This Little Underground: A farewell salute to Orlandooom 

Kadavar, Mothership, Bloodshot Bill, the Wildtones, J.D. Wilkes and the Dirt Daubers


Last week was the swan song of Orlandooom (April 7, Will’s Pub), the local heavy music presenter group of Jarad Oates Haggard and Scott Branbar. It’s not total eschaton for the city’s headbanging population because of the continued existence of Non-Prophet Organization – an offshoot by Orlandooom protégé Ryan Pemberton – but it’s a big blow. They set a dependably respectable bar for a checkered genre: metal. Orlandooom was the gold standard and – through credibility built from the number of excellent underground bands they singlehandedly turned me on to – was probably the name I trusted most in heavy music. It’s why I named them “best heavy booking” in the 2011 Undie Awards.

To cap an impacting career, Orlandooom went practically all black in their final showcase with L.A.’s Abigail Williams, Tampa’s Ovid’s Withering and notable locals Dzoavits and Infinite Earths. But far greater than any individual performance this night is the legacy of the presenter. The reason I’ve blown a Florida amount of sunshine up their donks in recent years is because they injected serious tonnage in sound and street cred to our music scene. So if this absolutely must be an epitaph for Orlandooom (which is so metal), then here’s a double-fisted squeeze of invisible oranges to the legacy of their game-changing work. Thanks for the boost, boys.

That said, though the job market forced Haggard to relocate to South Florida, it’s hard to imagine a guy this experienced and irrepressible retiring from the game for good. So don’t be surprised to hear some thunder down under from his hammer at some point.

The Beat

But it gets heavier still with a couple deep-plowing power trios (April 9, Backbooth) that have about as much regard for the march of time as Wolfmother. Despite their death-y name, the inspiration for Berlin headliner Kadavar is heavy metal’s blues-thick headwaters. In fact, this relatively new band’s sound is literal, verbatim and straight-up time-warped from 1970. But as undeniably regressive as it is, they work that sweet spot between Sabbath and Zeppelin so masterfully that it bucks all cynicism. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, and Kadavar fully capitalizes on the luxury of cherry picking from historically certified gold with a keen editorial eye and dead-ringing execution. Live, they’re every bit as tight as their locked-in recordings, only with much more welcome pump and thump. And even though they take on a woolly rock style, they execute everything – even the frenetic guitar solos – with supernatural precision. Germans, man.

Welcome aboard: Photos from Mothership and Kadavar at Backbooth

Dallas tourmates Mothership are of nearly identical orientation, except with a more gunning, swaggering style that’s a step closer to fellow Texas titans the Sword. Their brand of true belief rides in on rolling-thunder riffs and on-rails shredding – all of it USDA prime beef. And with total rock & roll showmanship, they took this crowd from unaware viewers to amped devotees by the second song, coming dangerously close to outplaying the headliner.

The last time Montreal’s Bloodshot Bill (April 11, Will’s Pub) played Orlando was back in 2011 when he performed with garage god King Khan and our own local king Khan – Nadeem Khan – as the deliciously named Tandoori Knights. This time, they mostly played separately. Bill threw raw sparks again with a rockabilly and blues cyclone that’s technically tighter than most one-man bands but, spiritually, way further out into the wild.

Nadeem played with the Wildtones, a local trio whose unvarnished, primal-stomp rockabilly is led by dynamic frontman-guitarist Joshua Ramsey. They’re rough – sometimes enough to require a restart to get right – but they shake legs and pass around a whiskey-filled rubber chicken for the audience to enjoy.

After years of reliably regular Orlando appearances with the Legendary Shack Shakers, frontman J.D. Wilkes put us on ice for a while. But this is the second time in less than five months that he’s come to headline with the Dirt Daubers, his current jam with his wife, Jessica, and the band was just as good this time. Then again, it’s the Colonel, a man whose outsized showmanship is so electrifying that he’d be worth paying to see in mime. So maybe this means the love affair with Orlando is back on.


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