This Little Underground: The outrageous Dwarves come up short

A couple months ago, I told you about the In-Between Series, the monthly music showcase at downtown's Gallery at Avalon Island that debuted at the top of this year. Only three shows in and it's probably the most interesting music series going in the city right now. The latest, "Film Speak" (March 16), furthered the art-forward event with a multimedia performance by local sonic adventurer Maximino and eminent analog visualist Joshua Rogers.

As one of the most active, visible and written-about musicians in Orlando's indie scene, Maximino's Gerald Perez needs little introduction. Although known in more underground corridors, Rogers often operates in the background, but he's a figure that deserves the spotlight as well. As the eyes and brains behind Broken Machine Films, he's one of the area's most notable music-minded film artists. Besides that, he also runs experimental label Illuminated Paths, which specializes in music that's fiercely niche (catching national attention on publications like The Fader as a leading vaporwave label) and assembled in handmade packaging that's lovingly and curiously personal. Lately, the label has also been embarking on the very worthy crusade of unearthing lost recordings of local subterranean names like Ray Brazen, Dr. Moonstien, D003Y D3C1MAL, Discovery of Magnetic North and Bleubird.

For the two-segment "Film Speak" experience, Rogers live-mixed projected visuals while Maximino live-scored them with a keyboard and pedal array. The first piece was a looping, abstract drone cloud while the second was a svelte, sense-triggering electro drive. Together, it was a surrounding performance of intersection and impressionism.

There's still plenty of room at the In-Between Series events, but the crowds are growing for the ever-evolving and ever-dynamic shows. Even at cursory glance, the modern and unconventional performances tend to slow down most passers-by outside in instant spells of curiosity. The most compelling reason to check out the still-free monthly is that this curiosity only deepens once you enter and see and hear the things happening inside up close. It's a cultured event for lovers of the art of music and a refreshing harbor of live performance beyond the typical bar or even auditorium scene.

The schedule continues to grow: August's feature will be psych-pop weirdos Moon Jelly and September may see another version of the talked-about "Body and Parts" performance by Attached Hands' Henry from last month. Stay looped at the In-Between Series Facebook page.

The Beat

Of the legendary players at the recent old-school punk show (March 21, Backbooth), Richie Ramone's set was a bit of big-name mediocrity and the Queers, though lock-tight, were unfortunately still the Queers. More exciting than either of their individual sets was when the Queers brought Richie back up for their finale to play "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker."

But I was there for the Dwarves. Their actual music hasn't been especially prime since the '90s and they haven't been truly dangerous since before that, but what they embody – the artistic provocation, the system-jolting mischief and, not even gonna lie, the wanton nudity – is something that doesn't just endear them to me personally but guarantees their seat in the rock & roll pantheon.

Although the Dwarves have settled into more of a pop-punk sound that's somewhat antithetical to their blood-guts-pussy doctrine, their live kick remains sonically raw and fitting. But about their famous shock factor: The only danger I've seen from bandleader Blag Dahlia is him sorta hitting on my girlfriend at the old Will's. Guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed – who tends to perform in a luchador mask and little else – has been the only band member certifying any of the shock in the times I've seen the Dwarves in this century. But either he was absent or he's gained a little weight and lost a lot of pizzazz. Absent that, the most shocking thing about this show was the absence of shock or even spectacle, which isn't exactly the right direction to go in terms of taking people by surprise. A decent straight-up rock show is never anything to turn your nose up at. But for a band whose legacy and currency is built on outrageousness as the Dwarves' is, it's just not enough.