This Little Underground: The Lacs and Moonshine Bandits @ Firestone Live

This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly’s music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city’s music scene. Read the latest column here.

click to enlarge Matt Butcher goes rock & roll
Matt Butcher goes rock & roll

I ask you to pop out of your comfort zone all the time so it's only fair I show you I'm capable of same. And a recent hick-hop showcase should prove how far I’m willing to go for this point.

I am a huge fan of both country and rap, but never the twain shall meet. In terms of style and aesthetics, there just hasn't been an example in history so far that’s merged the two cogently enough to suggest that there are any serious artistic possibilities there. If any of you freaks know better then, please, enlighten me. But even if respectable cases do exist, it’s still a zone overrun by total shit. That Justified theme song by Gangstagrass is all right, but I'm pretty sure I accept it because I'm into the show. Other than that though, this genre fusion is a wasteland.

However, those who chart those dubious waters typically promise, at the very least, a good goddamn party. So if I'm gonna go outside my orbit, then I'm gonna go all out and indulge the deep, dark corners of my curiosity. And I have seen a couple episodes of Buckwild, you know.

Enter the Country Gone Wild Tour (May 21, Firestone Live) headlined by the Lacs and Moonshine Bandits. Central California’s Moonshine Bandits are in many ways an abyss of taste, blending the most obvious lowbrow country clichés with dumb, basic rap.

Oh, and they have an Asian DJ who dares to go by the name Chopstiqs in front of a bunch of rednecks. Personally, I like a good Asian joke, but I don't like being one. And I don’t know what the Asian analogue to coonery is called, but somewhere Margaret Cho is cackling. Too bad because he's a good turntablist.

But stereotype perpetuation aside, Moonshine Bandits are decent showmen and party-starters. And, seriously, I've heard worse live performances from more reputable rap acts.

Just when I'm expecting the same essential thing from Georgia’s the Lacs, however, they emerge with a full five-piece band behind them. Like a Southern-bred Sublime, it’s not like they’re high art compared to Moonshine Bandits or anything. But they’re more musical and less purely reliant on swag, capturing at least more country and Southern rock in their show. And they gave a performance generous in both spirit and spirits (a big bottle of Jäger from their own onstage cooler was passed to the crowd).

Although I – like everyone – dig what I dig, I did walk away with a lesson that, though not forgotten, was good to be reminded of nevertheless. And that’s that indie audiences suck. Yes, by orientation of taste and philosophy, that’s my usual scene. But one of its worst qualities is the circumspect bloodlessness of the fans. In contrast, this show experience was refreshing because of the crowd, whose only rule was having unfiltered fun. So go on with your bad selves. As for stepping out of one’s box, your turn.

Read more This Little Underground:

Matt Butcher goes rock & roll

About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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