Lucky for you, dear reader, I am willing to trudge through the morass of garbage that passes for live music in this shithole. That way, you can stay tucked away in your house, complaining about how awful Orlando is, and I can spend four days in a row reveling in the blissful diversity of this city’s concert offerings without having to put up with people like you.
Thursday (March 23) wasn’t much of a music night, but an art exhibit/sale by Wheat Würtzburger at the brand-new swankiness of a bar that is called 23 was rocking. Besides the presence of yours truly, a bevy of scene denizens were in attendance to gawk at Wheat’s photography, drink cocktails and eat cupcakes. From Seven Mary Three to Summerbirds in the Cellar, band members were representing, along with facilitators like Jim Faherty and one-person support networks like Katie Ball. If someone had slipped some toxins in the free beer, they wouldn’t have completely destroyed Orlando’s music scene, but they’d have put a good hurtin’ on it.
Gatherings like this are simultaneously inspiring and morbidly depressing: Here are all these fabulous people, out celebrating art and the artists who make it and doing so in a fashion that is not at all parochial or apologetic. Yet, inevitably, discussions (like the one between me and Billy Manes) turn to the subject of unfulfilled potential. With so many great, creative people doing so many great, creative things, why is it so difficult to get forward momentum going? Why do the mad scientists leave? Why do the third-rate fuckups stay? Why are Dexter’s and a stroll around Lake Eola the best The New York Times can come up with as examples of “Orlando for Grown-Ups?” (Actually, that wasn’t part of the conversation; I didn’t read that horrible piece until Sunday.)
When I say that it wasn’t “much of a music night,” I mean I didn’t go to any shows. However, the L.A. glamourpusses known as Clear Static played down at Back Booth. I’m sure that cheered up Billy.
Friday night wasn’t much better: just a well-regarded Britpop band playing at The Social, a night of high- (and low-) profile rock en Español over at AKA Lounge and some abstract hip-hop at Will’s Pub. Yawn. Who cares about the likes of South, Javier Garcia and Sole?
Well, I didn’t really care about South, but I wanted to check out opening act Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, a kinda-creepy-kinda-giddy chamber-pop act from (of course) Indianapolis. I managed to miss ’em, because The Social ran their show on time that night and I didn’t. This meant I arrived in time to catch the Nirvana-isms of Nine Black Alps (Lead Singer in Flannel alert!) and figured out from asking around that Margot wound up confusing everyone.
Hoping that perhaps The Social’s punctuality would be infectious, my lovely wife and I booked it over to AKA Lounge at an algorithmically precise time. Unfortunately, the show was running slow, which meant we had to slog through entire sets by Urbe Prima (Rush en Español) and Solares (average en Español) before Garcia finally took the stage after 1 a.m. I get really cranky when shows start late, forcing me to endure mediocre openers. But between the propulsive Cuban percussion provided by his very able band and the grinning, upbeat vibe of Garcia himself, my bad mood evaporated. The band was incredibly tight, and Garcia came off like Rivers Cuomo (if Rivers Cuomo could smile and mean it).
Needless to say, the delay at AKA meant no stop at Will’s on the way home to catch some Sole. Word is, the show was great.
Saturday meant grinding, aggressive metal at Will’s, courtesy of two bands comprised of former members of Dove (Triune and I Love U), two bands charting a new course in avant-aggro (Deadbird, Facedowninshit), headliners Municipal Waste and the opening “genius” of Blood Laser. An overabundance of Cookie Monster vocals, however, meant a hasty retreat.
Sunday saw a bizarre bill at House of Blues, with Hard-Fi spitting out their wound-up, 21st-century take on The Clash, after some not quite complementary opening sets by Summerbirds and Plain Jane Automobile. Despite their newfound penchant for Total Sonic Assault, Summerbirds in the Cellar was too weird and spacious for the lightly filled hugeness of the venue. (Since when do shows get moved from Will’s Pub to House of Blues?) As for PJA, well, I should keep my pen holstered, as I don’t want to be seen as overly nasty. But let’s just say the irony didn’t escape me that the bloodless Britpop they so unashamedly and uninspiringly mimic is exactly the sort of thing that a band like Hard-Fi is attempting to destroy.
Oh wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a positive column?