THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND 


It's official. Obama's sworn in — er, twice — and the universal excitement over his inauguration echoed in the local music scene.

The beat

Headlining one of the downtown inauguration celebrations were local boys Gasoline Heart (Jan. 20, Back Booth). It was a golden day to be an American, so their domestic, swollen-hearted brand of rock was an ideal soundtrack. I like this band for their complete lack of hesitation in going for that big melody. They haven't performed much lately, so it was good to hear their huge, ringing trad-rock hooks again, even if they were a little sloppy and took a bit too much inflective liberty with the vocals.

By the way, why do you singers do that so often live? I get that you have to keep the songs you sing over and over fresh for yourself, but it seldom meets a positive end. The odds that you'll spit out some transcendental variation are staggeringly low. Ninety-eight percent of the time you just rob your fans of their climax. The original melody is why they love the song in the first place, stupid.

While I'm pickin' bones, I should mention that Christian Wilson & the Wayward Sons opened. Beneath the superficial Southernisms, their business is just a wanky drive in the uninteresting middle lane of commercial rock — below the speed limit, no less. Technical skill isn't their issue … it's the very sensibility at their core. And that, kids, is much harder to fix.

Finally, it was absolutely genius of Bar-BQ-Bar to book Watch Me Disappear to play its sendoff for Dubya (Jan. 20). There couldn't have been a more perfect band for the occasion, and this time it had nothing whatsoever to do with their music. Adios, sucker.

A new entrant in the local scene is Cherry Spoiler (Jan. 23, Back Booth). Seriously, what good can possibly come from a band whose name has the word "cherry" in it? Turns out, a lot. The '70s completely rule and they are a genuine '70s rock band. Pulling from the best parts of the decade, their debut performance was like Cheap Trick juiced with a little Bowie and punk. Though straightforward, this is a band of veterans (former members of Nutrajet, Rocket 88 and Luxurious Python) who understand fundamentals. The result was a sound big in melody and scale.

This was also guitarist Greg Reinel's first musical appearance since the passing of his Nutrajet bandmate Jeff Wood, whom I still miss, so it was a righteous pour on the floor on the band's part when they played Nutrajet's "December Drowning."

Headlining was local act Jim O'Rourke & the Rugs, who ripped classic British rock in a three-guitar orgy. Not that they needed it to prove their open love of the Stones, but they did an outstanding, nicely layered cover of "Play With Fire," which will put you in good standing in my book any day.

Yet another indicator that it is indeed a new era is the rise of Tampa's Yo Majesty, a pair of electro-crunk rappers who are lesbian, Christian and so lewd as to completely negate their faith. They're 2 Live Crew turned perfectly inside out and revamped for the 21st century. Hey, we may bungle a lot of things in Florida but we got the raunch-and-bounce on lock. Songs about booty-clapping and pussy? We own that shit, y'all.

Well, their latest Orlando performance was helmed alone by Shunda K because her counterpart Jwl B is in jail, which is pretty gangsta for a party rapper (Jan. 21, the Social). Nonetheless, her immense personality and charisma carried the show just fine. Yo Majesty's undeniably fun, but I'm kinda over 'em, and I'm not the only one.

Rolling things back to simpler times was anachronistic joke band Two Man Gentlemen Band (Jan. 22, Caffe da Vinci). Yeahhh shee, these NYC humorists like to kick it old-school, as in old timey. Back to vaudeville, actually. They're even sponsored by a freaking kazoo company!

The modern twist comes in the form of provocative subject matter and randy double-entendres. It's a tack that wears thin fast on record, but still fetches live. Even though their musicianship is absolutely airtight, their show is as much comedy routine as it is concert. And their well-honed comic timing, live antics and authentic wardrobe make their performances a continual amusement.

baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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