This Little Underground

Reunited and it feels so goooood. 

Sup, my babies? It's great to be back in the saddle. You know I never like to leave you hanging, but I was up in the deep purple of Minneapolis for the 25th Anniversary Bash for noise-rock institution Amphetamine Reptile Records, which – whoo! – was one brain-blasting sonic onslaught. Just as cool, though, was being at a significant yet familial event where demigods like Jon Spencer, Mudhoney's Mark Arm and King Buzzo – who are most definitely not like everyone else – were actually hanging out and listening to music over beers just like everyone else. Oh, and Hammerhead, Vaz, Jet Legs and Boss Hog kicked the most ass.


The beat


Speaking of big anniversaries, Orlando nightlife beacon Will's Pub celebrated its 15th all last week with a chain of dope shows running the stylistic and generational gamut from Telethon to Junior Bruce to Jim O'Rourke. Few places in the greater metro illustrate the past, present and future of the area's music scene in such a living, evergreen way. And there were a ton of good performances, but none would've been possible were it not for the place they were playing in. 

Y'see, Will's Pub is a scene cornerstone par excellence because, unlike most of the other top-tier music venues in the city, it's actually a community gathering place with real personality. It's that rare and infinitely valuable combination of neighborhood dive, gritty local culture and edgy musical foundation. I've been to bars all over the world and that combination is not only special, but more difficult to achieve than you can ever imagine. Hang around any bar long enough and you can lose your soul. But at this one, you might actually find one.

Like it or not, claiming Orlando has historically been an act of courage. But Will's has never shied from it, setting an example of local pride that a sizeable portion of us has only started to follow in recent years. In a transient city that struggles to realize its sense of history, Will's Pub is the quintessence of Orlandoan terroir

Another point of our city's subcultural validation is just down the block at Uncle Lou's, where I briefly broke away from the Will's Pub festivities to catch local sludge-core band Weeks (Sept. 1). Despite being comprised of only two instrumentalists and a singer, they have a mammoth sound. What makes them particularly effective is that they're one of those bands that understands that the only way to feel the full crush of their heaviness is to slow things down. And singer Josh Hood is the most explosive and physical local frontman I've seen in quite some time.

Also performing was local trio D & the Sluts, whose psychedelic surf-punk is a gutsy companion to the beach vibe currently poppin' off worldwide thanks in part to Florida indie rock. With real melody and soundcraft going on, they're much more than the raw fun of the average slop-punk band. Let's see more. 

As for Uncle Lou's: When some random non-scene drunk with a fanny pack can just wander in and commandeer the mic, mid-song, like someone did during D & the Sluts' set, and no one blinks (not even the band) then you've got a cool scene goin' on. Shit, dude even drew the most boisterous applause of the night. Lou's is not only a great ;incubator and testing ground for fringe bands, it's one of the few organic spots in town where local animals like underground music types and real street characters mix it up regardless of stripe – to often colorful results. Wanna walk on the wild side? Just ;do Mills Avenue.

The first time I saw Orlando boyfriend-girlfriend two-piece band Wilbur was last December at their clumsy primetime debut opening for the amazing Mr. Gnome. Sometime between then, and now at their recent record-release party (Sept. 3, Plaza Theatre), a real band happened. 

Through hard work and focus, what was a flimsy, half-formed thing has developed into a defined idea without losing any of the vernal, wide-eyed conviction that's at the heart of this band. Although they've come quite far, I think this is a band that's just beginning to find its legs. It'll be interesting to see what happens when they start running.

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