One of the unique, and often overlooked, joys of the holidays for local music heads is when prodigal musicians return home for a visit and — hey, what the hell — decide to play a show or two, creatively checking in with their community and communicating through art to old friends and family.
Obviously that didn't happen too much last year, but we think things will be different this autumn and winter. Case in point: Chicago's Wingtips playing a short run of Florida dates over the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Wait. Wingtips? The stylish and severe duo, formed in 2015, that have been creating a potent hybrid of swooning post-punk (think Chameleons) and precise electro-pop that has firmly established them as ones to watch within gothic music and the wider underground?
The very same. Vincent Segretario and Hannah Avalon may live in the Windy City but we're calling dibs for the City Beautiful since Segretario is originally from the area.
Indeed, some of the sleeper gigs of the last handful of years for darkly inclined local listeners have been Wingtips' holiday-adjacent appearances. An introductory show at the Falcon, a state-of-the-art barn-burner at Stonewall, and then a kinetic DJ set from Segretario at Stonewall the next year were mandatory attendance deals. (To say nothing of a storming set at the 2019 iteration of Absolution Fest in Tampa, where the duo held their own against heavies like Twin Tribes and Assemblage 23,, but that's a story for another day.) Segretario credits local mover Nick Mariano of Überbahn/Panic for connecting him and his band to new audiences and new friends here. "I have to thank Nick Mariano for introducing me to the community," he says, "and for being a consistent conduit to playing gigs [and] all the happenings locally."
Despite an image that merges the fashionable, angular dystopia of Blade Runner with vampiric glam, Segretario honestly enjoys returning home to all of the kitsch, sunny weirdness that suffuses Central Florida. "I unabashedly love the corny tourist stuff," he says. "I think there's something fascinating, for better or worse, about extreme commercialism. Perhaps it is because I grew up here, in these surroundings and I now have a twisted nostalgia for them."
And Central Florida's fans of gothic, electronic and related darker musics have a complementary fondness for them.
"The shows we've played on this tour thus far have been fantastic, and I think that our response abroad is definitely relative to how we're typically received in Florida," agrees Segretario. "Perhaps even more well-received than in other areas of the country, in fact! Such a great, diverse connection of scenes and communities. Our live show is more intense than it was our last time in town, and more in the vein of our new record while not skimping out on the older songs that people like."
That aforementioned new record is Cutting Room Floor. Released in September, it's another step forward for the band, with bigger hooks and choruses, soaring vocals courtesy of both Segretario and Avalon, gleaming electronics and an undeniable dark-pop savvy. There are some heavy thematics underpinning the songs too.
"In cinema, the 'cutting room floor' is the point where it is decided which footage will make it into the film's final cut," reflects Segretario. "Many of the songs are rooted in this idea of editing your own life to become the best version of yourself. We wanted to talk about how progress in life isn't linear and we sometimes have to go through trial and error to find ourselves on the other end."
Though Cutting Room Floor is an enjoyable home listening experience, we think that where this band really shines is in the live realm. Bringing their own custom light setup (and fog machine, naturally), Wingtips are able to create their own environments, remaking a typical club into something worthy of, say, Danceteria or Limelight.
"When we first started out, we used nothing. Then, at some point the lack of atmosphere wasn't cutting it, so we began using a few of our own stage lights that would fade colors slowly," says Segretario. "Even that made a world of difference. Then I learned the basics of DMX programming, and was able to create a light show that went with our setlist."
As befits a band as visually savvy as Wingtips, their most recent new work is a music video for "Run for Shelter." Promo video might be too reductive of a term; it's more of a lush, stylized and cinematic dance piece.
"The video for 'Run for Shelter' was produced with New York-based visionary Neil Schwartz, an incredible choreographer-producer," recalls Segretario. "One day he released a video/choreography piece to our song 'Sentinel' online. It blew us away, and we knew that we had to produce something with him!"
Since it's the season, after all, Orlando Weekly can't help but prod Segretario about navigating the ever-thorny waters of looking a little different and feeling the outsider when around family over the holidays. "I can't say I have any distinct pieces of advice other than just being yourself no matter what," says Segretario. "Once you lose touch with that, you become disillusioned to your own self, which is a pit of despair. We're lucky to have had the support of my immediate family, and they're our biggest fans!" Give thanks this weekend for that.