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This Little Underground: Will’s Pub reunion honors local history 

Plus, a glowing live review of Terry Bozzio

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JAMES DECHERT

Orlando music history has been on more display around here from all different sides lately than I can ever remember seeing. From the Obliterati reunion last month to the Firestone reunion two weeks ago, this town has been acting like it has a heritage and shit. Check you out, Orlando.

Next up is the anniversary for Will’s Pub, one of the city’s most beloved and authentic music-centric social clubs. This time every year, the pub always pops off with a string of special events. For this 19th anniversary, however, it’s an entire month of carousing and arousing. But, befitting the critical role Will’s has played in the city’s scene for two decades now, notable past local bands reunited to salute this institution of independent music by kicking off with a big two-night stand (Sept. 5-6) of Orlando rock history revival.

The vibe all weekend was every degree as warm and glowing as you’d expect from a scene reunion. The first night featured Peterbuilt, Dragbody, Destination: Daybreak and Backhand, and the second night History, Vostok, Resident Weirdo and Hurrah. I caught all but a couple, and everyone I saw delivered respectably.

History repeats: 50 photos from Hurrah, Resident Weirdo, Vostok and History

But more than any of the actual performances, the purest quintessence of a historical occasion like this was actually off to the side of the stage during Dragbody’s furious set, where a toddler daughter in headphones was marveling over her dad kicking total ass on stage. That sight right there may just inspire her to start a band someday.

Events like these are fun flashbacks, but to those interested in our scene progress, they’re a great way to measure ourselves. Orlando may not have the most established reputation for quality, but what the Will’s Pub reunion weekend has put on the official record is that – whether the outside world knows it or not – we’ve had some good taste for a long time now.

Resurrected: 40 photos from Peterbuilt, Dragbody, Destination Daybreak and Backhand

While we’re toasting to history, go ahead and commit to this weekend’s 60th anniversary party for legendary dive Wally’s (3 p.m Sunday, Sept. 14). Although not a celebration of Orlando music per se, it definitely celebrates local nightlife and will prominently feature music on an outdoor stage with Ben Prestage, Milka and Derek and the Slammers. Besides, there are very few places in town that have fueled musicians more. Viva Wally’s!

The Beat

Beyond a string of credits alongside people like Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Missing Persons and U.K., Terry Bozzio (Sept. 4, Plaza Live) has built a legacy of his own as a percussion pioneer. On his first North American solo drum performance, he rode into town on what’s billed as the “world’s largest tuned drum and percussion set.” Like an instrumental array from some H.R. Giger dream, this one-of-a-kind behemoth is more evocative and beautiful than most big-city urban art. It’s maybe the only solo kit out there that could break Neil Peart’s heart.

I am totally a song person. However, when a guy sports a gasp-drawing spread like this, songs are the furthest thing from both mind and criteria. But that’s practically what we got. Although everything was done on percussion, this performance wasn’t just an exercise in rhythm. Melodically full in composition and expression, it was actual music made by drums, with a general idea similar to steel drums, only pushed to its most extreme and maximalist conclusion.

While in the belly of his own beast, Bozzio showcased his singularly melodic drumming style in dynamic, centipeding displays, which at their height became a live, attacking drum and bass passage. Occasionally, he’d step out from behind the city of drums to perform atmospheric numbers with hand and finger work on a cajón or a Korg Wavedrum percussion synthesizer.

With a kind of deeply narrative percussion style not usually seen in Western music, Bozzio takes drums from the backing structure and pushes them and all their seldom imagined possibility to the fore to create music that’s unreliant on any other accompaniment to sing. Instead of a superficially dazzling series of drum fireworks, his thoroughly musical performance is more of an immersively crafted thing that draws you in and transports you. It’s a transfixing live experience, deluxe with concept and wonder.

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