Anti-Pop: Passage to Indie
Your (nearly) complete guide to Anti-Pop
By Justin Strout, Jason Ferguson and Bao Le-Huu
Listen, we don’t have a lot of time or space (thanks … everything!) so here are the basics you need to know.
It’s the Anti-Pop Music Festival’s fifth year. As far as headliners go, it’s all right. As far as bubbling-under-the-surface new, fresh talent goes, it’s a lot of “sah-weet!”
Each show runs you $5-$18, so just buy a festival pass for $25. That’s almost half off from last year.
Who’s playing? Who do you need to see? Who can you skip? That’s why you’re reading this. See you there. (Many local acts were added after issue lock, and we don’t have enough space to print the entire schedule, so please visit www.antipopmusicfest.com for show times and the latest lineup.)
Wednesday, Nov. 11
Mumpsy Local popster Jeff Ilgenfritz and Co. should be writing Disney songs right now, and we mean that as the highest compliment. Setting aside Mumpsy’s stellar fusion of rockabilly, Spector-rock and indie, Ilgenfritz’s lyrical misleads and buoyant wordplay belong in the songbooks of Disney stalwarts the Sherman Brothers.
Mumiy Troll It’s hard to justify the title of “one of the most socially dangerous bands in the world” (as they were dubbed early on by the local Communist Party chief in their native Vladivostok) for a band that coined the goofy term “rockapops” to describe their pop-rock sound. But what do Soviets know about rock?
Twin Tigers Packing an effective combination of horizon-hugging Britpop melodies and meaty shoegaze guitars, this Athens band is definitely one of the out-of-towners to highlight on your festival itinerary. Their debut album, Gray Waves, is a solid record that’s sure to energize an already considerable underground buzz when it’s released in January 2010.
(OW Must-See Show) The Antlers In Ricky Gervais’ film The Invention of Lying, the sign for a hospice truthfully reads: “A Sad Place for Hopeless Old People.” Brooklyn indie group the Antlers’ debut album, Hospice, holds the same kind of truth. It’s a brutal-yet-honest depiction of sadness that somehow avoids mopeyness.
Minus the Bear Though their intricate, lightly stepping songs fall under the “easy listening” axis of the indie-rock grid, this Seattle band puts on a technically dazzling and all-around rousing performance in person. Thank god.
Pete Yorn We’ll forgive this New Jersey singer-songwriter for his indulgence of actress Scarlett Johansson as an understandable flirtation, but only because Yorn’s talent for evocation and that piercing, quivering voice – as in “Don’t Wanna Cry,” off his latest album, Back and Fourth – make it worth wading through the misfires.
Blackguard If headliners Ensiferum are the Vikings in this lineup, then Blackguard are the drunken pagans. These Canadians bring a super-blackened metallic style, but their rumbling rhythm section (anchored by that rare species, a female black- metal drummer) keeps them from falling too far into their own spookiness.
Ex Deo If you watched the HBO series Rome, you know that the pre-Jesus world was just a great big cavalcade of killing, fucking and treachery. What could be more metal than that? Apparently, that’s a question that Kataklysm vocalist Maurizio Iacono decided to answer when he formed Ex Deo last year, a death-metal side project whose sole lyrical focus is the Roman Empire.
Hypocrisy Hypocrisy’s new album is called A Taste of Extreme Divinity, and that just seems a little ridiculous. What flavor is heaven, after all? Regardless, the Swedish death-metal band has veered from their early brutality toward a more melodic sound and now, it seems, back to the idea of ripping your face off as frequently as possible.
(OW Must-See Show) Ensiferum This “Viking metal” crew is from Finland, and they are not messing around. While some Viking metal bands co-opt imagery and lyrical themes, vocalist/guitar-shredder Petri Lindroos is just as likely to bust out an eye-bleeding solo as he is to wield a battle ax and split some skulls on the front row.
Thursday, Nov. 12
Six Dead Horses Six Dead Horses is a heavy metal band. Please notice there are no prefixes there, just “heavy.” As in skull-crushing, weed-smoking, village-burning, dragon-slaying, doom-inducing, wizards-on-horseback, might-be-operating-a-meth-lab-out-of-their-tour-van heavy.
Junior Bruce Heavy metal is a flooded market here, but there’s a damn good reason these boys have risen so rapidly to become the area’s best metal band. Whenever you’re in the vicinity of their burly, sharp-toothed and completely evil stoner jams, just kiss your ass goodbye.
(OW Must-See Show) Dark Castle People who come from coastal Florida cities know the supernatural experience of a tropical storm well, and this rapidly rising St. Augustine metal duo’s gonna bring it to you. Like a hurricane, their songs often have serene eyes. But the doom and detonation that surrounds them is nature’s fury undiluted.
