;Nary an original word was sung in town since last we spoke, or so it seemed. But that's mostly because I somehow managed to catch three cover bands in action last week. While you're whipping out your lighters to join me, let's admit that cover bands are, for the most part, a cheaply plebeian indulgence. Outwardly, it's a concept that's intellectually indefensible. Then again, a song is more than just notes and lyrics, and inventiveness sometimes slips in through a side door.


;Rehashed, not regurgitated

;Take local act Los Diggaz, whom I caught at the Social. While headliner and fellow cover band the A-Team offered a respectful rendition of a reasonably tasteful song list, this drums-and-piano duo took a more irreverent approach to interpreting the music of others. By stroking our guilty-pleasure zone with selections like a profanity-laden version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (a la Old School), they fully exploited the giddy, pedestrian appeal inherent to their craft. What made the set outstanding, however, was their Richard Cheese-y cocktail tack. The wave of refreshment I felt after their performance suddenly made me realize how serious our indie scene has become.


;Not that there's anything wrong with that; it's about time, really. But it's good to roll in the short bus and get retarded once in a while. For those whose IQ won't allow them to drop as low as, say, the Supervillains, Los Diggaz is it.


;The most illustrative example of artistry in a cover band, however, was French band Nouvelle Vague, which delivered a spirited, physical performance at the Social despite their detached bearing on record. With a breezy bossa-pop sound and an erudite set list that ranges from the Undertones to the Dead Kennedys, they had both angles covered.


;Put your presence ;where your mouth is

;Speaking of France, Florida's Dying also hosted a French act at Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall, Cheveu. The moniker is a pornographic reference, though it literally means "a single hair," which I suppose could be regarded as vaguely pornographic as well. Their juiced, eager set was a ragged collision of garage, noise, new wave and even blues. The recordings are interesting, but they were more exciting live, with a fried sound that was all sorts of fucked-up.


;Despite the short notice and the fact that Cheveu's not really a punk rock band, the Florida's Dying crowd came out in admirable numbers. Singularly committed to its art and filled with characters, the mini-scene that this crew has fostered is a role model for the scene at large. It's largely overlooked by the prime players because of its diminutive market share and marginal appeal, but it's often little pockets of culture like this that have sparked revolutions. Not that I'm heaping that expectation on them; I'm just saying that it's a community made fertile by passion and activism, that's all. At the core of it all, that's what it's about.


;On a separate but causally related note, the Cheveu concert is where I noticed that Uncle Lou's has taken a dramatic step forward in its evolution. With a new PA (purchased by funds raised by Florida's Dying) and a more logical floor configuration, it's actually starting to resemble a bona fide live music venue. And right about now, we could definitely use an additional small room.


;Firestone rekindles

;Yet another venue showing positive development is the retooled Club at Firestone. All the trumpeting about being "reborn" hasn't been total bunk. Though still faithful to its pedigree, the club, primarily through its "Saturday Thursday" nights, is straddling its dance roots and the indie uprising. And, in so doing, it's carving its own niche.

;;Furthermore, the recent Ladytron concert marked the first collaboration between the Club and influential promoter Foundation Presents in this still-embryonic era of the venue. The important part? More than 1,200 people showed up to see a moody electronic band play — a huge success. It's premature to call this one event a harbinger, but it sure is an encouraging glimpse into possibility for those whose musical interests lie outside the cultural mainstream.


;With international name recognition and deep pockets, the big venues like House of Blues and Hard Rock Live can bring almost any show they want to town. For too many years now, our musical meals have come in two sizes: large and small. Firestone, like the Edge Pavilion and the Beacham Theater did before, can fill the chasm between the corporate-size venues and the intimate rock clubs. And it's downtown! That's why any joint efforts between Foundation and Firestone are worth watching closely.


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