;Ever seen that guy at the bar more interested in the beer he's drinking than the musician pouring out his/her soul onstage? You know, the guy who's having a lively conversation about C.S. Lewis and Christian relativism and the varying merits of French farmhouse ales, while you're trying to listen to the music? You know, the asshole who you'd "shush," if only you thought it would do some good?
;;Well, for one night (Friday, May 12), I was that guy, and, to make it worse, I was being that guy at my favorite bar in Orlando. Hosting a night of whispery indie music, Redlight Redlight brought in the far-reaching post-rock jamminess of Saxon Shore and the cracked, acoustic dreaminess of fellow Philadelphian (and tour mate) Denison Witmer. (In keeping with co-owner/ex-Social manager Josie Fluri's long-standing philosophy of treating bands right, they also held a cookout for 'em out back.)
;;Luckily for the people kind enough to pay the cover to hear these fine acts, my obnoxious ass didn't stay in the bar long enough to see them play. By the time Mike Dunn was finished with his contrasting trifecta of acoustic guitar/harmonica/MC5 shirt and the drummer from Saxon Shore played an acoustic set, I realized I was annoying everyone around me. Despite the requisite post-song applause I was providing, I was paying far more attention to my beer and my friends than I was to the music.
;;So I left, which is hopefully at least one point in my favor. In the cozy confines of Redlight Redlight, if an acoustic act (or, in the case of Saxon Shore, a sonically subtle act) is performing, any chatter above a whisper comes across loud and clear and is a massive distraction. I should know; I was the guy throwing around huffy sighs and dismissive glances at the folks who were nattering on at a Christina Wagner show there a few months back. Knowing full well that I was now likely the recipient of equally hostile stares and sighs, and that after two bottles of Saison Dupont and other assorted beer goodness, I was unlikely to become any less of an asshole, I hobbled over to Fiddler's Green. On Friday nights, everyone there is an asshole (in a good way), and the hen in a pot is to die for.;
;;I find it strange that in a city with as large a Hispanic population as Orlando, the death of someone like the young and talented Soraya could pass with so little notice. Save a wire story that ran in the Sentinel, the English-speaking media seemed to ignore it. The 37-year-old singer-songwriter was a chart success, a Latin Grammy winner and possessed of a style that was as warm and accessible as it was rooted in traditional styles. Her battle with breast cancer was the sort of poignant tragedy that the pathos-driven media love to chew on. Eventually, the media powers-that-be are going to have to accept that the Hispanic population here is neither transient nor likely to be pacified by the occasional familiar-faced newscaster. Continually marginalizing (or ignoring) culturally notable events such as this unfortunate loss isn't just bad for business, it's bad for the community.;
;;Saturday night (May 13) saw "A Firestone Farewell," the last gay-focused "circuit" night at the legendary Club at Firestone. A new team has taken over the storied venue and will be putting the building through some major renovations. Though the club will remain open through the construction, at the end of the process a new Firestone will emerge that will utilize the space's 1,500-plus capacity to bring in national touring acts, in addition to a slate of diverse club-oriented entertainment. In other words: Downtown will finally be getting House of Blues/Hard Rock Live–sized shows on a regular basis.
;;Watch for some fierce competition here, as it seems like the person with the most to lose is also the person with the most to gain: Michael McRaney of The Social, whose Foundation Presents company has been successfully booking occasional shows at both of those larger theme-park venues. With a large (and theoretically scalable) downtown venue breathing down the neck of The Social, it'll be interesting to see if McRaney plays nice with the new guy in the interest of protecting his club or if he maintains the relationships he's worked so hard to establish with the other venues. Or, even better for Orlando, if he does both.
;;The conventional wisdom is that House of Blues and Hard Rock Live are too formidable for any contender to successfully challenge. My theory is that HOB should have been built downtown in the first place, and even though they have incredibly deep pockets, there are still only 365 days in a calendar year, and a substantial number of bands that are still skipping Orlando. A large-capacity downtown venue, booked by a smart guy with connections, obviates the need for a drive into Touristan just to see bands. How could that not be successful?; firstname.lastname@example.org
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