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6/28/2007

Music > This Little Underground

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND

 

This ain’t the Complaints Department but I’m gonna solve a couple gripes I often hear, because fixin’ shit and makin’ things happen is what I do.

A downtown alternative

Oh, the times I’ve heard people complain about the lack of anything fresh to do downtown. Well, if you belong to this tribe, be prepared to prove how game you really are because I’m about to revoke that excuse.

Though beloved for its exemplary Mediterranean cuisine, the long-running Café Annie (by the Mini dealership) is more than just a popular weekday lunch destination. Apart from being a participating venue during the annual Florida Music Festival (an oddly good one for way-under-the-radar artists), its nighttime presence is largely overlooked. Music fans, however, should put Saturday nights there on their calendars. They feature Middle Eastern music by Syrian singer/keyboardist Samer Hilmi, whose extensive repertoire allows him to play for hours. The heady, serpentine sounds trigger a night full of dancing, some of it traditional and some of it modernized and urbanized by younger people. It’s a welcome touch that brings needed color to downtown’s night-life complexion.

For some reason, people find breaking patterns difficult. Now the only thing that can prevent your jaded ass from walking one block farther up Orange Avenue than normal is just plain apathy. Bang! Next.

Musicians wanted

The second grievance is the lack of access to stages for local musicians. Again, I’m on it and direct you to Preacher Bill Presents, a conditional open-mic night starting soon on Thursdays at the Will Walker–helmed Taste in College Park. The value of the open mic to local musicians is obvious, but the rub for bar patrons is having to endure the bumbling of amateurs. In an attempt to mitigate this and achieve mutual benefit, the casting call is open to anyone, but the official lineups will be curated in advance by Nathan Adams (Preacher Bill & the Prophets, Bughead). Though aimed primarily at the singer/songwriter community, duos, three-pieces and even bands are welcome, depending on style and content. Trying to make headway into the live circuit or just wanna test-drive new material? Check www.myspace.com/preacherbillpresents.

The beat

North Carolina’s He Is Legend were so-so; this week’s butt-whuppin’ honors go to their openers, shotgun-rockers Maylene & the Sons of Disaster, who REALLY brought the nasty stuff. With a menacing, stentorian sound of ’70s boogie rock gone Southern metal, this Alabaman beast came out of the gate roaring like a monster truck and destroyed at the Social June 19. Fronted by former Underoath singer Dallas Taylor, this act has adopted imagery associated with a murderous Prohibition-era crime family (Ma Barker and her sons). That’s pretty wayward for a group that positions itself as a “Christian” band, if you ask me. But even with the suspicion I tend to have toward so-called Christian artists, music with balls this big can make me forgive just about any trespass.

Black Light Burns, the new band by former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland, played Back Booth June 21. Rather than the tough-only-to-fratboys stuff his former band peddled, his new project is rather Gothic, in a radio-ready sorta way. Though measured and polished, they did prove able to rock. That is, as hard as a Goth-rock band possibly can. As a frontman, Borland yields mixed results. He really worked it with expressive, clearly studied posturing but he wasn’t terribly distinctive vocally. At any rate, it’s not exactly edgy stuff, but credit him for defying expectation.

The remnants of the good but largely unknown local band Wild Mercury have become the Belltowers, who played there the next night. Showing a big Byrds jones, they delivered a chiming, crystalline set steeped in the golden-toned folk-rock and early country-rock of the ’60s. They’re total throwbacks in construct, but they could teach the rising young popsters in town a thing or two about melodic purity and fundamentals. Perhaps this band will provide a spark to the city’s slumping ’60s scene.

Finally, ascendant Austin band Voxtrot closed out the weekend at the Booth. A name that’s been in the mouths of hipsters and critics of late, they came correct with an incredibly likable set of full-bodied and irrepressibly jaunty pop. They charmed with a touch lithe enough to please reticent twee-popsters but lifted with a wingspan wide enough to move a dance floor. Count them alongside bands like Youth Group and the Shins as some of the brightest talents in the indie pop world.

baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com
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