This Little Underground 

Bao Le-Huu takes on Khann, Ami Dang, Dish, the Mud Flappers, the Lake Eola sound system and more

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There's been lots of talk recently about the music playing on the new Lake Eola sound system. The idea, according to city parks manager John Perrone in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, is to buffer urban noise, which I thought was part and parcel of urban living, but whatever. The city tells me that park staff is currently testing the programming and schedule of the music and conducting random oral surveys while it's on to gauge public sentiment.

As a general rule, my instinct is to side with music, and I can see the sound system's benefit for special coordinated events. But let's be sophisticated enough to make a distinction between park and motherfucking theme park. Good god, can we not screw it up for people who actually like to leave their caves and enjoy some outdoor ambience?

However, if you absolutely must add audio, I've got some great ideas for music that: 1) won't powder-puff the atmosphere and 2) comes from legit local artists. Hit me 
up, Buddy.

I-4 Fest


The lineup for Austin's Coffee's annual I-4 Fest (July 4) has been announced, and it's a very good one in both quality and diversity, encompassing everything from Yogurt Smoothness to Chopper Stepe. So make plans (i4fest.com).

The beat


It's singularly inspiring to see a homegrown band develop robustly enough to contend on a national level. So big ups to progressive slayers Khann for releasing a punishingly intelligent record (Erode) that's easily the pinnacle of their career thus far.

Supporting their album release show (June 20, Will's Pub) was a clutch of local decibel dealers. Gruesome twosome Cannabass has some heavy drum and bass action – to be clear, I mean actual drums and bass guitar – played by real dudes. Dishing out a hardcore blitzkrieg in bite-sized blasts, their set was all of about five minutes. And that included some small talk and an equipment malfunction. Talk about no screwing around.

Abuse was a little too screamy for me. But what I said a couple weeks ago about No Qualms – multiply that by 10. These guys lay down generosity and brutality like few can. The sheer degree and balance of bliss and violence they're capable of 
unleashing in each set is jaw dropping. It's downright nuclear.

Perhaps because I'm ethnic myself, I'm not one for the ethnic-for-ethnic's sake thing. But the performance by Baltimore's Ami Dang (June 22, Urban ReThink) was interesting. Her Indian traditionalism dominated the beginning of her set with hypnotic, sitar-laden minimalism. But she's got more stylistic ambition than that, and things really got started when her dance-music heart started to beat in a lo-fi subcontinental bump. Her combination of simple construction, chunky proportions and Eastern spice can produce some pretty alluring 
basement jams.

Much less sedate but equally as transporting was the fierce, dystopian neo-tribalism of SSLOTS (they added a member with a surname beginning with "S," hence the slight name change). With chaos-flirting that teeters simultaneously on implosion and epiphany, they're still the most visceral act in town.

As a gathering place, Urban ReThink is a modern concept that's prime for downtown. As a performance space, its willingness to have a group like SSLOTS bang away in there is proof they can keep it real. But that's no surprise when the forward-thinking Pat Greene is the program manager.

For a while there, DeLand's Dish did a good job of establishing area profile. Although they tell me they're back in business, they've been out of the game for some time. And unfortunately, it looks like they're at an indeterminate crossroads. In their reemergence (June 24, the Social), they seemed lost at sea. What had 
developed into an intriguing sound now too often resembles a standard college-rock band: heartfelt but banal. And that's really too bad.

Orlando's Mud Flappers (June 25, Orlando Brewing), however, have improved and are much more together than when I first saw them. Unlike their previous clutter, order now reigns over their loaded format and the old-time charm of their songwriting emits clearly, showing that they're more than just instrumental novelty. They're a fully loaded folk outfit that's finally doing the music justice.

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