This Little Underground

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A big pour on the floor for Michael Jackson. Despite the King of Pop's dubious personal life, his work was undeniable. There is indeed a justice in him finally leaving a world that freeze-dried his soul in a state of incompleteness and made a tragic beast of him. All we're left to do is shake our heads and close the book on one of the last great performers.

Garage days

On July 6, with So Pastel and Six Dead Horses, the Social will debut an interesting summer concert series called Garage Days. Despite its name, the shows will focus on hard genres like punk and hardcore, with lineups curated by Chris Rae. The intriguing part is the logistics, since they'll occur only in the rear room of the club with entry through the back alley door (y'know, the one where all you dumbasses try to sneak into regular shows), which guarantees a more intimate experience for sure. Bands interested in playing can contact Rae ([email protected]), but know that he's being very selective.

The beat

First, let's dispense with the positive of the John Vanderslice show (June 21, the Social). The actual full-band performance was a well-executed rendition of his lovely melodic craft. The magic of Vanderslice's music lies in his ability to be simultaneously intuitive and unexpected. The man simply has a distinctive way with tune.

That said, though I wholly support Vanderslice's work, this particular performance cast him in an entirely new light and his bitch rating — which was nil up to this point — spiked. Y'see, there was one particularly excited and physically demonstrative fan in front of the stage. Sure, the fanboy's zealous gesturing was a little out of place visually, but it's not like there were any vocal outbursts during songs. At worst, it was vaguely annoying. But mostly, it was humorous, at least to anyone with a sense of humor. Vanderslice, however, shut down fanboy by initiating a chain of actions that began with him kneeling down onstage and talking directly into fanboy's ear, then having his own sound man get one of the club's bartenders to contain fanboy, and concluded with the sound guy personally escorting fanboy off the floor and back to the bar where he asked fanboy to remain … like a child in timeout! All this 'cos he was ruining the vibe. What kind of diva shit is that? Not exactly the model of aplomb, is he?

On the scale of things musicians have to deal with, this was as minor a distraction as it comes. It's an indie pop show, not the fucking opera. Excessive enthusiasm is an annoyance that lots of musicians would gladly take, especially from someone who paid to see them perform. Something just sucks about that.

Good things are going on in the organic and ambitious Mills 50 district. Thanks to the enterprising creative community behind the Cameo Theatre, that now includes more music events. At their latest showcase (June 27), I was swept by West Palm Beach's Surfer Blood (formerly TV Club). Like sweetness accosted by danger and chaos, their blaring guitar pop pairs ringing, lovely and occasionally triumphant melodies with head-rushing swells of noise. They're onto an exhilaratingly modern sound and have the goods to make big ripples. And wrecking your instruments at the end of your set never hurts.

Local act Hannah & the Halfway House came with an outstandingly full seven-piece band and played a quality set of alt-folk rich in well-worn patina, spectral twangs and clucking banjo. Despite having its natural strength too often bridled, Hannah Amdahl's voice breathed youth into the old-timey. Though they're already quite good, this band won't realize its max potential until she fully spreads her wings.

God, I hate to even kick this anthill because they have the most annoying, deluded fans on Earth, but I checked in on locals Social Ghost (June 26, the Social). Every time anything's written about them in this paper, e-mails and online comments dripping with outrage — all of which are from devout anonymous fans and not the band's entourage, I'm sure — rain down like hail. But I gave 'em another chance anyway, because it's what I do. The good news? Their music's more technically complex than when they first emerged. The bad news? It's still uninteresting commercial modern rock that doesn't realize it's passé.

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