Best Of 2012

Best Remixer on Earth Alex Metric on longevity, lenience and LMFAO
Courtesy photo

British super-producer Alex Metric, who beat out the likes of Justice and Soulwax in 2009 when he was named XFM's remixer of the year, hits up Firestone Live this week, and if you're not already familiar with Metric's clutch skillset, one listen to his darkly adventurous official remix of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" – released last year as the centerpiece single of the legendary group's 2011 album Remixes 2: 81-11 – may just convert you. OW spoke with Metric about the architecture of his "dangerous" sets and saying no to LMFAO.

Orlando Weekly: We know you have new songs in the can. When and in what form will we finally hear them?

Alex Metric: I'm excited to unleash them all! Maybe it's an album, maybe EPs or individual releases. The model of writing something and then sitting on it for months is dated. I find it frustrating to be in that cycle. As an artist you want to write something and move on. Somehow, challenging those release schedule issues would be great. I just haven't figured out an effective way to do that yet.
Electronic Dance Music has exploded recently. What are the upsides and downsides to the genre, in your opinion?

[EDM] is great in many ways, but not great in others. It's amazing to see the explosion and it's exciting as an artist, the possibilities of reaching so many new people. But as it's become a lot more ingrained in pop music, you get people who want to hear these pop-dance records and only those. They're not interested in hearing new stuff. Why would you want to go out and hear the same records you hear on the radio in one set? Don't get me wrong, I have no issue with playing a popular or big record if it's good and it fits, but when DJs play them all back-to-back in one set, it's pretty one-dimensional, and a lot of them are terrible, anyway. I hope that all these new fans of dance music will learn about other music within the scene and see there is a world beyond the pop-dance stuff – just open up to new things, really. I got into electronic music to hear new interesting sounds and to be surprised on the dance floor. I like sets where you don't know what's coming next or where it might go.

How would you answer a request for LMFAO?

I would make it very clear I don't play LMFAO.

Your music is designed to stand the test of time. How do you make sure that you do, too?

First and foremost, I am a musician. I make music to get emotions out, express something, create some art – to give something of me to the world. It just so happens that I work within electronic music. I think it's important that dance music isn't just throwaway DJ tools with no soul. I want my records to still be enjoyed in three years, not just last three months while DJs hammer them then they're forgotten about. I'd like to think I've achieved that with some of my remixes and singles. I am strict about what I let leave the studio. 

With so many styles to choose from, your sets can go in any direction. How much pre-planning do you do?

I don't plan my sets at all. I like the danger element of not knowing what's coming next and running with it. I did a three-hour set recently for the first time and loved it. I started at 110 bpm disco and ended up at 130 bpm techno. It was a lot of fun taking the room on that trip. 

Alex Metric

10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9
Firestone Live
578 N. Orange Ave.

Music & Nightlife - Reader' Picks

Editor's note: This year, we attempted to introduce a category for Best Singer/Songwriter in the Bet of Orlando Readers Poll. Unfortunately, our tallying software failed us, and the program did not tabulate any votes for the category. We apologize to all of the singer/songwriters and their fans who campaigned for Best Singer/Songwriter. We're moving to a new voting system next year that has fewer quirks, so hopefully this kind of problem will be a thing of the past.



Best Club DJ

1ST Baby Lac, @djbabylac
2ND Lemy Currey,
3rd Jimmy Joslin,

Best Club Night

1ST Hospitality Blue Mondays at Blue Martini, 4200 Conroy Road, 407-447-2583,
2ND Takeovr Tuesdays at Roxy, 740 Bennett Road, 407-898-4004,
3rd Ignition Thursdays at Firestone, 578 N. Orange Ave., 407-872-0066,

Best Country Act

1ST Hindu Cowboys,
2ND Thomas Wynn & the Believers,
3rd Lonesome City Travelers,

Best Electronic Act

1ST Yip-Yip,
2ND Trayer,
3rd Blood Eagle,

Best Experimental Act

1ST Yip-Yip,
2nd (tie) Dr. Moonstien,
2nd (tie) TELETHON,
3rd (tie) Crater Tater,
3rd (tie) The Mud Flappers,

