THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND 


I’m the kind of man who doesn’t blush, tweeze or drink from straws. But I may sprout boobs from the sky-high estrogen count of this week’s shows. The ladies know I love ’em, but somebody … (gulp) … help.

The Beat

Shoulda known it with the way the week began. On June 8, downtown was in full heat. A big gaggle of girls were screaming over at the Social for L.A. phenom Marie Digby, a member of the young, cutie-pie troop of female singer-songwriters who have at least a trace of legitimacy. Over at Back Booth, teenage girls swooned for We Shot the Moon, who aren’t girls but might as well be since the band features members from Waking Ashland and Sherwood.

But the Ingrid Michaelson show at the Social June 11 was the week’s most concentrated hen party. I’m not a huge fan or anything; I just wanted to hear “The Way I Am” live. It’s weird to go to a show for one song, but you’ve heard me preach the infinite marvel of a great pop song a million times and that’s one charming-ass tune. So I went. And it was worth it, because her fetching voice is the real deal in person. Michaelson is reasonably talented, but the Staten Island chanteuse is destined to be a one-hit wonder if she doesn’t start hitting that mark more often. The waiting room for “pretty good” artists runneth over, and the ones who ultimately matter are the ones who can repeatedly capture lightning in a bottle. 

Oh, y’know the law of averages that makes any sizable crowd of people singing together sound like they’re in tune? Well, that apparently doesn’t transfer to white chicks clapping to a song and keeping rhythm.

And of course a week as womanly as this just had to include a band that actually features the word “lady” in its name. Yep, the U.K.’s Ladytron played Club Firestone June 12, where they impressed with a massive sound and nice lights. Totally dig their newfound sonic assertiveness.

As an electronic pop act, Ladytron is true to form but forward-thinking. They’ve never painted themselves into a corner with outmoded styling or goth leanings. Most importantly, their chiseled aesthetic is immaculately conceived. Pulling from less obvious influences, like Italian disco, their sound is a more original, more considered construct than that of their contemporaries. Their music is a glimpse of what synth-pop could’ve become had it not effectively died due to a genre-wide atrophy of creativity.

Next to Ladytron’s colossal presence, Norwegian openers Datarock were downright amateurish. How much longer can their thin, schticky concept last, anyway?

Speaking of which, local indie-pop band Fairweather Friend weren’t exactly masterful at their CD release party at Suite B on June 8 either. Forgettably nice music, but the playing was slovenly. The integration of rock and electronic sounds requires a deft hand, and they were a wreck. Their vanilla musical vision may never, ever be interesting, but they might be palatable if they keep it simple.

Anyway, back to more manly things. Mississippi’s Colour Revolt played the Social June 9. Here’s my deal: If you’re an American band and your name adopts a British spelling, you better be good enough to justify that extra “u.” Luckily, they were, delivering a burning performance heaving with Down-South swagger and intelligent dynamics. Count them among the bright young class of Southern indie rockers.

Counterbalancing all the aforementioned femininity in one fell swoop was Mudhoney at Back Booth June 14. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, these guys are bona fide legends. And evidence that “legendary” usually means “old” was that the lone renegade stage-diver at this show was some aging fat dude acting like a mohawked teenager at the Warped Tour. That guy rules!

But every indicator of their age dissipated when they played. The rude muscle of their first-wave grunge was impressively intact. Their rawness and power were so vivid even in comparison to today’s best young bands that it was truly one of those moment-of-truth performances. The music totally slayed and all of frontman Mark Arm’s Iggy Pop–isms seemed remarkably fresh.

You know shit’s really rockin’ when loud, drunken singing is coming from the normally contained Jason Ferguson all night long. The spirit of rock & roll is far from dead, and so is Mudhoney.

baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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