(OW Must-See Show) Black Tusk Besides haunted charm, sophisticated transvestites and huge cockroaches, it seems Savannah, Ga., also breeds some nasty-ass rock. The hard, very Southern brew of metal and punk that this trio cooks up will make your lip curl and your chest grow hair.
Black Cobra With a mean, pummeling brand of sludge and doom distortion that isn’t afraid to punch the pedal, these Southern Lord recording artists are another totally boss example of the great tradition of heavy two-piece bands. This is why heavy metal is in the thick of its best attack in ages.
Senate This Orlando band may not be hell-bent on crafting an original take on mainstream alt-rock, but their live shows are notoriously crowd-friendly experiences. They know how to have a good time, which may not make for the best art, but it does make for an uproarious party.
illScarlett A concession to the sandals-and-backwards-baseball-cap crowd, big in Orlando, these Canadians throw everything from Sublime to Fall Out Boy at the wall to see what sticks. All that remains is a stain.
Junkie Rush Unimaginative, rock-funk-ska hybrids are the inevitable bastards of nearly every music community. Even among some of the city’s most gifted players, this crime still occurs. No doubt, the Junkie Rush guys could run a wicked clinic on music technique, but does it matter?
The Crazy Carls You know how sometimes the beef grease will mosey across your dinner plate and seep into your bread, sogging it up until it’s paste? That’s how it feels to see that the whiteboy-dreaded skank-rock of the Crazy Carls found its way into Anti-Pop from its proper place at the Florida Music Festival.
Big D and the Kids Table “Third-wave ska” is a phrase that sends chills down the spine of any right-thinking music fan. However, Big D and the Kids Table bring a ferocious and fun live show and enough musical prowess to hold their own on a split with, of all bands, Melt-Banana.
Ky-Mani Marley As tedious as it must be to carry the burden of being a Marley while dabbling in the reggae genre, resorting to growling New York hip-hop that shoots for Jeezy and settles for Ja Rule is not the answer.
Godamus Rhyme An Orlando MC who deftly balances nerd-dom with toughness, Rhyme is one of the few local rappers with the accessibility and cleverness to translate beyond the city limits. Rhyme should be appreciated around these parts for pointing out that the word “Crist” goes nicely with “bitch.”
Grieves A Seattle MC with a penchant for bland self-reflection, Grieves’ songwriting is adequate, but his delivery lacks passion and insight. Credit Grieves for avoiding empty braggadocio, but being humble does not have to result in verbal timidity.
Cunninlynguists It’s rare for the MCs in a hip-hop group to be forced to rise to the greatness of its DJ. That’s where Southern bangers Cunninlynguists – whose producer member, Kno, is one of the best around – stood until Deacon the Villain and Natti finally brought up their rhymes.
Oh Fortuna Whether their band name was inspired by the Carl Orff movement or, as they seem to indicate, John Kennedy Toole’s reference to the demonic composition, these Gainesville guys have a tall order to fill. Their wimpy approach to mass, synth-driven pastorals, however, comes closer to Toole’s dunces than Orff’s goddess.
Young Brother Having earned his out-there stripes through his work with Sean Moore (including fellow Anti-Poppers Viernes), Alberto Hernandez gets a weekend pass for falling into the more outright college-radio-baiting rank with this brand-new local outfit. As the frontman, Hernandez falsettos and yearns his way into hipsters’ hearts, backed by capable musicianship.
Telethon We tried to get Matt Kamm, the mastermind behind this Tele V. Cheeseburger & the Bluetooth Banned project, to explain this show, and all we could get out of him is that it’ll be the “first service of our new religion of the Transcendental Awareness Cult and Culture Club,” and it will involve “new songs, crowd participation, sacrifices and bloody baptisms.”
The Pauses With tuneful and intelligent pop music that combines electronic and rock instrumentation in a warmly organic way, this Orlando trio is one of most fundamentally sound indie bands in Central Florida. But the fact that their members contribute tirelessly and selflessly to building the local scene makes them a local treasure.
The Tenant With only a few songs in the can and a handful of local live shows under its belt, the Tenant has become one of Orlando’s more promising bands. The melodic atmospheres will be familiar to fans of leader Brad Register’s former band (Summerbirds in the Cellar), but there’s a more rockist approach at work here.
Yacht Once a tool for performance artist Jona Bechtolt, Yacht now includes singer Claire L. Evans and the difference could fill a motherfuckin’ boat. Their July release, See Mystery Lights, bounces with apocalypse-party abandon and ever-present mortality. Nearly half of the songs embrace inevitable doom with laptop-heavy musicality.
Ben Prestage He’s a hillbilly blues traditionalist, he makes his own cigar-box guitars and he’s the Sunshine State’s pre-eminent one-man band.
