This Little Underground

Too much mileage to cover this week for a cute intro, so let's jam.

The beat

In another truly memorable event organized by local shakers Pat Greene and Greg Leibowitz, acclaimed American guitarist Jack Rose (Sept. 13, Stardust Video and Coffee) was brought in for an arresting performance. As a true picker, he maximizes the expressive possibility of the acoustic instrument. Walk in blindfolded and you'd swear that two, maybe three, players were up there. Rose's language takes traditional folk music and finesses its rough edges until it's perfectly distilled grace. Few can illustrate the majesty of folk music as masterfully as he does.

And though it was ad hoc, the large room at Stardust turned out to be a surprisingly outstanding setting for this kind of act. More, please.

When I finally got the chance to taste the glory of Motörhead live at SXSW 2008, I was amazed by how punishingly loud they were outdoors. But after their recent Orlando blitzkrieg (Sept. 16, House of Blues), I know what it is to be caught in the same room with 'em, and it's like a sweet mallet to the dome! From what I witnessed, the two words most used in conversation at the show were "awesome" and "what?"

But both Lemmy and his wart kicked 100 percent ass. The band destroyed too, though a drum solo at a Motörhead show is completely unnecessary. Still, it was as serious a rock show as it gets, the kind that needs to happen here much more often.

On the road

From here on out, kids … field trip! This time to Seattle. Even on vacation, I'm always on the prowl for the good shit poppin' out there, and Seattle's about as hot a spot as there is. Here are my notes from the field.

The vast, pastoral psychedelia of Vancouver's Pink Mountaintops (Sept. 17, Crocodile Café) is one of the most perfect unions of our music canon's best elements. Sky-streaking melodies, heavy Mary Chain guitar groans and Wall of Sound scale all combine in a stunning tower of narcotic majesty.

With a lance forged from thrash and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Oakland's Saviours (Sept. 18, Comet Tavern) rode in, took over and made heads bang hard enough to make all the chiropractors in downtown Seattle rich. They occasionally play Orlando, so look for them.

Though they opened, rising stars Red Fang attracted the night's biggest contingent, either because they're from nearby Portland or simply because they're sure to be stoner rock's next gods. Hey, they played Orlando too this year, only a few short days after their completely dope debut album dropped. Y'know, the show that was meagerly attended even though we tipped you off about it in advance in Selections. (You picking up on the point here?)

And Monotonix (Sept. 19, Neumos)? Still the greatest live band on Earth. And they play here all the time, so no excuses next time.

Hanging out with industry insiders and longtime Seattle locals active in the scene, I picked up on something you may find interesting. Despite having earned status as one of the world's indie capitals, Seattle deals with self-doubt and insecurity too. Bottom line: They're just people who are trying hard to make their scene — and, by extension, the broader scene to which we're all tied — a bit better. That's something that should sound pretty simple, more than a little bit familiar and therefore encouraging.

There are some key things holding Orlando back, the preponderance of which are internal and within our power to change, but we're not as far away from something of real consequence as you may think. It's a smaller, more connected world than you realize. Like politics, all music is local. Trust me, those active in our city's scene are often only a few degrees of separation away from the people you worship.

But so many of you want it easy. It's never gonna be. Even for those who've reached the mountaintop, citizenship there is never automatic. It requires constant effort.

Point is, we're not the only ones in the trenches, so get over yourself and get to it. The only way to the Promised Land is a strong work ethic, a solid belief in yourself and strict quality control, all in fairly large but equal measures.

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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