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Photo by Michael Lothrop

Mikey Cortes emerges solo as Summer Spiders, Hey Mercedes and Pohgoh bring emo history to life with Microwave 

The bad news: TLU will be on break for the next issue. The good: It's because it'll be our mega annual Best of Orlando issue. So we'll all have plenty to argue about next week!


When it comes to street cred in this city, Mikey Cortes is one of the rare ones. More than just a good player, he's made consistently good decisions on where to apply his skills, building an impressive CV spangled with quality bands like the Attack, Overdale and the Spitvalves. And just to make the rest of us feel completely inadequate, the guy's also one of Orlando's most exciting party-starters as DJ Kittybat, an actual turntablist and not just some dude with a decent song selection.

If you know anything about the aforementioned bands, you know they're upbeat with big-hearted punk spirit. But Cortes' latest, fully solo project, Summer Spiders, is much more nuanced and possibly his most artistic work yet. His atmospheric and textured new debut EP ( is filled with contemplative guitar landscapes that sit at the intersection of post-rock and emo like a more halcyon Promise Ring. As befits a musical polymath, he played all the instruments himself and self-produced the recording. In fact, studio craft is Cortes' next horizon, and Summer Spiders is his vehicle for exploring that in his new home studio.

Cortes' recent solo set (Aug. 7, the Falcon) was really a Mikey Cortes show and not purely a Summer Spiders performance as billed, but it was nice to see this direct window into the man across Overdale material and even covers (like Superdrag and Neko Case). Unfortunately, he only played one Spiders song, the sole sung one. The rest of the material requires more than just him to do justice live. The music's still worth checking out, though, because it's a promising peek at more layers of a true music head. Things will only get more interesting around here the deeper he gets into it.

Hey Mercedes (Aug. 12, the Social) recently made a momentous stop here. Direct descendents of emo's true bloodline, the post-Braid Midwestern band are the latest to both reunite and do an album commemoration tour, theirs being for the 15th anniversary of their 2001 debut, Everynight Fire Works. It's the band's first tour since their 2005 dissolution and, proof they take both their craft and history seriously, there was no half-assing here. They came on like total pros with not even a hint of dust, just power and tune. They delivered the vintage goods with not just fidelity but verve.

Also historical is the revival of openers Pohgoh, which just happened in earnest last year after about 17 years of dormancy. They're a Tampa emo band (that's not really all that emo) with a little bit of heyday renown, including a 7-inch split with Braid. But today, the band's probably more widely notable for containing both owners of leading Tampa indie label and scene-makers New Granada (home to select regional bands like the Pauses, Coeds and Sunbears), Susie Richardson Ulrey and Keith Ulrey.

I didn't hear them back in the day and so only know them via their recordings. As decent as those are, however, live is where this band really come to life with a sonic girth that makes their heart-heavy prettiness really soar. It's sincere indie rock with no flash or fuss – just melody, ache and guitars. Yes, so perfectly '90s.

It was nice to finally be able to see Pohgoh perform. Even nicer was that I clearly wasn't the only one in attendance who knew them. Indie-rock history was in the house this night, and a good slice of it was Floridian.

But in all these golden rays of yore, let's not overlook support act Microwave, the current youngsters on the bill. The Atlanta band have the hallmarks of emo but they may just be a little too freewheeling and triumphant to be squarely pigeonholed there. There's certainly no crime in that, especially not when you're a robust indie-rock engine of punctuation and melody like they are.

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