John Lee Hooker Jr. He’s blessed with a door-opening name, but the soulful and sometimes slick approach John Lee Hooker Jr. takes to his music is more than a few steps removed from the electrified Delta blues his father engaged in.
Friday, Nov. 13
Mowgli All you sensitive indie eggheads need to go ahead and mark this local band on your itinerary now. Their nimble, technical and emotional post-rock should have all of you getting as close to dancing as you guys ever get. Sounds nutty, don’t it?
Ventricles Sonically verbose, this trio from North Carolina might only squeeze a couple of songs into their set, but what a hypnotic track or two it will be from a group that specializes in a kind of indie trance-rock that sets an unsustainable sway. It’s fun, for a while.
Viernes Despite unconventional harmonizing that even alley cats might jeer, the complex sonic impressionism of this on-the-cusp local duo is the real deal, and it’s carving a distinctive place in the hot psych-pop movement.
Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is the latest project from the erstwhile Ramones/Voidoids drummer and, not surprisingly, it leans on classic-era New York punk for much of its power.
Maximino The local duo of Gerald Perez and Erik Hallmark is proving to be a notable addition to the Orlando scene. The two come off as earnest songwriter types, but their music unfolds into an interesting array of influences that tend toward the more artful end of the indie-rock spectrum.
Great Deceivers Lushly quiet in sound, this indie band arrived on the local scene surrounded by hype. But despite announced plans, their record has yet to materialize and everyone’s still waiting to see what this band can really do once they stretch their wings. Until then, go see their lovely live show.
Solillaquists of Sound Hands down the best hip-hop group in Florida, but the power of these Orlandoans’ songs tends to get lost in the surrounding talk about personality and passion. The group’s recent album possesses little filler and tons of killer, from rousing anthems to jaw-dropping displays of musical prowess.
XOXO You have to hand it to Orlando’s XOXO. Despite some friendly pink-bellies over their name, they have proven their music speaks for itself. Singer Noah Kussack’s appealing pop skips along in step with his band’s economically sunny yet well-built hooks.
Death Mites They sound like tiny little things that you’d never want to encounter, but you’ll change your mind once you see this irrepressible local band live. Their cross between anthemic Gainesville punk and scuffed-up indie-folk weirdness is an incandescent thing.
Slippery Slopes There’s a very good chance that you’ll lose a few brain cells during a Slippery Slopes show. The group’s deadly effective usage of simple melodies, garage-rock tempos and snide lyricism will likely inspire you to drink more than you should, but the loose-limbed fun you’ll have will more than make up for the missing IQ points.
Sam Rivers Quintet In the case of performances by Sam Rivers, sometimes less is more. Although local audiences have been spoiled by numerous woodshed shows by his big band/orchestra over the past few years, it’s the small-group shows (typically with a trio, this time as a quintet) where the master’s improvisational spark turns into a blowtorch of freedom.
Saturday, Nov. 14
Happy Valley There are bands that are great because they’re fearlessly experimental. There are bands that are great because they write engaging songs. There are bands that are great because they put on thoroughly joyful live shows. And then there’s Orlando’s own Happy Valley, a band that is great because they do all three.
Pan/Dos This criminally unheralded brainchild of future-primitive culture pirate Jonathan Taylor is much more than just a high-concept electronic pop project. Live, it’s a true audiovisual experience that’s hand-mixed, employing three box televisions and a stack of VHS tapes, because fuck Betamax.
Dr. Moonstien The name brings to mind a ska band, the stage setup has you thinking Fuck Buttons, and, honestly, if you can wrap your brain around what would happen if those two things got into a fistfight during a teen’s first acid trip, you wouldn’t be too far off.
Lighthouse Music This progressive and innovative combo from St. Augustine is more than willing to let it all hang out in performance. Lighthouse piles up prog-rock, downtown jazz, beatnik grooves, Canterbury noodling and a little freeform indie rock into their mix.
The Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt This music and performance project got signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label last year. But here’s the real dope: A squad of singers and dancers! A light show! A jumpsuit made of over 100 stuffed animals! You are so there.
Zach Williams Williams developed a following in West Palm Beach before moving to Brooklyn, where his acoustic-tinged folk-pop has just begun catching on, and for good reason. Williams’ unobtrusive storytelling, jangly instrumentation and unassuming vocals should make him a cross-platform favorite, easily used as background music for the next Jennifer Aniston film.
Brooke Waggoner Nashville is lousy with glossy female singer- songwriters hesitant to dive headfirst into naked Lilith fare in favor of easy-to-digest pop nuggets. Waggoner is one of them. Unfortunately, her fun numbers fail to blossom and her tortured tracks pay more attention to their own outer beauty.
