This Little Underground 

Our live music columnist checks out American Party Machine, Pity Sex, Broncho and more

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If I said that a weekly metal/punk night in the heart of downtown would last a whole year, nobody would believe me. I wouldn’t believe me. All the more reason to congratulate the anniversary of Tuesday Night Juggernaut (June 18, Backbooth), a much-needed cultural counterbalance in downtown.

During my time at the big party, I was especially floored by how locked in Orlando tech-thrashers Dissident Aggressor have gotten. These guys have some of the sickest finger-work in the city.

But, damn, does anyone else even matter when American Party Machine is playing? Sadly for their bill-mates, no, especially when it comes to a celebration like this, where there’s a pro wrestler costume theme. Not that they need an occasion greater than a basic gig to dress up and be a living ensemble cartoon, but they went all out. APM is everything that’s bad about America, at its motherfucking best.

Perhaps the only living band that stands a chance against them is North Carolina’s Valient Thorr. And since APM is such a populist local force, promoter Norse Korea Presents added them to the upcoming Thorr bill at Will’s Pub after intense popular demand on the Facebook event page. It’s a head-to-head that Orlando will be lucky enough to see next week on Independence Day. Hell yeah, America!

The Beat

Orlando, you made me proud at the Moon Jelly release party (June 21, Stardust Video & Coffee; visit This Little Underground online for video), which had one of the most buzz-thick, community-minded turnouts in a while. The lovably wacky act delivered their biggest show yet with new, artistic visuals and a full five-member band. They seem so innocent but, like that thread in children’s shows that you only notice as an adult, something ain’t quite right either. They’re charming, disarming, but strange. And I think Anna Wallace’s princess outfits are just the best. What’s more, somewhere along the way, she’s become a real frontwoman. Even with the custom visuals, her stage presence – which was much more transformative and in character – was the clear polestar. Keep that up and she’ll be the undisputed face of this band.

Tulsa’s Broncho are so damned good. But when they played Orlando last October, they went almost completely unnoticed. Even so, they completely turned that mother out with their wired, evergreen, ’70s-style punk, thoroughly blowing me and about 10 other watchers away. This time (June 17, the Social), however, was different. Sure, they were opening, but they had their own group of dancing revelers in the pit who seemed to be there just for them. My suspicion proved correct: Put people in front of Broncho and good shit will happen.

Headliner Two Gallants was also pretty spectacular. In sharp, thrilling contrast to all the urbane, well-scrubbed folk blowing up right now, the San Francisco duo is comprised of some of the most fire-blooded folk-rockers working today. Their rugged music pushes folk heart through overdriven lo-fi rock, sometimes even verging on the Black Keys’ blues, all in a way that sounds less obviously referential and far more original than almost all their contemporaries.

Adam Haworth Stephens was very good when he performed his solo material here in 2010, but his dead-raising voice is truly at full mast in Two Gallants, especially with their muscular last album (The Bloom and the Blight). Stephens’ singing is raw soul driven to the brink. You gotta respect someone who practically pops capillaries just to cut into you. It’s why he’s one of the gutsiest, most riveting vocalists today.

With exhaustingly named bands like the World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and You, Me and Everyone We Know, the latest Norse Korea bill (June 19, Will’s Pub) read like a Fiona Apple album title. But of the many bands on this Enemies of Brevity tour, the succinctly named Michigan band Pity Sex was the most intriguing with a thick, chewy sound that merged openhearted melodies and slack ’90s noise. Although underdeveloped and shaky on vocals, their guitars are nice, fat and fuzzy enough to swim in. Of the two singers, however, Britty Drake only needs a little more seasoning, confidence and lead time to turn this band into a new, complete force. They’re worth keeping a keen eye on.

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