The 1980s, all across the U.S. a faster stripped down version of punk called "Hardcore" was making its presence felt. From Los Angeles to Richmond, Virginia kids were forming bands, putting out zines, trading music cassette tapes and booking their own shows. At this time Hardcore was free of corporate sponsorship and major label distribution. Shows took place in any type of venue, from kitchens in homes to V.F.W. halls. These shows were promoted through word of mouth and hand made flyers. Hardcore challenged every accepted standard in society and the music business. Because of this it made little inroads into mainstream culture.
Pensacola was no exception, the roots of underground music in the city can be traced to two venues: the Handlebar and the McGuiganns Speakeasy. In the early 1980s this is where early punk and new wave bands first played, even alternative superstars R.E.M. played at McGuiganns. Eventually McGuiganns became the Mix, and this is where the Hardcore scene in Pensacola grew out of. Jim McKean, Jennifer Brown, and Bobby Peterson 1st started booking shows at the Mix after Jim got in touch with James the owner. The 1st Shows were produced under SKAB Production. Early shows included local bands NME Saints (which later became Headless Marines and then Wooden Horse) other bands included Public Disturbance, The Unemployed and Maggot Sandwich.
When Vinny from Agnostic Front called to book a gig at the Mix, that moment, and that show marked the pivotal turning point for Pensacola Punk rock.
From late 1984 to the fall of 1985 the Mix hosted weekly all ages shows, with sporadic gigs taking place at the Handlebar. In the fall of 1985 the Mix was demolished after it was purchased by the Pensacola Glass Company. Two Matinee all ages shows took place at the Cinema Tavern (known now as the Silver Screen) located behind University Mall. These shows were put on by Vik Kaos, guitarist and vocalist of Maggot Sandwich, and Darryl Sedgwick of the Soundbox Record Store (where Elvis Jones of East Hill CD got his start) after these gigs, all ages shows were not taking place in town any longer.
Steven Winfrey and a local aspiring artist by the name of Thomas Manning formed Hyperactive Youth near the end of 1984. HY could be found at local and out of town shows handing out flyers on different subjects involving politics and unity in the Hardcore scene. They also put out a short-lived zine called "Zero Expectations." Other members of HY included Mike Wilder, future N.C.S., Blount and Hollywood Hate guitarist "Pensacola Bob" Peterson and Tony Butler.
Mike Produced a zine called the Smell of Dead Fish that was a homegrown collection of his early writing and interviews with bands. But after only 2 or 3 issues, Mike moved away, and Skott Cowgill kept the 'zine running for many years after.
It was at this time that SKAB Jim McKean and Jennifer Brown and HyperActive Youth partnered to promote all ages shows and Pensacola Punk Rock.
In December 1985 Suicidal Tendencies played at the Handlebar, this was probably the largest and most rowdy show to date in Pensacola, with an estimated 400 people in attendence. The Pensacola Police Department shut down the gig after 45 minutes. Black Flag kicked off the new year of 1986 at the Handlebar as well, but this show was very small.
The group approached Vik from Maggot Sandwich, who agreed to rent out his PA for the shows. The first gig took place at the Metropolitan Community Church on Alcaniz Street. We booked regional bands Legion Of Decency (MS), Vomit Spots (Mobile) and Dispersion (Mobile). This show also was the debut gig for a local group called The Headless Marines. Only 50 to 70 attendees were expected, but over 300 showed up. The police arrived at the show, but were dissuaded from shutting it down. It was a great success, but the group was not allowed back. After this “The church told me that while they enjoyed the cash flow it was a Little louder than they had expected.” said Jim McKean.
Jim immediately found a new venue at the Western Gateway Lions Club. Over the next four months they continued to host Hardcore shows in Pensacola including such acts as GBH, Agnostic Front, Doggy Style, Melvins and Straw Dogs. By the end of the summer 1986, however, the group was broke up and ceased music production. Due to the pursuit of college by the founding members.
At the end of 1986, John Fivgastook over things in town with his Avant Garde Promotions and booked both Hardcore and Alternative shows for the next three years.
In May 2006 HY reunited and put on a 20th anniversary gig at the Handlebar. The show was attended by over 300 people and received local and national media coverage. In November of 2006 former members of HY and other friends from the Pensacola scene gathered at the home of Thomas Manning in Chicago and then attended Riot Fest 2006 featuring Naked Raygun and 7 Seconds. On July 27, 2007, while visiting his in-laws in Nebraska, Thomas J.Manning died suddenly at the age of 40. Thomas was unaware that he had a rare disease called Sarcoidosis.
Thomas was survived by his wife Christine, his brothers Clay and Dan and their mother. He helped inspire a group of young friends to do something that no other group of young people in Pensacola had ever done. He was a successful Horror/Fantasy artist with a BFA in art from the Kansas City Art Institute. His artwork was used by Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons plus numerous gaming companies and magazines.