THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND 


A big pour on the floor for Jerry Wexler, please. Before dying Aug. 15 at his Sarasota home, the man contributed immeasurably to the music world as a journalist, label mogul and producer. Along with label partner Ahmet Ertegün, he was a key figure in ushering black music to the fore of the popular American consciousness (dude actually coined the term "rhythm and blues") and we all know how beautifully that turned out. RIP, Jerry. Catch you on the flip.

The beat

There's more to DeLand — the little music scene that could — than charming indie folk acts. Take Blood by Dawn, for example, whose death metal enlisted the usual checklist of chugging guitars, blast beats and sandstorm vocals (Aug. 14, Caffe da Vinci). Besides inciting a mosh pit in the normally picturesque café space (rock!), there wasn't anything particularly remarkable about their set.

The music of fellow DeLand band Hope and Suicide, however, is the real reason I motored out there. Moving at a slower, more threatening pace, this is deadly Southern metal with long, sharp teeth.

They've been quiet lately, but they just completed their first full-length album, to be released Sept. 16 on Nashville's SuperNova Records, the label owned and run by Today Is the Day's Steve Austin. They're starting a major East Coast tour in September to support it that includes dates with equally dope acts like Zoroaster, Black Tusk and Kylesa.

This show was Hope and Suicide's re-emergence as a live entity and a hide-tanning reminder that they mean business. They're one of those bands so dominating that they command every shred of your being for the duration of the set. Nothing else matters when Hope and Suicide is playing. Nothing. How the paint in the room managed not to peel, I'll never know.

What makes them great is that they manifest the full throttle and essence of metal without any of its clichés. The result is pure heaviness. Of the deep Florida tradition of heavy music, Hope and Suicide is the absolute cream. Bow. Down. Now.

Oh, and the week's funniest sight also happened at Caffe da Vinci, specifically in the restroom, where I saw two dudes pissing into the same little urinal because Mr. Third-in-Line just couldn't wait any longer. At least that's the excuse he offered when he saw the look on my face. Priceless.

Also godly was Nebula (Aug. 15, Back Booth). This trio captured every glory-oozing element of hard rock and unleashed their set with serious swagger. Wicked licks, sexy rock & roll curves and deep stoner-rock grooves; man, it was all there.

But just when I thought I had the biggest high in the house, I caught the week's second-funniest sight. Situated at the stage's edge was No. 1 Fan Guy, rocking out so rapturously that his oddly undulating body language actually bordered on interpretive dance. Awesome.

Also on the bill were Californian rockers Totimoshi. On paper, I should totally dig this band, but I don't. There's something about their combination of big rock riffage and alt-metal experimentation that just doesn't click tidily. In person, however, with the significant boost of live muscle, it made a lot more sense. They're unique, but they need more clarity of expression.

While an exhaustingly bitchy comment thread goes on at OW's website about Journey tribute band Frontiers, Beatles tribute act the Silver Beats came to town and rendered it pointless (Aug. 15, the Social). Listen, cover acts are about novelty and acting — that's it. Just play the part and enjoy.

On all counts, these Japanese wannabes were far superior to Frontiers. Focusing on the preciousness of the Beatles' early era, this band took what is essentially a cheap and simple pleasure and went with it, wardrobe and all. The confluence of jaw-dropping sonic fidelity and period costumes made the fantasy implied by a cover group actually spring to life. I haven't seen a room have that much fun in a long-ass time.

baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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