This Little Underground: Punk on the Patio makes big downtown debut 

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Photo by Jim Leatherman

New year, new things – it's how it should be (although I'd gladly have Bowie for a few more). And already, we have a fresh new live-series hopeful up at bat. I mentioned it last month, but Punk on the Patio, the new event baby by rising scene-maker Marshal Rones (of Foundation Presents), is now officially in the mix with a very promising debut (Jan. 6, the Patio).

On paper, I liked everything about the idea when I first heard about it. It's a live event of exceptional accessibility and a compelling reason to go downtown again. Like an entire class of local scene pros, what I dislike about downtown now is not the setting itself (which I actually miss), it's the culture shift and increasing logistical hassle. But, with its low-fuss midweek placement (first Wednesday of each month) yet sane hours (music begins at 9 p.m. and ends by midnight), POTP is like a slice of the old downtown. And if you have any complaints about a $5 cover that buys you several bands and a free domestic bottle or well, then you have no business going out.

Regarding that downtown context, the Patio is all kinds of perfect for a live-music gathering. Occupying the cloister that was formerly Eye Spy and accessed via the back connector hall of Olde 64, the action happens on the floor in the courtyard under lights and the night air. Outdoor, urban and informal – there's little more you could demand of a milieu.

As for the quality of music, without which none of this matters, the maiden showcase stepped out with a strong local lineup that included Flashlights, Out Go the Lights and Slumberjack, all of whom represented respectably. But what happened around the bands is perhaps more telling about Punk on the Patio's prospects. The turnout was healthy, tuned in and on time. People showed up early and came primed for live music. They moved, they sang along – you know, like a real live-music crowd. And that's something because it doesn't always happen here, even among the concert-going set. Without getting into that sadness, let's just respect the fact that this event accomplished that sense of event.

How much of the buzz and flash was just opening-night electricity remains to be seen, but the ingredients are there for this to be a legit happening. The bands were good and the crowd possibly better. POTP is bringing something new, local, live and inexpensive back to downtown. It may only be a small reclamation for live music but it's a potentially great concert series. The next lineup's already been announced and it's solid, featuring Wet Nurse, Tight Genes and Caffiends (Feb. 3). Follow on the Social's website (thesocial.org).

The Beat

The recent Priest-headlined local show was a tidy one-stop check-in on three of the more nationally noted acts of Orlando's current indie class (Jan. 7, the Social). Priest is still more of a studio project than anything and nobody around here is still seducing the '80s as dreamily and effectively as Saskatchewan.

Day Joy, too, has seen its share of prominence in recent years, emerging in 2013 as one of Orlando's most promising breakouts with a nationally released and pushed album (Go to Sleep, Mess) under the Frenchkiss label umbrella. But after the core creative duo shrank to just frontman Michael Serrin, the band has practically fallen off even the local radar in the search to redefine itself.

Now with a completely retooled five-piece lineup, Day Joy's pillowy folk-pop sounded less psychedelic and more melodically distinct, but still rich in floating atmosphere. What's more, though still purposefully sedate, some of the new material performed was highly clarified with quiet drama, as if someone's been listening to a lot of the National lately. It's a smart move that really showcases Serrin's elegant songwriting.

I'm not sure why Day Joy's comeback has been so slow, but it looks like some wheels are moving again with work on new recordings. After seeing them shine again on stage, let's hope that this is a sign of something beginning again.

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