Too much went down 'round town this week to waste time chatting. So let's get busy …
So the latest edition of The Bao Show was fun. Some already know the deal but I've never officially explained it. It's a mostly local music showcase I put together every so often. Face it, suckers, no one has the concert mileage I do in this city, and this concept siphons that to convoke the acts I feel are most worth your attention. They're eclectic by design; you'll go to see one of your favorites but you'll end up exposed to talented exemplars of styles you might not otherwise seek out. Furthermore, it's a way for local musicians to gain a broader understanding of their community at large.
The latest case in point was the one Copper Rocket asked me to do Aug. 18, which grouped the beatbox virtuosity of Rubox Cube, the burning indie rock of Crash the Satellites, and the pop-savvy incandescence of Mumpsy. Each was chosen for a reason and none disappointed (phew!). Rubox, Nonsense Records' own resident Rahzel, showcased his seemingly endless bag of vocal gymnastics with a highly narrative routine. From the things I heard flowing from many mouths, it seems he turned a bunch of indie rockers into converts.
Being from Jacksonville, Crash the Satellites' gift — airborne melodies that drive and grind — isn't familiar to many Orlando music fans; those who came were treated to a big, sweet serving of their glory. If Dinosaur Jr. came up in Chapel Hill in the '90s, this is what they'd sound like.
Post Records flagship act Mumpsy was a little more ramshackle than usual, but the unstoppable effervescence of their indie pop carried the day with a genuine sense of fun. They even dropped a Misfits cover, a band that frontman Jeff Ilgenfritz has been fixated on of late. In fact, he's working on a recording of Misfits covers he hopes to release for Halloween.
As you know, in this column, no one is above scrutiny. And, yes, that goes for my dear editor, Jason Ferguson, whom I asked to spin between acts. I've been tracking his progress as a DJ for some time now, and I hafta say that this night was a considerable breakthrough for the guy, if only for the fact that he played songs by artists people have actually heard of. (Editor's note: I blame the beer.)
Even without the crazy cab ride home, wherein a crackpot driver encouraged us with an almost bloodthirsty vicariousness to break open the beer we purchased to go while he drove, it was a night to write home (or to a couple hundred thousand readers) about. Though I can't promise any kooky cabbies, look for my next showcase in late September at Taste.
In other haps, I caught Billy Bob Thornton at House of Blues Aug. 15. Like probably everyone else there, I was drawn by perverse human curiosity. The set was marked by country-rock songs that stretched into protracted guitar workouts way too often. Hell, Billy Bob himself would drift over to the stage's wing to chew fat with the guitar tech and assorted backstage guests while his bandmates tested the audience's patience and played to their hearts' content. They even managed to turn a Ramones cover into a blues-rock marathon.
Despite how oafishly straightforward they were in stylistic expression and lyrics, it wasn't quite bad enough to feel like some jag-off celebrity was draining our lives. It wasn't good, but it wasn't the traffic fatality I think we were all hoping it would be. But perhaps I'm projecting. Actually, their opening set under the moniker the Boxmasters was much more interesting. Donning a fantastically garish Western wardrobe, the same group played a hodgepodge rooted deeper in traditional country styles with a bit of cowpunk spirit.
Speaking of middling roots rock, Will Hoge played the Social Aug. 17. He's a much better performer than Thornton but lacks Thornton's aesthetic. Radio-ready and not particularly engrossing, his work is roots rock for people who really listen to pop and resonates more with girls who like a pretty face attached to their music.
As such, it was odd to see ex-Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and respected indie rockers Centro-matic open up, guys whose careers are largely untouched by commercial notions. I saw Isbell and his band earlier this year and wasn't exactly wowed, but this time they sounded much more assured, playing country-rock that was big and muscular but went down easy. And they closed with a cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" that worked way better than anyone could've predicted.
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