A look back on 2014 in the Orlando music scene

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A look back on 2014 in the Orlando music scene

Orlando's music scene got rocked this year by loss – Red Fox Lounge and the Peacock Room closed – and major change – Firestone morphed into Venue 578 and the Dr. Phillips Center finally opened. Along the way were small tremors from various venues – Will's Pub knocked down some walls to improve stage sightlines and bars like the Falcon, the Imperial, the Smiling Bison and the Milk Bar began booking music consistently. Backbooth welcomed Norse Korea promoter Kyle Raker and Will's Pub brought back local musician Tierney Tough as talent buyers, meaning both indie venues saw a spike in noteworthy concerts. The Social/Beacham took over the spaces that formerly housed Bar-BQ-Bar, Sky Sixty and Eye Spy, impacting DJ nights and live shows booked in those bars.

Apart from the quaking music landscape, music fans wobbled through a slew of incredible national acts who stopped in our city, like St. Vincent at the Beacham (see her again at Amway opening for the Black Keys Dec. 17), Miley Cyrus at Amway, Sun Araw at Will's Pub (thanks, Civic Minded 5!), a double shot of Scottish goodness with Chvrches AND Belle and Sebastian both booked at House of Blues, and Questlove's freakin' residency at the Social. Plus, Bullitt Bar and local rapper Niko Is attracted Talib Kweli to shoot the music video for "What's Real," featuring an Orlando audience, right here in town. We also saw new music festivals debut to great success like Total Fuck Off Weekend and Orlando Nerd Fest, both of which have already announced second dates in 2015. Relief in Abstract launched Redpoint Music Festival, marking their third year in style. We even got a small amount of closure when Ralph Ameduri's killer was found guilty days before Ralphfest kicked off its biggest iteration of the music festival yet.

In vinyl news, Park Ave CDs celebrated 30 years, enjoying the limelight with a mention on Pitchfork as one of the world's best record stores and experiencing record-breaking crowds at the shop for Record Store Day. Then we witnessed tumult when Rabbitfoot Records opened a second location in Sanford, eventually followed by severed ties with the original Titusville location, which is now called Cosmic Vinyl. The lathe stayed at Cosmic Vinyl, so get your record-cutting done there, and for now, the Rabbitfoot label is on hiatus. Total Punk turned 3, generating national buzz for their hand-stamped releases on niche sites like Terminal Boredom and music-snob syndicates like Pitchfork.

It was a lot to endure, but we made it, and 2015 holds the promise of unique local efforts at new venues like St. Matthew's Tavern as well as the giant question mark of what Bar-BQ-Bar's former owners will do now that they're leasing the old Peacock Room space (as well as the former Tony's Deli space!). With major bands already booked for next year like Fleetwood Mac at Amway, critical darlings like Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers) at Will's Pub, country stars like Lucinda Williams at the Plaza Live, legends like Diana Ross and Elvis Costello at the Dr. Phillips Center and party-starters like Andrew W.K. at the Beacham, we can hardly wait to see what's announced next.

About The Author

Ashley Belanger

Associate editor, music nerd, NBA junkie, Florida explorer and obsessive pet owner.
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