This Little Underground

Bao Le-Huu takes on Sebadoh, Surf City, Jacuzzi Boys, Young Brother, Bare Wires and more

By the close of this month, Phat-N-Jazzy, one of the longest-running nights in Orlando club history, will cease to be a weekly Tuesday event. And I'm more than a little sad since I personally have a long history with it. Shit, I still have my cassette copy of Abstract Original, a hot-buttered DJ BMF mixtape I bought back when Barbarella hosted the night.

But big credit to the hosts for having some self-respect and not wanting to, as BMF put it, "relegate ourselves to becoming simply ‘ladies night' DJs." After the weekly run is done, they'll focus on special monthly events and shows to bring some concentration and prestige back to the brand. But until then, you have every Tuesday this month at the Social with a couple special events sprinkled in, like Phat-N-Jazzy: Original Flavor (April 19), featuring the DJs' favorite classic picks from the early years for the O.G. jazz-heads, and a live show featuring Brooklyn soul-funksters the Pimps of Joytime and hip-hop duo Backpack Jax (April 26). So go get fresh.

The beat

Because of the interminable lines at the packed-out Orlando Food Truck Bazaar (good for the city, bad for my temper), I only caught the latter half of the show by American indie-rock institution Sebadoh (March 29, the Social). But what I caught was rather good. If anything, it was nice to get a living glimpse of a time when pretty melodies and pure volume were prized for their synergistic alchemy.

Speaking of loud and lovely, New Zealand noise-pop act Surf City (April 1, Will's Pub) was a near-perfect union of the two. This is a band that knows how to work pop simplicity right: just jack it with tons of noisy octane and send it off into the stratosphere. They made one of 2010's best albums with their debut, Kudos, and they delivered it outstandingly live with a set that blustered like a sweet-toothed tornado.

Orlando may not yet realize what organizer Norse Korea Presents delivered on a silver platter with Surf City, but this was one of the year's most inspired bookings. Special, ahead-of-the-curve engagements like this are what Orlando needs more of to get to the next level. Deeper, not bigger, is where it's at.

Also coming correct this night was the Alberto Hernandez-fronted local band Young Brother. That this group became secondary to his other gig, the accomplished Viernes, wasn't a particularly regrettable fact. Their potential wasn't all that evident before Viernes took off. But from this set, it looks like they've crystallized into something much more distinctive. In addition to two drummers and more reverb, they now have a sharper, more current sound. All around, they're simply much more absorbing - enough, in fact, to finally matter. It's always good to see a band find their footing, especially when they're a bit of a surprise as Young Brother is. For a while, I wasn't sure this band had much to grow into, so nice turnaround.

Closing out was Miami's Jacuzzi Boys, whom I've covered liberally before but don't have the room this time. However, I will note how great it is that they've recently made the leap to Hardly Art, one of the country's premier indie labels. Cheers to their success.

From look to sound, Oakland, Calif.'s Bare Wires (March 31, Will's Pub) is a living, breathing, irony-free throwback. Their glam-punk merges the freewheeling garage wildness of the '60s with the luxe of the '70s. But instead of being a novelty, there's a real vigor and authenticity to what they do. These guys mean it. They're true believers and they kicked it out in grand old style.

With more sonic scope than the genre averages, local opener Sexcapades delivered a set of echoing, rock & roll-rooted party punk that ripped it up with a fiery spirit, classic tendencies and good guitars.

Unless they're particularly outstanding, I don't typically grade artist performances at benefits. However, I will note one thing: As musicians, making good music is all you really need to be doing. But weeks like the last - when the local music community rallied to provide aid for noble causes like native wildlife (Critter Crawl, April 3) and the family welfare of its own (Benefit for Harrison Snow, April 2) - are inspiring. Well done, people.


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