In national news, Obamafinally comes correct on same-sex support (daps to Biden's big mouth, too – for once it pays off), and Against Me! frontman Tom Gabel was empowered enough to come out as transgender. In the meantime, Florida bonehead racists prepare for fucking RaHoWa. Yee-haw. But in music ...
If you don't yet realize how much local musician Phil Longo has moved the Orlando music scene, just look at the extravaganza he managed to mobilize for his 40th birthday party (May 11, Will's Pub). Besides acts like Peter Baldwin and Lauris Vidal, the bill featured big-deal reunions of the Heathens, Country Slashers and Shyster, as well as special sets like Overdale covering Quicksand and an all-star band covering the Smiths, along with DJs and comics roasting Longo (and a couple local music critics you may've heard of). Damn, now that's the way to blow a birthday party out.
Among the most outstanding moments was Overdale, who really rocked their Quicksand set. Also pretty amazing was the Smiths cover band featuring Longo and fronted by Max Green (Great Deceivers, Mr. Pussy), whose Morrissey channeling was decently sensitive and romantic – last of the famous international playboys, indeed. Finally, the Heathens were a great sight to see and hear again. And Matt Butcher's new hairdo? Sassy!
The fact that this was both a seriously momentous carousel of Orlando rock history and a hugely celebrated sell-out event is notable in itself. But the real spell was the vibe there. It was a thing of genuine bonhomie, fellowship and respect. And it's likely no one besides Longo could've pulled something like this off. This was one of the most fiercely and proudly local-centric events in ages. Shit, maybe he should start celebrating the months of his life from now on. The scene might be more energized for it.
But the real reason to celebrate? Phil is living proof that age doesn't have to be inversely related to relevancy, not when you put forward some taste, dedication and accomplishment. His presence here adds depth of knowledge and credibility, something not always typical of this city's scene where the seniors can be stunted in their past glory and the freshman are often consumed by unearned entitlement and their own kind of misguidance. Both sides of the age divide – wherever you perceive it to be – can learn a lot from him. Well done, sir. You are a fine wine among a landscape of flash trends. It's nice to be reminded that there's some respectable institutional continuity around here. The groundwork constructed by people like him is how legacy is built.
Baltimore dream-pop phenomena Beach House returned as a headliner (May 9, the Beacham). The genius of their music is that it's a thing of extraordinary specificity, something few can truly claim. Their psychedelic boardwalk reminiscence is an exceptionally beautiful and fully rendered space that only they seem capable of. Moreover, they've perfected the luxurious manufacture of eerie familiarity. Although they're relative newcomers to our lives, it feels like their womb-pop has always been there, seemingly springing from the same fount as your own memories. Their evocative sounds have the beckoning power of times recollected – flatteringly hazy and edited to immaculateness – with maybe a little narcotic assistance. Beach House is eternally the warm fuzzies of the afterglow, and the result is enveloping suspension and supreme mystique.
Opener Zomes – with a big emphasis on the “om” – plays an electronic form of drone music that's rooted so deeply in the pulse of meditation that his moniker is practically onomatopoeia. (And, no, I have not been dying to use that word ever since it won me a spelling bee in elementary school.) The sitting solo performance ain't much to look at, but the music has a beguiling quality and prehistoric pulse that resembles a lo-fi version of early Fuck Buttons.
Although I didn't go because I can't be everywhere, the Explorers Club provided this week's WTF moment.
They played Orlando but you might not have known it because they played not at the Social or Will's but … Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (May 11). The last time I saw them was at South by Southwest 2008 when they were a modest buzz band on tastemaking indie label Dead Oceans. Now this? Weird.
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