This Little Underground: Author & Punisher stuns with maximum hardware

This Little Underground: Author & Punisher stuns with maximum hardware
Photo by Jim Leatherman

I have a bit of a thing for horror. Always have. But there's an attendant camp that seems to follow it around like an unshakable toilet-paper streamer on the heel. Fuck that shit. I'm into true horror, so if it crosses into camp, it's just comedy to me. Thankfully, there was no goofy stuff at the recent concert headlined by San Diego's Author & Punisher (Nov. 10, Will's Pub), just pure, pitch-black fear.

Despite being a one-man production, Author & Punisher is total show. First, there's his instrumental arsenal. Many can claim music that's industrial, but perhaps only he can claim a rig that's industrial grade. Tristan Shone, A&P's architect and fabricator, is a real-life engineer specializing in robotics and automation, so his beautiful and exclusive performance setup looks more like something out of shop class than the band room.

But besides the darkly wondrous devices, the mechanics of their operation are themselves a unique sight. Seeing Shone play is more like watching a machinist in action than a rocker. And the music he forges with this hulking assemblage is industrial metal that's smothering, pounding and dystopian – a soundtrack to the end times. To complete the delivery, the stage was cast in starkly dynamic grayscale video and severe white lights.

The sum was a visually, sonically and physically astonishing experience. It moved like a factory, it sounded like war and it looked like the apocalypse. A true original, this is the kind of show that even deep followers of interesting music only encounter once in many years.

The opening set by Portland duo Muscle and Marrow was itself harrowing. While Author & Punisher assaults your senses, Muscle and Marrow's more atmospheric poltergeist doom drains your blood. Occasionally stabbed by shrieking terror, their music is a sonic fog of dread. Like Swans haunted by a hexed siren, it's legitimately gothic, and not in that Tampa kind of way.

The Beat

If you've been keeping up, you know about Central Florida breakout Flashlights. If not, look up these lovely fuzz-punks already. They're a band that's earned some national prominence on Hard Rock Records with last year's Frightened Rabbits-produced album Bummer Summer and they're a proud local standout.

Flashlights principal Terry Caudill, however, has proven a prolific enough writer to spill over into multiple credible side projects. Though they've gotten little attention so far, they reveal how surprisingly sustained of a wellspring for scruffy melodic perfection he is. I already gushed about Waxed when they made their live debut earlier this year at the Florida Music Festival. But another Caudill venture is Cat Hair, a bedroom project that's been recording and releasing for quite some time now, the latest being this summer's LP Heaven.

Underneath all the fuzz and noise, Caudill's always had a core of irrepressible pop aptitude, and Cat Hair showcases that melodic ability more plainly than any other vehicle yet with even some electronic dimension. His recent Cat Hair performance (Nov. 9, Olde 64) was only a vocal one with him basically doing his own karaoke, but the material is good and deserves exploration (

Although Orlando pop punk dignitaries Teen Agers were part of the night's bill, their segment was an entire bill in itself. In addition to their normal salvo of quality original songs, their super deluxe performance also packed in a Jawbreaker cover, a taste of Bad Accent (the part-German project involving them that debuted at the recent Foreign Dissent showcase) and a bonus Get Up Kids cover set that they recently worked up for the Fest with guest keyboardist Tierney Tough (the Pauses), totaling a show as fun and generous as it looks on paper.

No doubt some of it had to do with the birthday celebration of the guy who books the Monday live series at Olde 64 (Foundation Presents' Marshal Rones), but this show was a scene. And that up-close live pulse was great to see in this space again. The shows are free, so go see how the vibe stacks up to those legendary old Bar-BQ-Bar shows. All events listed on the Social's website.

About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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