This Little Underground 

Bao Le-Huu hangs out his annual Undies awards for the best and worst in local music this year

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That’s right, you freaks. It’s that time of year again, where This Little Underground recognizes some of the notables gathered from the several hundred performances taken in this year. So, with due bonhomie, I present to you ... (super complex Michael Lothrop math-rock drumroll) ... 
the 2010 Undies!

The beat

Best blitz – October

It bled beyond the month, but the most concentrated parade of marquee indie-rock talent that bumrushed our city made for quite an October symphony. Great work by promoters, a piqued concert-going public and a lot of luck aligned to make an epic 
concert season for the ages. Damn, that 
was fun.

Best street-level development – 
 Free local shows

It’s been going on sporadically underground for a while now at places like Uncle Lou’s and Stardust Video & Coffee, but then Bar-BQ-Bar introduced a little more profile and regularity to the trend. Now, in the past several months, professional-grade live venues like Will’s Pub and Back Booth have even gotten onboard with free local showcases. The clubs and artists are doing their part, people. 
No excuses.

Best new festival Indie Summer Fest

Despite being inaugural, ambitious and partially susceptible to the faithful Florida downpours, this Audubon Park upstart actually pulled off the unlikely with good talent, solid logistics, event scale and droves of grassroots support. It actualized what the 4th Fest (see below) should have done and is already an instant festival contender.

Best homegrown releases –
 Viernes, Dr. Moonstien and 1991

With lots of weighty national media hype, Sinister Devices, the impressionistic opus by Viernes, is definitely the most far-reaching Orlando release this year. However, Dr. Moonstien’s circuit-bent playground, Spaceweenie, is probably the most innovative, and 1991’s self-titled cassette album is the most all-out thrilling.

Best Florida indie-rock missionary – Kanine Records

On that note, Brooklyn’s Kanine Records deserves some major respect for leading the charge in bringing Florida indie rock to national prominence this year on the wings of signings like Surfer Blood, Viernes and Blind Man’s Colour. But that’s neither coincidence nor carpetbagging, because this tastemaking label is actually co-owned by Orlando-raised boy Lio Cerezo. Thanks to him, the Florida gospel is finally getting its due.

Best new Orlando bands:

Lagues

Lazy Boyzzz

Rabbit Rabbit

Weeks

Wet Nurse

Most improved Orlando bands:

Peter Baldwin

Hot Hands

Introduction to Sunshine

Lonesome City Travelers

Six Dead Horses

Most exciting live band – SSLOT

There is currently nothing in this city as nut-grabbing as the sheer visceral attack of this rhythm collective. But this ain’t no hippie drum circle. This full-tilt, multi-kit assault is through and through the most unpredictable, most combustible live spectacle going 
right now.

Best party trick – Andy Matchett & the Minks’ parachute parties

Any maneuver that both completely transforms the sphere of interaction and evokes childhood glee is a win.

Biggest fail – 4th Fest

On paper, this indie-minded summer fest was positioned to conquer. Location, talent and concept – it was all thought out. Except for one glaring detail: the Florida summer torrents. And the fatal wake of disruption that this particular July day’s delivery left is proof that a well-organized event is something to respect and that it takes more than just a good idea to make a successful festival. The lack of fundamentals like solid contingency planning are what turned what should’ve been a sweet-ass cannonball splash into a belly flop.

Poorest sports – 
 The Orlando music establishment

Despite being the senior members of the scene and embodying the dignity of statesmen, the city’s old guard has indisputably been the biggest babies this year, which is quite an accomplishment around here. From the irrationally emotional hate mail to the personal Facebook threats that I received for publicly expressing a contrary (and mild) opinion, it’s clear that some members of this community treat the scene like some sort of private clubhouse of entitlement. It’s exactly that mentality that’s anathema to progress, maturity or anything good for that matter.

Most dearly departed

I’m so glad I no longer have to include Happy Valley in this list since they’re working on new material, but here’s a pour on the floor to this year’s most tragic disbandings:

Father Figure

St. Sibian

Swamp Lord

Watch Me Disappear

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