Monday, August 20, 2018

Squad Five-0, Gasoline Heart and Mike Dunn tap familial bonds to reunite an Orlando music scene

Posted By on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 3:32 PM

click to enlarge Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Squad Five-0 reunion, Gasoline Heart and Mike Dunn, Will’s Pub, Aug. 18

There was a time in the 2000s when, amid a swelling new-millennium indie tide, there was a strong little scene here in Orlando that staked a vibrant claim at the classic altar of rock & roll. It was a society built on big hooks and big heart, with unmistakably American sounds that were all blue jeans and red blood. And this recent bill was a postcard from that heyday.
click to enlarge Mike Dunn and Louis DeFabrizio at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Mike Dunn and Louis DeFabrizio at Will's Pub
Gasoline Heart and Mike Dunn were cornerstones of that local trad-rock scene of the mid to late 2000s, between them producing some of the most life-affirming songs to ever come out of Orlando. Although Savannah’s Squad Five-0 weren’t from here, they came here to play plenty in the early 2000s to wildly enthusiastic receptions, ultimately forging practically familial connections to our local scene, particularly with the aforementioned. S5-0 co-founder John Fortson would later go on to join Gasoline Heart and become a permanent local himself to this day. So the ties are deep.
click to enlarge Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub
But, as it does, time marches on and either scatters or dissolves everything. S5-0 went dark and Gasoline Heart frontman Louis DeFabrizio relocated to New York, leaving Dunn the only one on this bill to remain an Orlando presence. Once in a while, though, forces reconvene and mount a brief revival in the name of history. And this show was just that.
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
Squad Five-0, like all of us, are older now. However, their live vigor and grip on the audience have apparently eluded age. Before the show, I was reminiscing about seeing them in their prime, with bodies flying everywhere and singer Jeff Fortson Jesus-walking atop the crowd. But nearly 15 years after their final album came out, all that just occurred again right here.
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
They can still incite a pit, make chests burst and light up a room. Squad Five-0’s still got the juice. And this show was testimony to a band that left a mark whose embers can still ignite at will.

click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
Of that mid-2000s Orlando trad-rock scene, none were more foundational than Gasoline Heart. Waving the banner here with the most passion and shine, they were the flagship. Behind all their punk-inspired muscle beat a heart of rock & roll, pure and classic.
click to enlarge Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub
Once DeFabrizio left town, he took the name with him and still occasionally performs but with different players. Now, however, back to the place it all began alongside some OG members, the band’s famous gusto felt like it never left. It was a set with as much feeling as octane.
click to enlarge Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gasoline Heart at Will's Pub
A direct and bright product of the Gasoline Heart orbit, Mike Dunn would go on to cement a distinguished place for himself in the Orlando music canon, perhaps the last of his kind around here until some young guns again rediscover the virtue of good heartland rock.
click to enlarge Mike Dunn with Tanner Johnson at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Mike Dunn with Tanner Johnson at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Mike Dunn with Tanner Johnson at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Mike Dunn with Tanner Johnson at Will's Pub
This time he played acoustic, accompanied only by a violinist (Tanner Johnson). As nice as that fresh arrangement was, the most notable aspect of the performance was his own voice.
click to enlarge Mike Dunn at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Mike Dunn at Will's Pub
While S5-0 stood out for their astonishing lack of rust, Dunn now wears every mile of the years since his first emergence, and he wears them heavily. In his case, that’s an unexpected blessing. As it goes, hard luck and heartbreak often make good art. And, clearly, whatever toll life has exacted on Dunn’s spirit has given his expression some newfound patina and depth. Even if it’s more shaded, his trademark soul has now taken on more richness and character. It seems the freshest face of the Kings of New England is wearing age well.
click to enlarge Mike Dunn at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Mike Dunn at Will's Pub
Never let it be said that Orlando has no sense of history. With these bands back together, the venue radiated sweet local nostalgia. It wasn’t just a reunion of a band, it was the reunion of a scene.
click to enlarge Mike Dunn and Louis DeFabrizio at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Mike Dunn and Louis DeFabrizio at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
It was a night of anthems and contagious camaraderie between players and fans alike. When you’re standing in the middle of a full house singing along with hearts on fire to songs that sprang from this soil, you know you’re basking in the glow of some glory days.


Top to bottom, this night was a brilliant beam from a golden age in Orlando.
click to enlarge Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Squad Five-0 reunion at Will's Pub
Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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