Brexit, Florida in the 2000 presidential election, the re-elections of well-known shames like Dubya and Rick Scott – apathy and inaction can have hard, profound consequences, guys. Please, vote.
Of the many events that ramp up to the massive annual punk-rock reveille of the Fest in Gainesville, none are as intently global as Foreign Dissent (Oct. 24, Will's Pub), the international punk showcase organized by local promoter Punching Babies. The thing about the Orlando event is that, in all three of its years so far, never before had I seen even one of the featured bands. That's because almost all of them make their Orlando debuts here. In fact, I'd never even heard of these acts. And it's precisely that element of discovery that makes Foreign Dissent so fresh and evergreen.
Now, of course a person in my line of work would find something like that refreshing. In my scene experience, however, I am also painfully aware that this thirst is not universal. But the fact that Foreign Dissent enjoys solid support speaks well of the curiosity of at least these punk-rock listeners. It's a beautiful thing when you're walking up to the venue and you see the singer of several notable local punk bands (Brett Beavers of Moat Cobra, Destructonomicon, etc.), ask him what's up and he tells you he's going to see a bunch of bands he's never heard before and that he's excited about it. Lack of curiosity is probably the single most hindering deficiency in our music scene here, and to see it overcome in any instance is always a triumph.
Those who opened their ears and minds to this year's edition got a five-band stampede of quality and range spanning three continents, including the classic anthem-punk of France's Traverse, the folk-punk of England's Ducking Punches and the true emo of Singapore's the Caulfield Cult.
Perhaps the most interesting band on the bill was Panama's Lemmiwinks, who have a dynamic attack that's all angles and aggression. They also have a funny backstory about responding to their former bassist screwing another member's wife by booting him, teaching his baby-faced 16-year-old brother bass and then taking the kid out on tour internationally. Now that's punk (and also a little bit country).
But the best overall band this year was German trio No Fun. An exceptionally effective combo of garage and pop-punk that taps all the virtues of each, they're one of those rare cake-and-eat-it-too bands. They're fun and fierce, classic and now.
This third chapter proved again that Foreign Dissent is one of those live summits where both musicians and listeners are openly grateful for one another. In terms of artistic exchange, shows like this are as pure as it gets. With positive cred radiating in all directions – for the bands into the Orlando scene consciousness and for the city back out to the world – this annual production has grown into one of the area's most enriching and uplifting events.
In constitution alone, Bob Moses (Oct. 27, the Social) already stands apart in the vast EDM sea. Not a single dude but rather a duo of Brooklyn-based Canadians, the rising Domino Records-worthy act merges house music with more song-based pop forms, the respective interests of the two members when they first joined forces. Their sound – dance music that's more suited to a sleek chaise longue than a sweaty club – rides the chill late-night frequency but introduces a warm human pulse into the style's usually ice-cool veins. The effect is fusion but not Frankenstein, and adds a welcome sense of song to the perpetual house groove.
In terms of show, they would've already qualified for the smart column of electronic acts just for showing some visual flair with their impressive light display. But on stage, these guys are even band-legit because they came packing a live drummer and guitar. All of it unites in a convincingly dimensional and integrated stage experience. Even more noteworthy, it's testament to Bob Moses as the exceptionally rare case of an EDM act that actually sounds better live.
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