Thursday, August 2, 2018

Here's what the new Grumpy's Underground Lounge could mean to the Mills Avenue scene

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 11:04 AM

click to enlarge Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Too Bad and Alien Witch, Grumpy’s Underground Lounge, July 31

In terms of new openings, it’s been a historically ambitious year on the city’s music club landscape. Not all has panned out exactly as promised, but shit’s been interesting. Among the quietest entrants, though, has been new Mills 50 spot Grumpy’s Underground Lounge.
click to enlarge Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Grumpy's Underground Lounge
The small hangout is right next door to essential live-music breeding ground and local color vortex Uncle Lou’s and seems to operate on that weird Mills Avenue frequency that’s both similar and different to Lou’s. Its programming is eclectic beyond visible rhyme or reason and its presence so far is distinctly under the radar. It’s curiously sporadic in activity, operating on the low since early this year with a lean events calendar and a Facebook page listing only hours Thursday through Saturday. But I’ve been looking for a reason besides karaoke and open jam nights to check out Grumpy’s for a while now, and the recent live show there was finally it.
click to enlarge Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
Headlining was Tallahassee band Too Bad, who got nice and loud with their overdriven hardcore. It was rough, raw and capable of real ignition.
click to enlarge Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
click to enlarge Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
An act of some intrigue this night was Alien Witch, the solo vehicle of Orlando musician Darren Crittenden. He’s a former Bubble Boy who’s also one half of Joy Lane, the stark electronic act that recently thrilled next door at Lou’s.
click to enlarge Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
click to enlarge Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
This new work continues Crittenden’s explorations out on the minimalist fringe, this time riding a cold wave with gloomy guitars. Live, Alien Witch’s electronics are much more background, the keyboard functioning primarily to provide the skeletal beat in this performance while the guitars (12-string and bass) weave a bleak tapestry evocative of early Cure. It’s an exercise in stark atmosphere that’s a direct tap back into the original marrow of post-punk as if the past 40 years (or the mainstream) never happened.
click to enlarge Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
click to enlarge Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
click to enlarge Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Alien Witch at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
But back to Grumpy’s. The cozy joint is just about the size of Uncle Lou’s, though not nearly as much of an outright dive. It’s clean (for now) but definitely a work in progress. Instead of a concept place, it feels more like the kind of open community space that can take shape organically according to the draw, like St. Matthew’s Tavern up the street. Also, though not a restaurant first, Grumpy’s does do some late-night food service.
click to enlarge Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Grumpy's Underground Lounge
click to enlarge Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Grumpy's Underground Lounge
It’s too early to know exactly what its place will be in the Mills Avenue ecosystem, but there’s already some promise. Because of Grumpy’s situation to the freak scene of Lou’s, some mingling is all but guaranteed. And this is where things could get interesting and synergistic.
click to enlarge Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
There’s already a notable procession of joint events planned that will span both spaces like Battle for Mills (Aug. 3), Sell-Out Con (Sep. 15), Sun & Moon Festival (Sep. 20) and Florida Underground Fest (Oct. 6). Even on this night, there was an ebb and flow of live-music action that had people shuffling back and forth between the two clubs. Standing there inside Grumpy’s, watching the bands and the curious foot traffic just beyond the storefront windows behind them, it already feels like a key gateway into Oddlando just got a little wider.
click to enlarge Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Too Bad at Grumpy's Underground Lounge
Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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