serino explained. “Old Starting Line, we try and take a little bit of everything and make it our own.”

As for being on tour with Daddy Only, Caiafa explained, “Three out of the five members of HOTM (Heart of the Matter) have toured with [The] Misfits as their techs. We have seen the best and worst of the world with our mentors The Misfits.

“We are used to working with The Misfits very closely. Both The Misfits and Heart of the Matter practice in the same rehearsal space.”

Heart of the Matter have played about 10 shows with the Misfits this year. “We went on a fall tour with them a while ago, and now we’re playing these three. It’s been really cool,” Caiafa said. “We are grateful for the experience.”

Heart of the Matter
Genre: Power Pop/ Pop Punk
For Fans Of: New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack, The Wonder Years
Listen To: Fashion Your Seatbelt

Charlie Bender and Tito Esquiaqui of The Attack the morning of their performance. The band joked that they have to “clean these floors” before they could play. Photo by Emily Bloch.

The morning of the bonfire, The Attack walked around FAU seeing the posters advertising their performance.

Singer Charlie Bender and drummer Tito Esquiaqui even took a picture holding a mop in front of a bathroom and posted it on Facebook. They told their fans that they were playing tonight — but first they had to clean these floors.

Representing Orlando, the four piece punk band instantly ignited the crowd with their face smashing fast paced songs.

Describing themselves as the product of what would happen “if classic punk and old school hardcore got in a fight,” according to their band’s Myspace profile. The Attack is all about acknowledging their inspirations, which range from early UK punk and New York hardcore, to old metal.

According to their Facebook page, the band is driven by “a goal to re-unite [sic] the punks and skins and hardcore kids under the same underground flag.” With punchy bass solos, sloshy drums, clashing guitar chords and riot ensuing vocals, the band played old school hardcore punk reminiscent of Black Flag.

The band was promoting their EP and 7” vinyl releases, which were both on sale at their merchandise stand at the bonfire.

“Tonight’s show at FAU was a perfect punk rock show,” guitarist for The Attack Brad Palkevich said. “There were thousands of kids exposed to new music that they haven’t heard before. I know punk isn’t the prevailing music down in South Florida, but hopefully this will change the tide a little and open the minds of a ton of college students who were here for a pep rally, and a bonfire, and a performance by one of the most classic punk rock bands in the entire genre.”

The Attack
Genre: Punk/Hardcore/DIY
For Fans Of: H2O, Rotting Out, Jawbreaker, Anti-Flag
Listen To: Prove It

To read about everything that went down at Thursday’s bonfire, check out