Best Folk

1ST The Mud Flappers,
2ND Jubal's Kin,
3rd Thomas Wynn & The Believers,

Best Hip-Hop

1ST Solillaquists of Sound,
2ND MC Wreckshin,
3rd Mad Sexual Genius,

Best Indie Act

1ST Random Encounter,
2ND Snafu,
3rd (tie) Andy Matchett & The Minks,
3rd (tie) The Pauses,

Best Jazz Act

1ST Absinthe Jazz Trio
2ND The Cook Trio,
3rd Shaun Rounds Blues Band,

Best Karaoke

1ST Big Daddy's Roadhouse, 3001 Corrine Drive, 407-644-2844,
2ND Korndogg's Rock Band Karaoke,multiple locations,
3rd Rising Star at Universal Orlando's City Walk, Universal CityWalk,
6000 Universal Blvd., 407-363-8000,

Best Latin Act

1ST Rico Monaco Band,
2ND Abdias Ernesto Garcia,
3rd no winner

Best Live Music Club

1ST The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave., 407-246-1419,
2ND The Plaza Live, 425 N. Bumby Ave, 407-228-1220,
3rd Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-5070,

Best Local Music Festival

1ST Nerdapalooza,
2ND Orange You Glad,
3rd Florida Music Festival,

Best Mainstream Rock Act

1ST Thomas Wynn & the Believers,
2ND Rug,
3rd Andy Matchett & the Minks,

Best Metal Act

1ST Sci-Fried,
2nd Gargamel!
3rd Primary Colors,

Best Open Mic

1ST Austin's Coffee, 929 W. Fairbanks Ave., 407-975-3364,
2ND Natura Coffee & Tea, 10278 Collegiate Way, 407-482-5000
3rd The Other Bar, 18 Wall St., 407-843-8595

Best Pop Act

1ST Beebs & Her Money Makers,
2ND Britt Daley,
3rd (tie) Saskatchewan,
3rd (tie) Micah & the Reason,

Best Punk Act

1ST The Attack,
2ND Awesome & the Ass Kickers,
3rd Wet Nurse,

Best Reggae/Ska Act

1ST The Supervillains,
2ND Teflon Don,
3rd (tie) Hor!zen,
3rd (tie) Mystik NRG,

Best Soul Act

1st The Legendary JC's,
2ND Kaleigh Baker,
3rd Shaun Rounds Blues Band,

Best Bar (Smoking)

1ST Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-5070,
2ND The Peacock Room, 1321 N. Mills Ave., 407-228-0048,
3rd Tanquerays, 100 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-8540

Best Bar (Non-Smoking)

1ST Redlight Red Light Beer Parlour, 745 Bennett Road, 407-893-9832,
2ND The Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden, 1800 N. Orange Ave., 407-228-4992,
3rd (tie) Oblivion Taproom, 5101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-802-4800,
3rd (tie) The Milk Bar, 2424 E. Robinson St., 407-896-4954,

Best Bartender

1ST Teege Braune, Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour, 745 Bennett Road, 407-893-9832,
2ND Josh Call, Backbooth, 37 W. Pine St., 407-999-2570,
3rd (tie) Bartender Brian, Lizzy McCormacks, 55 N. Orange Ave., 407-426-8007,
3rd (tie) Phil Longo, multiple locations

Best Craft Beer

1ST Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour, 745 Bennett Road, 407-893-9832,
2ND World of Beer, multiple locations,
3rd Frank & Stein's Eatery and Pub, 150 S. Magnolia Ave. 407-412-9230,

Best Dive Bar

1ST Wally's Mills Avenue Liquors, 1001 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-6975,
2ND Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-5070,
3rd Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour, 745 Bennett Road, 407-893-9832,

Best Drunken Hookup Bar

1ST Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457,
2ND Bar-B-Q Bar, 64 N. Orange Ave., 407-648-5441
3rd The Lodge, 49 N. Orange Ave., 407-650-8786,

