This Little Underground 

click to enlarge Bradley Ryan (left) is leaving Norse Korea Presents, which Kyle Raker (right) is continuing
  • Bradley Ryan (left) is leaving Norse Korea Presents, which Kyle Raker (right) is continuing

The two founding principals of local booking force Norse Korea Presents have officially gone their separate ways (albeit amicably enough to cross-promote each other's concerts). But this past week showed that both dudes are still doing cool shit.

The beat

N.K. Presents, now under Kyle Raker's primary watch, has really been helping to mitigate the suck-ass summertime blues with a free concert series at Backbooth showcasing a generally well-chosen roster of area acts. The recent one (July 25) featured notables like Andy Matchett & the Minks, whose songs still fly even without all the props and pageantry, and the Space Coast's Flashlights, who continue to be the best area band you still don't know about.

But new to me was the Dark Sixties, an Orlando trio specializing in freak rock cut with surf and psych. Vaguely sinister and more than a little out there, their music's often like the back side of a trip. Although their songs sometimes tend to wander a bit, they're much better when they rise up and get loud and claustrophobic. It's not all that often but that's when their potential is most ripe. If they simply upped that sense of climax, they might just be onto something.

While Raker marches on with N.K. Presents, former member Bradley Ryan's new concert organizing entity, PostScript, is just starting to emerge. And it's a significant scene note because he's perhaps the city's brightest DIY promoter of the past couple years. To introduce his new baby, he brought San Francisco headliner Punch to town for the first time (July 27, Will's Pub). Their leftist, posi-hardcore was intense, technical and breakneck, but all completely intelligible. When these guys let it rip, it's a total sonic avalanche. But what gives them particular power is that they know how and when to slow things down enough to gouge deep into your soul. And if empowerment is what you're looking for, well, few people have kicked as much ass in a skirt as singer Meghan O'Neil. Together, they whipped the house into a mad froth. And one bloody head onstage (the bassist's) makes this performance officially ferocious.

Also playing was Chicago's Sin Orden. Oddly enough, their screeching, thrash-tastic hardcore only sparked the crowd into conflagration intermittently. I'm not sure what everybody was waiting for, but this Chicano crew was pretty raging. And I seriously dig their fiercely proud minority outlook.

Three days later, and many klicks over on the sprawling punk map, was a bill headlined by Tucson folk-punk collective Ramshackle Glory (July 24, Will's Pub). Their strident socio-political edge is something I can definitely get down with, but their music was too often a big, unfocused splatter of styles and sounds with the usual rock instrumentation gangbanged by trumpet, accordion, banjo and piano. Nevertheless, these guys sure do lay their hearts on the line live.

Also sharing the bill was Sanford's Dead Yetis, who have good songs despite working the twee tip hard. It's mostly sweet, innocent fun, but you have to wonder how good these guys might be if they really dialed it in because they played with an occasional spark that was almost like a folky cousin to the Thermals. And I dig that the bassist kept jumping into the crowd to keep it sparked. I mean, his rig was fucked anyway so he made the experiential best of things by getting down in it, stirring up the floor and turning it into a party. The finale was an open invite for everyone to get onstage.

Earlier that night at Will's was Central Florida's Gnarly Whales, a folk-styled pop-punk group that, judging from this slipshod performance, have a barely formed sound. It was a hardly audible unplugged set that was only nominally listenable in terms of ensemble play and felt more like a public practice than a real show.

After seeing this particularly green crowd in action, a side note that I want to make to all you younger readers out there is to please learn basic tipping etiquette if you're gonna go to a goddamned bar. Christ.

Also, I didn't go to the show, but perhaps someone can explain to me what the hell Helmet is doing opening up for the Toadies (July 27, House of Blues).

And finally, go USA!

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