Jimmy Gnecco Sigh, it’s the man-siren responsible for all the anguish and pomp that fuels Ours. Girls, have at it. Guys are welcome too. But man cards will be confiscated at the door.
Copeland One of the better in a category – Florida Christian bands – that’s practically its own genre, these Lakeland boys’ (lately Atlanta) gentle piano rock has toughened into a sturdy, somewhat intricate sound. This will be one of the group’s final shows.
I Fight Dragons The gimmick with this Chicago six-piece is that their songs are inspired by NES games of yore. They dispense with that piece of their sound pretty quickly, however, opting instead for standard-but-melodic and tightly orchestrated power pop.
Whole Wheat Bread Jacksonville’s favorite identity crisis seems to have found its place lately amongst the better-than-emo crowd like Thursday. It’s a good place for their muscle-bound, hip-hop-infused gloss-punk to land.
MC Chris Maybe it’s because he’s their king, but nerds are apparently immune to rapper MC Chris’ annoying munchkin cadence. To everyone else, it’ll rub your skin off real fast. Still, if you haven’t seen the rousing display of witty fun and underdog solidarity of an MC Chris show, it’s worth checking out once.
Shapiro This Virginia indie-pop act aims for a sound that hits the saccharine spot between precious and grand. Throw in a piano and it all sounds pretty nauseating, don’t it? Gag.
Spring Tigers The craving – make that need – to discard this Athens, Ga., band as an overly cutesy pretense burns deeply. But then comes a terrific song like “Stripmalls in the Sun,” an enormous, Sirkian ballad that zips past the Zombies and right into Penguins territory. Damn them!
(OW Must-See Show) The Ettes It’s anyone’s guess how this Nashville trio of two girls and a guy stumbled upon this combination of Jefferson Airplane and the Strokes, but it works. Chunky guitars play nicely with dramatic flourishes for genuine ’60s rock.
(OW Must-See Show) Fake Problems Naples-based Fake Problems has made an impact nationally, thanks to incessant touring with the likes of Riverboat Gamblers, Anti-Flag, Against Me and other punk-rock stalwarts. The group’s aggressive and infectious sound is far more textured and complex than nearly any of the bands with whom they’ve toured.
Central Station Bar
Kivimetsän Druidi Everything that people love – and hate – about folk metal can be found in this Finnish group’s music. The lyrics about faeries and druids and goblins, the epic cheesiness of their arrangements, the overwrought female vocals … it’s all there, whether you want it or not.
Vreid Of all the metal bands on this year’s Anti-Pop lineup, Vreid is the one that most deserves a second look from non-metalheads. Not that Vreid’s sound isn’t metal enough to please the black-clad arbiters of “true metal,” but the band’s combination of super-blackened ominousness, heaviness and hard-rock swagger is appealing and unique.
Alestorm Drink up, mateys! If pagan metal is too earthy for you and folk-metal too damnably reminiscent of a Renaissance faire, then how about some pirate metal? Booze, wenches, swords, treasure … Alestorm lives the dream!
Belphegor Like most metal bands with a history longer than a month, Belphegor has seen its share of lineup changes, label shifts and stylistic wobbles. Amazingly, Belphegor has managed two stunning releases in a row, 2008’s Bondage Goat Zombie and this year’s Walpurgis Rites.
Eluveitie Hailing from Switzerland, Eluveitie’s brand of folk-metal reaches way back for inspiration; vocalist Chrigel Glanzmann often sings in Gaulish (not French, mind you) and their death-metal guitars are complemented by the hurdy gurdy, flute, fiddle and even the occasional bagpipe.
Bananafish Mental instability, blown brains and Florida: a natural combo, no? Apparently, this hot new band thinks so since it took its name from a brilliantly startling J.D. Salinger short story involving just that. With an interpretation of rustic folk that’s abstract, elegant and inspired, this is quite possibly a star in the making.
So Help Me Rifle This local act indulges in the noodling and avant-garde pop detours, but what keeps them grounded is their distinct sense of harmony and song craft. They’re one layer shy of ’90s power pop like the Posies or Teenage Fanclub, and that subtracted layer makes it that much better.
Northvia The haunting instrumental soundscapes of this Orlando act call for something different than a PBR in one hand and a smoke in the other. Theirs is the music of ice cubes and whiskey. Though Northvia occasionally soars to grandiose heights, more often their piano-heavy scores set a mood for quiet introspection.
Khann It used to be an Orlando show by local vegan grindcore metallians Khann was a rarity; these days it seems they’re playing all the time. Which is a good thing. The band’s sound has undergone quite a bit of evolution recently and each new show brings a different facet to their approach.
The Legendary J.C.’s This revered local act has undergone a significant, if somewhat controversial, overhaul this year. But truth be told, it’s a purer, more focused act that showcases the power plant of pure soul that is singer Eugene Snowden.