Best Gay Bar

1ST Parliament House, 410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-425-7571,
2ND Pulse, 1912 S. Orange Ave., 407-649-3888,
3rd Revolution, 375 S. Bumby Ave., 407-228-9900,

Best Strip Club

1ST Dancer's Royale, 5221 E. Colonial Drive, 407-281-0120
2ND Rachel's, 401 Semoran Blvd., 407-767-2977; 8701 S. Orange Ave., 407-965-0992
3rd Diamond Club, 527 N. Semoran Blvd., 407-737-2130

Best Happy Hour

1ST Buffalo Wild Wings, multiple locations,
2ND MoonFish, 7525 W. Sand Lake Road, 407-363-7262,
3rd Elephant Bar, 4054 Conroy Road, 407-370-6412,

Best Tap Room

1ST Oblivion Taproom, 5101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-802-4800,
2ND Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-5070,
3rd Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour, 745 Bennett Road, 407-893-9832,

Best Sports Bar

1ST Buffalo Wild Wings, multiple locations,
2ND Sportstown Billiards, 2414 E. Robinson St., 407-894-6258,
3rd Miller's Ale House, multiple locations,

Best Wine Bar

1ST The Wine Room on Park Ave., 270 Park Ave S., 407-696-9463,
2ND Eola Wine Company, 136 S. Park Ave., 407-647-9103
500 E. Central Blvd., 407-481-9100,
3rd Aroma Italian Café & Wine Bar, 712 E. Washington St., 407-426-8989,

180 Grey Goose Lounge
180 Grey Goose Lounge

Best skyline drinking

180 Grey Goose Lounge
400 W. Church St., 407-440-7180,

If you're afraid of heights, stay away: Aptly named after its striking 180-degree view of downtown Orlando, this chic sanctuary sits at the top of Amway Center's spire. It's open year-round – not just for concerts and sporting games – which makes it a fantastic spot to start your evening out on the town. The elevator shoots you up into an attractive Manhattan-inspired indoor space, complete with a clean, under-lit bar top, and local DJs spin tunes to create the vibe. Step outside onto the terrace and you can not only grab a flavored martini, but also a sparkling snapshot of the downtown skyline. It's hard to beat a view like that, and with weekly cocktail specials and no cover charge, 180 is at the top of our list when we want a venue that'll give us that big-city feel while barely leaving our own backyard.


Best honorary local band

Mr. Gnome

The Cleveland Scene calls them "the best band in Cleveland," but we know the truth about Mr. Gnome: They're an Orlando band at heart. That's why the duo of singer-guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer Sam Meister have played the City Beautiful five times since 2009, electrifying Backbooth or Will's Pub each time – and causing OW music critic Bao Le-Huu to shit himself with pleasure. Of course, they play a lot of cities, so is Orlando even special to them anymore?
"We really do enjoy the music scene and people in Orlando," Barille says. "And there are an unusual amount of ultra right-wing conservative billboards on the highway when you're driving into the city."
The pair will perform next at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in their nominal hometown on Aug. 1, but they've remained star-struck with O-town ever since day one.
"We were leaving Backbooth after our first show there and saw Lil' Wayne chillin' outside of a bar in downtown Orlando," Barille says. "Sam screeched on the brakes and shouted, 'Lil' Wayne!?' It was awesome."

Best music festival

Orange You GladMusic Festival

The long-awaited, full-scale return of Orlando's most significant indie-rock festival still standing turned out to be well worth the wait with an eye-poppingly ambitious comeback. Thanks to a partnership with indie booking force Parafora Presents, Orange You Glad re-emerged on the next level with the best national lineup seen here this year (Cults, Tennis, Grimes, Zambri, Caveman, the Big Sleep, Mr. Gnome, et al.) as its anchor. It all culminated to make OYG the city's smartest parade of cool currently active.


