This Little Underground

When there's so much hot action just splayed out in front of you like there was in music this week, well, you prop up your porn leg and get to work, son.

The festivals

Not surprisingly, there were no recipe changes for the behemoth Florida Music Festival, which continues to adhere to its corporate industry track. But in these regime-changing times, it's an outlook whose relevance is shrinking fast. Still, these veterans run a very professional event.

In terms of breaking developments, however, the story of the week is the two new entries into the festival sweepstakes: Orange You Glad Fest and World's Gone Wiggly. Put on by the garage separatists at Floridas Dying, WGW was the smallest in scale and narrowest in palette but added a laudable fold to the mix by featuring interesting acts. Though more diverse, OYG also reflects the artier edges of the spectrum. Both were successful events.

Neither is the first music festival to run concurrently with FMF, but both showed enough organization, scope and ambition to be perennial alternatives and not just one-off contrarian events, especially OYG. And don't mistake this bottleneck for a pissing contest. In fact, OYG organizer Tierney Tough tells me that she'll likely be more mindful of the timing next year.

The truth is that there have been increasing indications of splintering in the past few years. The indie community has shown diminishing interest in playing FMF's big mainstream parade. Before, these acts played it because it was the only game in town for so long (Anti-Pop only got serious about local involvement last year); now it's not. The divergence in audience and ethos has finally hit critical mass.

So what's wrong with more than one festival happening at the same time, apart from there not being enough hours in the day to take it all in? Not a goddamned thing. The notion of everyone playing in the same sandbox and liking it is a naive one. Besides, this proliferation of festivals is less a marketplace rivalry than it is a more representative prism of Orlando's music culture. And it's about time. A single thing cannot represent everybody and everything. It's a condition that's unfair to expect and stupid to want. So it speaks to our scene's health that other tribes, instead of being marginalized and then just crying about it, have stepped up to the reckoning. Those who dared this year, I salute and encourage you.

How long have we tried to convince others that Orlando isn't a one-horse town? Well, what greater proof is there than many music festivals flourishing alongside one another? Ultimately, for all involved and regardless of taste, it has to be an issue of investment, ownership and identity.

In the end, despite its dorky thumbs-up name, OYG takes the blue ribbon this year, and that's not a Pabst reference. This festival shone brightest because of how well it highlighted local and regional quality, something it explicitly set out to do. It's a sustainable, context-specific mentality and it's the direction we need to move in if we're to become players of larger significance.

The beat

Even alongside compelling sets from imported acts like Wisconsin's Dead Luke (May 16, Crooked Bayou), it was vindicating to see how convincingly our own area acts represented. Most of the top moments were supplied by locals who brought their A-game, including the cosmic psycho-delia of Happy Valley (May 15, Peacock Room), the thrilling new noise of Northvia (May 16, Redlight Redlight) and the cathartic power of Hurrah (May 16, Redlight Redlight). Locals Spirit Bomb, who blend angelic melodies with post-hardcore volatility, are possibly the most exciting Orlando newcomers right now, and St. Augustine's Lighthouse Music — who deal in fierce, virtuosic experimentalism and travel around in a converted bio-diesel bus — have the stuff to be underground legends (May 15, Uncle Lou's). And former Jacksonville Beach native Astronautalis (May 17, Will's Pub) — who is changing the very face of hip-hop — was simply transcendental.

Cattle call

The label showcase/compilation release party for new collective Second Subject Recordings is already detailed several pages back (see Selections of the Week). But listen up, musicians: Label honcho Swamburger is not only accepting but welcoming demos from all music genres at the event. Bring it.

Lastly, time to nut up, Magic.

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