This Little Underground

Bao Le-Huu takes on local retro-soul do-woppers the Sh-Booms, Orlando newbies Saskatchewan and your friendly neighborhood aggro band, No Qualms

This Little Underground
Zach Thompson

Correction: The original version of this column misidentified Elisa Victoria's management team. She is managed by local team Straight Shot Development. The column below reflects the correction. We regret the error.


That the indie scene has, in impressive numbers, graduated this year from basic Orlando Magic boosterism to general NBA fanaticism still astounds me. You should've seen how watching the Mavs (or insert any non-Heat team here) taking the championship made Will's Pub pop like a celebratory cork. That's deep.

But on to developments more musical in nature ...

The beat

Because of the investment of time and patience it involves, outside assistance with artist development is a sliver of what it used to be. That’s why I’m somewhat nonplussed by the recent showcase of native artists being nurtured by local artist development team Straight Shot Development (Jun. 5, Back Booth). I can understand laying chips down on Britt Daley. Besides confidence of presence, she at least has some legitimate vocal chops that flirt with the immaculateness of Enya and the acrobatics of Kate Bush. Her drama-draped fashionista electro-pop's not necessarily my thing, but there's some real foundation to work with at least.

But the wisdom behind Elisa Victoria is inscrutable. The negligible talent she displayed onstage with a shaky, karaoke-quality vocal performance hardly seems worth it. Yes, she had spunk, but that is the most basic of requisites for a wannabe pop star. I'm not into a pretty face as a premise for a music career, but if that's what you're going for, there are plenty of others further along the curve in terms of craft. Fresh-faced cuteness with malleable aspiration and at least nominal talent is not in short supply. That's why this one's a question mark. In order to develop this particular talent, you'd have to make something out of almost nothing. That's not artist development; it's alchemy.

Or you can just take artist development into your own hands like Orlando retro- soul group the Sh-Booms, who made quite the debut splash that same night (Will's Pub). Looking and living the part, they take doo-wop and soul-pop back to the grand showmanship days of coordinated wardrobe and dance moves. With piano, sax and especially the powerhouse pipes of singer Emily Patterson, they render classic splendor in extravagant fullness. It's hard to get too hung up on a band's regressiveness when it hits all the sweet spots like they do. And with the currently burgeoning interest in the timeless purity of oldies pop, the Sh-Booms could be the city's next good party band. One thing that's clear is that they spent time honing themselves before stepping out. A little more ensemble finessing and they'll be well on their way to Steeze City.

Even though they're going for a notably ethereal thing, the dream pop of local newcomers Saskatchewan (June 9, Back Booth) is graced with dynamics, punctuation and volume. It drifts in Technicolor, suspended in a Beach House snow globe, but it's alive. Most importantly, their sumptuous melodies have real definition (especially with those crystalline guitar notes) and decidedly do not belong in the same class of vague bullshit spit up by the copycat class that sprouted in Animal Collective's wake.

Saskatchewan just began playing shows, but they've been gestating for quite a while. And this thorough incubation pays off in how finished they already sound. You have to respect musicians who actually do their homework and craft an idea first. That's a band that cares about what they do and cares about what they offer you for consumption.

Meanwhile, things were a little wilder on downtown's North edge with a very aggro lineup (Hoops). Of the several bands I managed to catch, the sheer force of Orlando powerviolence band No Qualms popped me in the face the hardest. Unleashing stunningly roaring hardcore that handles both pure onslaught and nasty groove with very impressive heft, they absolutely tore it up and made the whole place erupt in mayhem.

One tip for the Hoops management during shows like this: You see how these kids use those beer pitchers as personal mugs, right? So stock up on those fuckers. It'll make life so much easier for everyone. Other than that, keep up the good work of letting the right people book shows there.

Besides an always rousing display, probably the coolest part about the performance of Nebraska's Show is the Rainbow (June 10, Will's Pub) was that he name-dropped Brian Esser (Yip-Yip). Dope.

About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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