This Little Underground 

Well, hellooooo, Maitland!

The beat

Uh-huh, Maitland was kickin' on a recent Sunday. Headlining the popular country-centric Southern Fried Sundays were honky-tonkin' rockers the Painted Ladies (Feb. 15, Copper Rocket), who bore such a crowded production that they sometimes veered into "more is less" territory.

But what's subtlety and finesse to a good-time band like this, right? Still, some thoughtful trimming would bring more order and punctuation.

Across the street was the big Shak Nasti CD release party (Feb. 15, Enzian Theater). Though their jammy fusion of funk, jazz and rock isn't exactly a life-changing concept, this local band is unquestionably stacked with some of the city's best musicians.

But in their finest hour so far, they've proven they know how to put on a real event. With an expanded band and cinema-scale projections, the multimedia happening was an inspired instance of space repurposing.

Turns out, the beloved art-house theater makes an excellent live music venue even under ad hoc conditions.

Warm acoustics, tiered sightlines and ample tables and chairs all culminate in a welcoming experience. But adding the free-flowing movement of a concert to the space — something that would earn you open scorn during a film — activated it in surprisingly favorable ways. The tables in the front section were even removed to accommodate dancing, which I'm assuming is what those wiggling hippies were doing. And the fluid, informal social situation synergized Enzian's outdoor Eden Bar more than ever.

Though the theater has hosted live music before, it's usually been tied to the film festival. According to management, however, the Shak Nasti show is the kind of event diversification they're considering as they develop the scenic Eden Bar. Considering how well this went, live concerts at the Enzian could be a great addition to the music scene.

Don't lose your shit, movie geeks. Their focus remains unequivocally on independent film. But any good music event ideas should be pitched to the Enzian's "exceptional events" coordinator, Miranda Winston (, 407-629-1088).

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a band come into its own, and that's what rising local act the Pauses are doing. Their latest performance (Feb. 20, Will's Pub) revealed their electronic pop idea to be far more fully conceived than the last time I saw them. Added rock instrumentation in their framework resulted in a meatier, more substantial sound. While every other indie-pop act in town chases cuteness, there's maturity, elegance and gravitas in what the Pauses do.

Also impressive were billmates Crash the Satellites, who retooled both their lineup and their sound. They still kick out classic American indie rock in huge guitar swerves that are as loud as they are pretty, they just have more seasoning and depth in their expression now, due in large part to Paul Paxton's more assured singing. One of Florida's most overlooked indie rock bands is back and even better.

Laying down complete destruction was Virginia fraternal trio Pontiak (Feb. 21, Will's Pub). Some of the biggest studs in the Thrill Jockey Records roster, they dropped a fat-ass slab of stoned-out psych-rock that felt like the room itself was groaning. Saving the heavy atmosphere from lethargy was a thrilling dynamism that had the three brothers straddling keyboards, guitar, bass and two drum kits by themselves, all at a scalp-tickling volume.

Club Firestone

It looks like the drought of big-name concerts over at Firestone is about to end and none too soon. Instead of relying mainly on outside promoters to bring in noteworthy non-dance shows, management finally hired John Youngman as head in-house talent buyer. Youngman's an experienced, credentialed veteran known for his scene-shaping work with Anti-Pop Music Festival, Fighting Records and Fly South Music Group. The hours he's been putting in lately are about to roll out in a parade of high-profile shows beginning in March that will bring artists like Tricky, Grand Buffet, Bad Brains, Ozomatli, Jurassic 5's Chali 2NA, Cut Copy, Matt & Kim, Amon Amarth and Animal Collective. It's a smart move on Firestone's part and shows a legit commitment to contributing to the city's live music diversity. That's good news for concertgoers.


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