This Little Underground 

Bao Le-Huu takes on RadioShaq, Mirabeau, We were Promised Jetpacks, New Roman Times and more.

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The NBA should considerbroadcasting the rest of the Orlando Magic's season during the daytime because this shit has turned into the biggest, most agonizing soap opera around. Go, Team Stan.

The beat

RadioShaq is an occasional event organized by Orlando band Alias Punch where they introduce a lesser-known out-of-town band alongside themselves and another local. The recent second edition (April 7, Peacock Room) featured Sarasota's Cats in the Basement, who brought their own goods to the already prop-heavy night. With an almost undefinable mash of styles (rock & roll, pop, tropical) and a B-52s-esque penchant for kitsch and camp, their music is delivered with tons of showmanship and their show is an explosion of enjoyable goofiness. Big blowup Frankenstein? Retro chick wearing gorilla hands for a backup singer? Naturally.

But what makes RadioShaq different and, well, more than your average show is that it's a thoroughly themed, incredibly involved event for which Alias Punch deserves solid credit. The Shaq theme overran the entire club with Shaq-inspired art, his face integrated into the big Andrew Spear wall mural and clips of him on the various TVs strewn about. It even extended outside onto the awnings of neighboring businesses (e.g., Shaq's Deli). And overall, the event felt like some left-field carnival.

Local band Mirabeau, who recently released their debut EP, deals in an airy, gazey brand of indie folk. Their latest performance (April 4, Will's Pub) showed that they have the right sounds, sonic height and textural richness. Moreover, they seem to have good taste, which is a huge, fundamental leg up. Although I believe they can be even better with further bite and refinement, they're onto something solid, something with lots of potential on the horizon. It'll be interesting to see what this band really becomes once they start honing themselves.

Afterward, downtown (the Social), Scottish rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks were powering up. Like a jumbo jet fueled by the drama of Interpol and the muscle of the Wedding Present, they came out roaring and just laid on the throttle virtually the whole way through. In tone, inflection and force, they make it feel like whatever is happening here between you and them is something of gravity and import. (Then again, any kind of British accent always makes things feel very serious to us Americans.) I'm an absolute sucker for these kinds of massively swirling sonics, but their emotional insistence makes it particularly engrossing.

Because of Adam Thompson's unmistakable accent, it's convenient to lump Jetpacks in with any halfway like-minded countrymen like the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit. But they're not only distinct, they stand above their contemporaries. And it's high time they stepped out and came into their own.

With a sort of melodious sad-sack sound that sometimes resembles a more juiced Pedro the Lion, St. Petersburg's Alexander & the Grapes (April 5, the Social) is a New Granada act that's never fully grabbed me on record. But live, they're much more impressive with some nice sonic grandeur and an interesting pedal steel aspect. Consider me re-interested.

Also playing was Noah Kussack's latest band, the Passenger. They have a more traditional modern-rock setup than XOXO but the Passenger sports his same signature, very natural knack for buoyant melody. The music's more mainstream but has fuller wings. It's a direction he's been headed in for a while now, which isn't necessarily my thing, but at least it's done pretty well. But memo to the keyboard player: Friends don't let drunk sisters get onstage with your band to waggle a tambourine and stupidly finger your keyboard mid-fucking-song. Christ.

And then Andy Matchett & the Minks – hated by venue staff but loved by fans – popped off a total party and covered the club in confetti, streamers and, yes, toilet paper. Love it.

The influence of New Roman Times on this city's contemporary indie-rock scene cannot be underestimated, and last weekend was another one of the occasional homecoming gigs of the formerly local, now Austin, Texas-based band (April 6, Will's Pub). Their sharply defined aesthetic tends not to fluctuate widely, but it's nice to hear that their guitars have expanded with more noise and steam. More than anything, though, it's nice to see real pros in action.

And finally, happy birthday, WPRK! Lookin' pretty hot for 60.


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