This Little Underground

takes on Danny Feedback's Crack Rock Opera, Helms Alee, Big Business and Glitch Mob

I honestly wasn’t sure how Danny

Feedback’s Crack Rock Opera (July 16, Theatre Downtown) would turn out. I was intrigued by the idea of the musical stage production by Orlando shock-rocker Danny Feedback, enough to write the story on it, but I’ll admit to skepticism. Although a bit too long, with two bands before the main event and comedy between acts, it was ambitious.

Besides local comedian Sal Minelli singling me out and serenading me with a perversion of a Nat King Cole classic that effectively called me “Unfuckable,” what else happened? Well, Orlando openers Room Full of Strangers were surprising. The band has always been a bit of a mystery, and not always in a cogent way. But taking full advantage of the situation and upping their theatrical component even more, they delivered their most convincing performance yet, incorporating more skits and bigger production. Their histrionics, which sometimes translate awkwardly in the traditional concert setting, were given much fuller flight and just made more sense in this milieu.

The Crack Rock Opera itself opened with the broadcast of a funny, real-life news report about jenkem, an outrageous drug made from human waste that wormed its way into the media despite being a possible hoax. Butt hash! Awesome! Interestingly, the report was from Florida … and aired on Fox News. Of course. The subversive performance that followed was like a DIY Rocky Horror Picture Show with better music, resulting in gutter musical theater worthy of the Fringe Festival. They may know a facet of the stage, but musicians translating to theater is a tall order. However, with perform-ances from surrounding cast Evan Shafran, Jeff Nowlin and Jim Ivy that bested even the lead, Crack Rock Opera ended up one of the most interesting cross-media endeavors I’ve ever seen spring from the Orlando rock scene.


The bill of Torche, Big Business and Helms Alee (July 13, the Social) was so concentrated and mighty that I actually dipped out of the big OW Best of Orlando party early to catch it. Then again, I’d leave my own mama’s wake for Big Business. So, worth it.

I’ve been waiting to see what Seattle’s Helms Alee is made of in person since their amazing 2008 debut (Night Terror). Turns out, this trio can drop one mean, cathartic stone. Not many heavy rockers are capable of such roaring, soaring beauty. And Florida-born Torche, with their sky-streaking jumbo-jet pop, have been blossoming for a while now.

As for Big Business? Well, they didn’t so much play the club as they did cleave it in half like a homicidal lumberjack. Although they’re a quartet now, they’re playing this tour as a trio due to Toshi Kasai’s studio obligations. But this particular trio (with newest guitarist Scott Martin of 400 Blows and Crom), with this particular material, was a completely different beast than the last time they were a three-piece. And that’s a good thing, because that was a misstep. But now, they’re back on the edge of the knife. All murder, no wankery. With bludgeoning pace, riffs like cliffs and face-clawing vocals, there’s nothing like that nasty midrange bellow that they pack. Nothing. It’ll skin you from head to toe. And their grisly return-to-form EP (Quadruple Single) drops next week – prepare yourself. All told, it was as holy a trinity of heavy rock as it gets.

My Glitch Mob experience (July 14, the Beacham) did not start well. The draining of my chi began in line where I was surrounded by a gang of tools-in-training who make Jersey Shore look cosmopolitan and whose use of the words “rage” and “sick” exceeds all reason and intelligence. Shut … up. Then, inside, I was accosted by a ridiculous per-capita ratio of party photographers. I do not want my picture taken and, no, I am not Steve Aoki.

Thankfully, the Glitch Mob’s actual performance was a royal, Tron-esque spectacle with dazzling lights that punched their chunky electronic minimalism into impressive hyperreality. The most rewarding thing for the paying public is that everything about their performance is designed for show, an aspect far too often neglected by electronic acts. Even the swank touchpads they played were tilted forward so the audience could actually see what they’re doing live. And it all culminated in a technological orgy for the eyes.


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