This Little Underground: Third Man Records tour rides underground lightning 

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Photo by Jen Cray

Despite rising to become a certified A-lister, Jack White has kept it pretty real. At this point, a guy of his profile doesn't have to do shit. He's already one of the few who've accomplished the rare miracle of breaking big. The guy could go on autopilot, or into a coma even, and his legacy would be guaranteed. But the fact that he doesn't speaks to his hunger and cred.

He still holds impressively steadfast to his subterranean ethos and continues to deepen his bona fides with action and accuracy. Besides his ongoing musical projects, his stepped-up label work with Third Man Records is living proof of that. The label's latest scene venture is the just-launched Audio Social Dissent Tour (Feb. 13, the Social). Instead of trotting out its big-name legacy artists like Wanda Jackson or any of White's own studded projects to pimp the label, this maiden road show preaches the rock & roll gospel by tapping the raw, undiluted marrow of today's underground. Orlando was one of the first cities to receive the tour, and it delivered two of the most thrilling live bands seen in a long time.

The first was headliner Timmy's Organism, the solo vehicle for punk hero Timmy Vulgar. This band's vision of the great Motor City rock tradition is a head-on collision of flame-throwing flair and raw animal thrust. It's maximum Detroit, stripped to its essence and pushed to the brink. Once you see Timmy Vulgar attack his guitar like a carnal hunter, Ted Nugent will forever be camp.

The other bombshell was Austin's Video, whose sound channels primal '70s nerve and whose spirit is pure punk fury. With a forceful band, a perfectly intense frontman and an aesthetic self-billed as "hate wave," there's some real confrontation and subversive showmanship in these guys. It takes a lot to be taken seriously in leather fringes. But from the teetering, headhunting glower of singer TV's Daniel – one of the best frontmen in business right now – this is to be taken dead fucking serious. And though their music is good, it's the sheer velocity of their live cliff dive that puts Video on a different stratum altogether.

Record labels have always made their names (and fortunes) on the horsepower of their artists. But when the name of a label is bigger than the bands it's sending out to represent, like it is here, that's a sign of a label that's taking chances, putting its own skin in the game and trying to spotlight the underground.

The Beat

Early 2000s act My Hotel Year is one of the modern era's most beloved local bands. A reunion last September sold out Will's Pub in advance in the time that only major events ever do. But Field Kit (Feb. 12, Will's Pub), the new project fronted by MHY principal Travis Adams, has already been sparking some fresh buzz.

Adams has teamed up here with Matthew Kipp and Brandon Gibbs of the Still Voice. On paper, Adams' famously openhearted emo melodicism and the Still Voice's angsty commercialism are a little hard to reconcile. But Field Kit is an intelligent gestalt that torques with more post-hardcore aggression, math angles and cohesion than its parts suggest. Believe the hype.

Also notable and also fronted by another MHY alum (Ryan Fleming) is Copper Bones. They don't play out as much as other more full-time local bands, but they've been around for years and they're good. So it's maybe time to catch up with them if you haven't, especially considering the band they're becoming. They've now reemerged as a hard-rocking bass-and-drums duo that's remarkable in that it's neither a low-end experiment nor a dinky garage band but a full-on riff beast. With some resourceful technique where Fleming simultaneously plays guitar and bass, it's a little like Queens of the Stone Age with some El Ten Eleven ingenuity. And they're the best two-piece I've seen sprout from our soil in ages.

Certifying it as a particularly healthy local showcase was Orlando group Jernigan, who gave a solid performance of the kind of tasteful pop-punk that blends melody, catharsis and brains.


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