This Little Underground 

Several months ago, I mentioned Das Boot, the two-to-three-liter, boot-shaped mug of beer served at awesome Sanford bierhaus Hollerbach's Willow Tree Café. Well, Redlight Redlight now features that heroic little challenge too, which could either be a good thing or a very, very bad thing.

bad thing.

The beat

For its three-year anniversary, Parafora Music — the local, indie-minded promotions group led by Chris Anderson — went all out with a five-star bill that exemplified pretty much everything this organization is about (Jan. 26, Back Booth). Though the lineup of Monotonix, Surfer Blood, the Tenant, Yip-Yip and Basements of Florida varied in profile, the unifying thread was pedigree. Some of these bands are already blowing up, others are on their way and, who knows, some may never — but they all deserve to.

That vanguard quality has become Parafora's hallmark. In terms of influence, it's earned the right to sit with the big-dog promoters of Orlando's indie scene in a short time. More so than any of the other major players, Parafora has a finger on the same underground pulse as many of the city's trailblazing micro-scene movers. That's a difficult but very critical balance to strike.

Oh, and Monotonix ruled. Again. Singer Ami Shalev finally broke his leg the next night, at their West Palm Beach performance. The remarkable thing is that this is the first time it's happened, a miracle for a total fucking maniac who dives into crowds from atop street signs. For the past couple of years, Parafora has persistently and repeatedly brought back these Israeli animals, and I've sung their praises in print more than any other single band. But now that a sold-out house has tasted their live insanity, maybe we can finally say Orlando is legitimately hip to them.

A last-minute booking brought swashbuckling country-punkers the Supersuckers to town (Jan. 24, Firestone Live). Though it was a decent set and it's been forever since they've played here, the bigger return was that of local veteran Greg Reinel, whose new band, Hot Mouth, opened.

Not since his days of the double-barreled punk shotgun Nutrajet has he truly been onstage with his own material. After the 2007 death of his brother-in-rock Jeff Wood, Reinel swore he was done and focused on his career as rock-poster artist Stainboy. But I knew that the fire would eventually rise in his belly again; it always does with dyed-in-the-wool rockers like him. And honestly, I knew the irrepressible Wood and I can't imagine that he'd want Reinel to do anything else but keep kicking ass.

Filled out by bassist Phil Longo and drummer Pete "Panda" Langlois, Hot Mouth's debut performance featured some repurposed Nutrajet songs — which is a great thing, considering the strength of that legendary material. This band inherits Nutrajet's approach of delivering strong melodies with the sleaze, grit and snot of the classic underground. Unlike Nutrajet, however, they ride a big rock thunder that's more rumble than slash. And judging from the strength of the non-Nutrajet numbers, everyone's in for a good old-school ass-beating.

For all its considerable virtues, the garage scene is a haven for bullshit. That's what makes Alabama's Thomas Function (Jan. 30, Will's Pub) so remarkable. They pack enough scrappiness to maintain precious cred with the devout, but they're way tighter than the average slop-loving neo-garage act. They're actually, y'know, a good band, with actual clarity and actual definition. Shhh — don't tell the kids.

When it comes to music, some people are willful in their preference for an arty package with personality over a slick professional one, even if it appears to have been gift-wrapped by a clumsy child. If you're one of 'em, maybe you would have liked Austin garage-synth act No Mas Bodas (Jan. 29, Stardust Video & Coffee) more than I did.

Far better, though not necessarily more polished, was new local experimental band Glen Runciter, who were possibly conceptual, sometimes exciting and definitely out there. Even their warped-and-fried cover of Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" couldn't bring them remotely close to anything orthodox. With their childlike, semi-outsider sense of nonsensicality, they could be the house band for a bizarro version of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

All of which reminded me that going to a show at Stardust is often, musically speaking, akin to visiting an alien planet. And that kinda rules.


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