Best new music event

Festival of Light & Sound

Community-based cultural events abound in this city, but this newcomer festival is the year's gold standard. The Festival of Light & Sound drew more than 1,000 people in its debut this spring. They packed into the Plaza Live and its parking lot for a night of quality local music, organic well-being and positive, family-friendly vibes. Co-organizer Alexandrah Sarton says it was planned as a one-time event but the jaw-dropping turnout and requests for more have her crew contemplating making it an annual thing.


Best local music scene celebration

Phil Longo's 40th birthday show

Leave it to the man who's played thirstily in countless bands over the years to span generation and genre to unify all the best aspects of the area's indie scene in one place for a single purpose. The occasion was his birthday, but what the capacity crowd truly ended up celebrating was the music culture of our city. From beloved reunions (the Heathens, Country Slashers, Shyster) to the current rising class of artists, this was an open-ended time capsule and the most galvanizing event for Orlando's forward-thinking music scene.


Best new local music persona

Black Gallery

Orlando MC Swamburger (Solillaquists of Sound) is famous for many things – consciousness, intellect, enlightened militancy ­–
but not so much for being humorous. His alter ego Black Gallery, however, is a whole other muthafuckin' thing entirely. The alleged Internet star loudly pimps the crass bombast of rap culture – "niggas," "bitches" and all – in a hilariously satirical way. Although the caricature is deliberately oversized, the sharpness of the comedy is as much of a surprise as the source.

Best island of misfit instruments

Accidental Music Festival

It really was a happy accident – local composer (and occasional OW contributor) Christopher Belt had scheduled a series of shows by local modern-
classical composers at Urban Rethink; his shows coincided with another series of experimental music performances scheduled by the Civic Minded 5 at Timucua White House. Somebody joked that it was like an "accidental music festival," and a concept was born. For 10 days in September 2011, fans of forward-thinking music were treated to world premieres of compositions by local luminaries Keith Lay, John Alvarez and Matt McCarthy, the Florida premiere of an opera by internationally renowned composer Juan Trigos, concerts and workshops with accomplished local musicians, including Michael Welch, Jim Ivy and Kris Gruda, and performances by experimental musicians like Emily Hay and Wayne Peet. The Accidental Music Festival was truly an accident in 2011, but in 2012, it's taking on a more organized and intentional tone – look for it from Nov. 8-18, sponsored by the Timucua Arts Foundation.


Best improved concert calendar

The Peacock Room

For better or for worse, the Peacock Room's event calendar has always been a mixed bag. While that adds to the bar's charm, eclecticism and accessibility, it doesn't always lend itself to consistent quality. However, the knowledge, taste and scene connectivity of new bartender Phil Longo has given the bar's show calendar its most potent shot of freshness in many years, upping the menu with a higher caliber of folk, country, punk, metal and indie rock.


Best underutilized concert space

Wally's parking lot

Cumbersome logistics abound any time you repurpose a space for an outside event involving live music and alcohol (permits, stage, sound, security, time restrictions, etc.). But Southern Fried Sunday and Orange You Glad Music Festival recently showed how surprisingly effective the parking lot for Wally's Mills Avenue Liquors could be for concerts. In the city's most budding cultural corridor, this alley lot is the ripest exterior event space on the strip to emerge so far. And the management of the O.G. dive bar tells us their ears are wide open when it comes to local music shows.

Best place to get wired

White Cup Coffeehouse
125 W. First St., Sanford

Downtown Sanford saw its cool factor rise exponentially this year, and on perhaps its coolest block lives this appropriately weird java hang. Local art adorns the walls; the specially roasted coffee beans pack an extra caffeine kick, and an open mic stands dauntingly to the side, awaiting fresh saliva, while the owner tinkers away at a refurbished guitar in a tiny workshop next to the bar. Yes, White Cup Coffeehouse will restring, retune and reanimate your used-up axes and even offers in-house lessons.


