This Little Underground

The latest incoming call on the red phone at the Rock & Roll Mansion announced the launch of the Gone & Records website ( More than just a one-stop shop for the forward-thinking, outlandish local label, though, it's a window into the wildly creative sector of Orlando's art underground, currently one of the most fertile corridors in the city's music scene. The site's essentially a whirring musical workshop of experimental, nearly outsider perspectives. When a label's owners include local musicians Matt Kamm (aka Tele V. Cheeseburger) and Sean Moore, you know it's gonna be some unorthodox stuff. To celebrate the launch, the charming and surprisingly cohesive five-track Tele V. Cheeseburger "Free-P" Him & Her Hymns is there for the clicking. Giddy-up!

The beat

This week brought the penultimate show for Dish (April 4, Back Booth), one of the top talents in DeLand's rich music scene. I've been tracking the brothers Aguilar for years now and seen them evolve from a seeming novelty to an original and cohesive force. They've made me such a believer that, frankly, I'm worried about the future of the project.

Y'see, percussionist Nathaniel is leaving the band while singer-guitarist Roberto is carrying on the torch, as he should since they've just released a strong nationally released album (Ma Raison de Vivre Ton Amour) that needs to be added to your collection today. Not to undersell Roberto's ability — the guy's sprouted some real depth — but Nathaniel's scrapyard virtuosity was a defining, absolutely essential part of Dish's sound. It was the aspect that kept the embers of critical interest warm while Roberto's expression was still finding its legs, which took some time.

They've already been working on several continuation options, including a similar bucket-style percussion replacement or possibly expanding the roster to a bigger band, which they've shown can work to magnificent effect in special past performances. But the magic as we know it is about to end, and the future is always uncertain. Proper goodbyes are a rare thing; that's why the final performance of the original duo at the Social April 15 (see sidebar, page 22) is a cultural imperative.

Despite some rather amusing e-mails they've sent me, local headliners Rogue-Fi aren't a bunch of goofs onstage. They mine the same danceable '80s landscape that scores of vulgar, tongue-in-cheek ironists have plundered, but there's earnestness and style in what they do. It ain't deep, baby, but at least it's not the self-conscious lameness of those flash-in-the-pan jokester acts. One could do worse.

The Black Lips (March 30, the Social) are overrated. There, I said it. Now, I didn't say bad; their gusto-over-style angle is one tasty piece of gum, only it's been fished out from under the sofa cushions with hair and sand all over it — in a good way. I'm all for 'em, really. An outsized sense of humor and mischief has made these garage gods into rock & roll folk heroes. As a remedy for the slickness, calculation and soullessness of contemporary music, their contextual worth cannot be overstated. Moreover, there's nothing more satisfyingly primal than just letting shit fly — ready or not — the way they do. But contrary to the gospel some wild-eyed followers spread, the Lips are not the Second Coming. As this show made very clear, these lads have a sure-shot instinct for melodies and know how to deliver them with vigor. Simple as that.

Something sucks about how widely accessible digital mixing technology is today. It's enabling a whole generation of pretenders to enjoy entire DJ careers with training wheels on. I could go on, but I'm gonna stop there before I start waving a cane and yelling at you kids to get off my goddamned lawn. Point is, this current drift is why the performance by turntable dynamo Kid Koala (March 31, the Social) was transcendental.

The Chinese-Canadian killer employed real vinyl, real turntables (three of 'em!!!) and no headphones. Any time you see that, kids, you're in the presence of a master. Distinguishing himself even further from the new-school wannabes, he projected across the back wall a live, up-close feed of his fleet-fingered hands working the decks, just so you could see what a total mack he is. Though I'd still put my money on our own DJ SPS in a face-off, few typify hard-earned old-school skills as brilliantly as Kid Koala.

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