This Little Underground 

click to enlarge WILLIE SHEELY
  • Willie Sheely

Paul Hiebing and Trevor Fraseralready wrote an elegant and accurate tribute to her in Bloggytown, but I have my own bit to say about Kelly Fitzpatrick. Yes, as the Sentinel’s nightlife columnist, she was a defining, sui generis force in the culture of this city. But back in the Orlando CityBeatdays, she was the very first editor who gave me a big break. To a completely unknown and untested writer, that is everything. She rolled the dice and took an immense gamble that I hope she eventually felt was a respectable reflection on her. To this day, I strive to make her proud with every word. But first, foremost and completely outside of work, she was my friend. And to hell with fate for taking her away. Yes, I’m angry, I’m reeling, but I still know I’m blessed. Thank you, and I love you, Kelly.


Hard to believe it’s the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Although not quite as much as some of the young kids in attendance, I have an after-the-fact appreciation of Nirvana. One of my first serious girlfriends played that tape until it was practically ribbons. Played the shit out of it. We had a sometimes adversarial musical relationship (and we were on our last leg as a couple), so naturally, I was like fuck that shit. But I came around eventually. And I figure a couple of decades is enough time for my adolescent macho bullshit to dissipate (clearly), so catching some top locals reenact the legend sounded like a pretty good idea (Sept. 19, Will’s Pub).

Looking at the lineup, almost anyone would’ve pegged the heavily grunge-influenced Yogurt Smoothness as the closest in spirit to the band of honor, and they definitely sounded like it with a nicely polluted set. But the Pauses positively shocked with their total transformation. Still, them even dressing the part was less of a surprise than the normally meticulous and tasteful band actually getting down and dirty. Convincingly. I thought I’d never live to see or say it, but the Pauses can kick out some seriously smeared punk rock. And you know one mighty nostalgia dragon has been stirred when the generally behaved Matt Gersting (the New Lows) rushes the stage, yells into the mic and dives into the crowd. Rock!

While oldies pop is white-hot in the indie world right now, it tends toward either the twee or punk tip. Although NYC buzz band Cults (Sept. 20, House of Blues) features the effervescence and fresh-faced writing of acts like Tennis, they aren’t quite as literal as many of the new revivalists. By invoking much more grandeur, nerve and drama, Cults usher girl-group pop further into robust modernity. Live, the songwriting duo was filled out by three additional players to make a full band with keys and even live bells. Even with inconsistent sound and a still-developing live show, they shined just by virtue of their sterling songs. And Madeline Follin’s vocal strength proves that her sweet voice isn’t there just for powdery texture. With one of this year’s most precise, consistent records, they’re some of the finest new popsmiths going right now. Headliner Foster the People had a bigger, better show, but Cults has the gift of superior music.

Indie Fall Fest (Firestone Live, Sept. 24) wasn’t exactly the homerun that its successor, last year’s surprise hit, Indie Summer Fest, was. The move away from Audubon Park no doubt alienated some people. Still, the relocation to Firestone was interesting. The venue has the multiplicity and ampleness of space to allow for nice, nonstop pacing and compact, 360-degree movement between six stages. For the most part, the logistics worked. The issue this year, however, was the lineup. First and foremost, the quality was uneven. Moreover, the actual indie-ness of many of the acts, particularly the daytime ones in the main room, is highly debatable. No one’s saying you gotta be indie. But if that’s how you’re going to bill the event, then you must live up to it; if you don’t, then you have a fatal identity crisis on your hands, and people can sense that. Rebrand if you must, but if Indie Fall Fest is going to work, much more cohesion and authenticity needs to happen.


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