Best animatronics

Mayer Hawthorne's/MGMT's Rock-afire Explosions

Several years ago, Aaron Fechter, creator of those animatronic singing bears (aka the Rock-afire Explosion) you may remember from when ShowBiz Pizza Place was an actual place, raised the band from the dead with a series of viral YouTube videos. Rediscovered interest in the countrified outfit culminated with an acclaimed 2008 documentary, and since then, Fechter's robots have been everywhere. A year after the doc, MGMT gave Rock-afire Explosion a cameo in their trippy video for "Electric Feel," and late last year, after locating the nondescript warehouse where the animatronic band is stored, we uncovered neo-soul act Mayer Hawthorne hanging out with Billy Bob, Rolfe and the others. By November, the sighting made more sense in the form of the band's video for Mayer Hawthorne's song "Dreaming," starring none other than the Rock-afire Explosion.


Best improved concert room

Small hall at the Plaza Live

The old splendor of this venue's grand hall is undeniable. But, besides being in its considerable shadow, the small hall used to feel like an ad hoc music room. However, recent investments like a new PA, permanent sound booth, additional acoustic wall treatment for improved sound, upgraded lighting rig and removal of the tiered floor to increase capacity have gradually transformed the more accessible space into a legitimate concert room in its own right that's hosted acts like Maps & Atlases and Cults. And according to the venue, plans to double the PA are already in the works.

Best High-End Space for Lowdown Gossip

The Abbey
100 S. Eola Drive

Though we may have been initially dubious about the potential for the Abbey – it is, after all, located at the base of the Sanctuary, one of downtown's more glamorous condo-living compounds – thinking it would be little more than a mess hall for people with no messes, it's actually blossomed into a charming multi-purpose venue for parties and performances alike. The Abbey's real value, though, comes during political season, when it unconsciously morphs into the de facto donor magnet for your suited hopefuls. Put politics and booze together and you're bound to have some seething gossip, emotional breakdowns and even, on occasion, somebody passing out. Turns out that everyone has messes!


Best bar to really feel like you're in Florida

Wekiva Island
1014 Miami Springs Drive, Longwood

No matter how urban – or urbane – you think you are, sometimes nothing beats a lazy day drinking alongside a good old-fashioned gator-infested Central Florida river. Wekiva Island, a little hot spot for boating, drinking and other outdoorsy good times tucked just off a main thoroughfare down the road from Wekiwa Springs State Park, is one part marina, one part environmentalist retreat, with a big old dose of outdoor bar and grill thrown in for good measure. It's got lush, jungly scenery that serves as the backdrop for bonfires, cornhole games, volleyball and lounging. Rent a canoe and spend the day cruising up and down the river, then rent a party cabana or sit on the boardwalk with a beer in hand and watch the world – and its wildlife – go by. It really doesn't get much more Florida than this.


Best sober-up, don't hate yourself late-night food

Tako Cheena
932 N. Mills Ave., 321-236-7457,

While the food is excellent at any hour of the day, here we celebrate Pom Moongauklang's latest venture for its accessibility to the overserved. Not only is Tako Cheena conveniently located in the Mills Avenue show corridor, bookended by Will's, Wally's and Uncle Lou's, it also stays open until 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday, meaning you can shovel something down to soak up the beer before you weave your way home. Better, the Latin-Asian tacos are cheap, so your fourthmeal won't cut into your drinking budget. Best, Pom and her partner, Edgardo Guzman, serve up junk food that's anything but junky – fresh vegetables, house-made sauces, and spicy slow-cooked and marinated proteins that won't exacerbate your hangover in the morning.


Best bar nights

The Falcon Bar and Gallery
819 East Washington St.

Tired of the same predictable events, same karaoke nights, same DJs spinning the same old stuff every weekend? Think of the Falcon Bar as the antidote to the scene fatigue you're feeling. When this little corner bar/gallery opened in 2011, it threw all the rules about how to "do" bar nights out the window – anything goes at the Falcon Bar, from PBR-inspired art shows to parties celebrating the release of the Taco Bell Doritos Locos taco to a raucous showing of Ricky Powell's World Famous Slideshow to darkwave music nights where Joy Division, not Deadmau5, is on heavy rotation. Even when there's nothing specific going on, we find ourselves gravitating to the Falcon Bar because even on a dull night, it just feels like the kind of place where something good could happen at any moment. ■