This Little Underground: Summer blooms in the underground 

click to enlarge Coeds

Photo by Ashley Belanger


You guys really should be following our native and underground scenes, and summer is the perfect time to do that. The big national tours plummet in quality here until the autumn when they stampede through. Since the local and frontier circuits don't sleep like that, weeks like this happen – pulsing with discovery.

The Beat

Sarasota twin-fronted band Good Graeff just celebrated the fresh drop of their new EP Good Job Go with a typically lively performance of fresh-faced, folk-edged indie pop at their Orlando release event (July 16, Will's Pub). Even with their ready combination of talent, marketability and tireless road dogging, they haven't exactly broken out yet. But hopefully this sparkling record will hasten that.

Local support was Someday River, the band formerly known as Bellows. The long journey from Bellows to Someday River was a slow honing of what began as a stylistically indiscriminate sprawl. Over time, they've pared things down considerably to arrive at their current airy pop rock sound. One foot in the indie world with touches like deep, swimming reverb and the other in soft-core, hippie-lite grooves, contradiction still persists in their recipe. But some pleasant melodies are squeezed between those strange bedfellows.

Straight up mugging the night, however, was Savannah band Coeds. First acts are supposed to warm things up, but these guys and girl made their Orlando debut by lighting the wick and shooting off like a Roman candle. Braiding the wild, early roots of rock & roll with doo-wop traces and a hearty garage scuff, they have a turbocharged vintage aesthetic like the Detroit Cobras, only with more kick.

They're a rubber-burning unit to be sure, but the hard, raw voice of frontwoman Anna Chandler is an absolute weapon. Although she's already good on the male-female trades with co-front Phillip Reynolds Price (ex-An Albatross), her feral soul claws like a tiger when given full rein. That doesn't happen nearly enough, but when it does, it'll knock you down.

Most fresh, unfamiliar openers get little attention unless it's something especially pulse-perking. During the course of Coeds' blazing set, however, the room went from a sprinkle of bodies to a full, demonstrative crowd. Yes: Coeds, look 'em up already.

Another band to keep an eagle eye on is Miami's Plastic Pinks, who ripped some red-hot action later that night right up the street (St. Matthew's Tavern). An onslaught by committee, this full-gang motion machine is a juggernaut of garage-punk uproar and pure physical joy. The band rages with both attack and celebration while singer June Summer sweats the kind of physical charisma usually reserved for party metal. And it torched the spot.

To kick off their East Coast tour, Orlando's the Wilderness (July 15, Will's Pub) performed a solid set of their lush indie rock. Although awash in psych pastels, their sound has a hefty core of melody and sonic substance. It's a combination of pretty melodies and big horizon that's got mainstream potential, for what that's worth.

Speaking of, local opening act Reverist also has good mass appeal, tons of it. Their incredibly likeable piano-propelled indie pop is aloft with soaring melodies and sweeping electronic sheen. For a duo, it's a suprisingly complete package that has songwriting fundamentals superior to many of their more popular contemporaries. And as this performance proved, their music can lift a room and get the bodies moving.

As if these achievements weren't enough, Reverist is the brainchild and creative outlet of local medical doctor Omar Qazi. Most of us in the creative community have day jobs and all, but damn. Anyone else feeling like a bit of a bum right about now?

Opener Pathos, Pathos is a local indie rock act that's been coming up in the scene over the past year or so. Situated somewhere between Ben Gibbard's sensitivity and Vampire Weekend's effervescence, they're unflinchingly twee. What saves them from testing the nerves, however, is their pure charm and even purer sense of melody. If their recordings are a little too dainty for you, try 'em on live where they're notably more persuasive.


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