This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene. Read the latest column here.Peterbuilt at Will's Pub reunion weekend (photo by Michael Lothrop) Will’s Pub, one of the city’s most beloved and authentic music-centric social clubs, is celebrating its anniversary again. This time every year, the pub always pops off with a string of special events. For this 19th anniversary, however, it’s an entire month of carousing and arousing. But, befitting the critical role Will’s Pub has played in the city’s scene for two decades now, notable Orlando bands of the past reunited to salute this institution of independent music by kicking off the festivities with an outstanding two-night stand (Sept. 5-6) of Orlando rock history (including an actual set by History). The vibe all weekend was every degree as warm and glowing as you’d expect a scene reunion to be. For sure, it never sucks to be among that kind of spirit. The first night featured Peterbuilt, Dragbody, Destination: Daybreak and Backhand. The second night featured History, Vostok, Resident Weirdo and Hurrah. I caught all but a couple and everyone I saw delivered respectably. Dragbody at Will's Pub reunion weekend (photo by Michael Lothrop) The standouts from Night 1 were the melodic, progressive and dynamic hardcore of Destination: Daybreak and way harder hardcore of Dragbody, which exploded with total fury and zero dust. Hurrah at Will's Pub reunion weekend (photo by Michael Lothrop) From Night 2, Hurrah was a band I was especially happy to see back on stage again. Although not the most technically consistent set of the lot – something they had the humor to admit themselves – their smart, slashing, angle-cut post-hardcore showed even more dimension and muscle than I remember. And it was a set good enough to make me wish they’d reform, or at least do more reunions. Vostok at Will's Pub reunion weekend (photo by Michael Lothrop) Another highlight was Vostok, a predecessor to the now well-known Pauses that I always kinda felt bad about not seeing after they sent me a beautiful handmade invitation to a show early in my rockcrit career. Well, I finally got the chance to see their dynamic, beautiful indie rock live and I'm better for it. But more than any of the actual performances, the purest quintessence of a historical occasion like this was actually off to the side of the stage during Dragbody’s furious set, where a toddler daughter in headphones was marveling over her dad kicking total ass on stage. That sight right there may just inspire her to start a band someday. The next generation: Will's Pub reunion weekend (photo by Michael Lothrop) Events like these are fun flashbacks. But to those interested in our scene progress, they’re a great way to measure ourselves. Orlando may not have the most established reputation for quality, but what the Will’s Pub reunion weekend has put on the official record is that – whether the outside world knows it or not – we’ve had some good taste for a long time now. While we’re toasting to history, go ahead and commit to this weekend’s 60th anniversary party for legendary dive Wally’s (Sept. 14, 3:00 PM). Although not a celebration of Orlando music per se, it definitely celebrates local nightlife and will prominently feature music on an outdoor stage with Ben Prestage, Milka and Derek and the Slammers. Besides, there are very few places in town that have fueled musicians more. Viva Wally’s! And if you’ve still got that nostalgic itch, mark your calendars for Oct. 24 when old-school notables Throcket Luther and Bring Back Joel leap from the dusty, golden yearbook pages to play Will’s again.
Read more This Little Underground:Farewell to music scene clubhouse Bar-BQ-Bar
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.