Music > This Little UndergroundThis Little Underground
Reunited and it feels so goooood.†
Sup, my babies? Itís great to be back in the saddle. You know I never like to leave you hanging, but I was up in the deep purple of Minneapolis for the 25th Anniversary Bash for noise-rock institution Amphetamine Reptile Records, which Ė whoo! Ė was one brain-blasting sonic onslaught. Just as cool, though, was being at a significant yet familial event where demigods like Jon Spencer, Mudhoneyís Mark Arm and King Buzzo Ė who are most definitely not like everyone else Ė were actually hanging out and listening to music over beers just like everyone else. Oh, and Hammerhead, Vaz, Jet Legs and Boss Hog kicked the most ass.
Speaking of big anniversaries, Orlando nightlife beacon Willís Pub celebrated its 15th all last week with a chain of dope shows running the stylistic and generational gamut from Telethon to Junior Bruce to Jim OíRourke. Few places in the greater metro illustrate the past, present and future of the areaís music scene in such a living, evergreen way. And there were a ton of good performances, but none wouldíve been possible were it not for the place they were playing in.†
Yísee, Willís Pub is a scene cornerstone par excellence because, unlike most of the other top-tier music venues in the city, itís actually a community gathering place with real personality. Itís that rare and infinitely valuable combination of neighborhood dive, gritty local culture and edgy musical foundation. Iíve been to bars all over the world and that combination is not only special, but more difficult to achieve than you can ever imagine. Hang around any bar long enough and you can lose your soul. But at this one, you might actually find one.
Like it or not, claiming Orlando has historically been an act of courage. But Willís has never shied from it, setting an example of local pride that a sizeable portion of us has only started to follow in recent years. In a transient city that struggles to realize its sense of history, Willís Pub is the quintessence of Orlandoan terroir.†
Another point of our cityís subcultural validation is just down the block at Uncle Louís, where I briefly broke away from the Willís Pub festivities to catch local sludge-core band Weeks (Sept. 1). Despite being comprised of only two instrumentalists and a singer, they have a mammoth sound. What makes them particularly effective is that theyíre one of those bands that understands that the only way to feel the full crush of their heaviness is to slow things down. And singer Josh Hood is the most explosive and physical local frontman Iíve seen in quite some time.
Also performing was local trio D & the Sluts, whose psychedelic surf-punk is a gutsy companion to the beach vibe currently poppiní off worldwide thanks in part to Florida indie rock. With real melody and soundcraft going on, theyíre much more than the raw fun of the average slop-punk band. Letís see more.†
As for Uncle Louís: When some random non-scene drunk with a fanny pack can just wander in and commandeer the mic, mid-song, like someone did during D & the Slutsí set, and no one blinks (not even the band) then youíve got a cool scene goiní on. Shit, dude even drew the most boisterous applause of the night. Louís is not only a great incubator and testing ground for fringe bands, itís one of the few organic spots in town where local animals like underground music types and real street characters mix it up regardless of stripe Ė to often colorful results. Wanna walk on the wild side? Just do Mills Avenue.
The first time I saw Orlando boyfriend-girlfriend two-piece band Wilbur was last December at their clumsy primetime debut opening for the amazing Mr. Gnome. Sometime between then, and now at their recent record-release party (Sept. 3, Plaza Theatre), a real band happened.†
Through hard work and focus, what was a flimsy, half-formed thing has developed into a defined idea without losing any of the vernal, wide-eyed conviction thatís at the heart of this band. Although theyíve come quite far, I think this is a band thatís just beginning to find its legs. Itíll be interesting to see what happens when they start running.