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This Little Underground 

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER GARCIA
  • Christopher Garcia

The term "show" has become synonymous with basically any recital. But there's a difference between that and putting on a real show, and I salute anyone who puts forth the effort. Even though the scale was modest and the aesthetic completely DIY, the latest showcase by Orlando iconoclast Timothy Murray (June 26, Uncle Lou's) was more than just a basic night of live music. It was an actual production with furnishings, two projection screens and out-there experimental music.

Opening was a solo project of the ever-eccentric John Contos, called the Late John Contos, that was basically some kind of weird-wave wherein he played some post-punk bass lines atop noise-rimmed backing jams. And that's probably as much sense as I'm able to make of that.

Headlining was Auto Chlor, Murray's revived solo project. Per his usual, it was a high-concept thing whose concept is either wildly elusive or wildly obscure. In other words, only he fully knows what's going on. And I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on that one. Musically, it was a psychotropic hash of electronics and noise overlaid with fairly sophisticated late-night grooves. Visually, Murray's known for his outlandish wardrobe, and this time he wore some tinsel-and-sequin nightmare. In sum, it was the audiovisual translation of an altered state.

But sandwiched between those two bizarro slices of bread was pure, gooey cheeze in the form of Ralph and Gina Pacino, an act where Jasper Bleu (Alias Punch) and Bethany Avello (The Moon Is a Disco Ball) play an old, married lounge-lizard couple. Like a Mark and Lorna sendup for the young set, their musical journey through the decades was knowingly corny as fuck but their wobbly delivery made it strangely charming. It's actually more of an amateur comedy routine than a real musical one. (His keyboard wasn't even plugged in, and there was a laptop involved.) But that doesn't matter when you see them rock out and freestyle only to realize they're lost in the song and have to clamber out of it. The ensuing improv is the live part of this act, and it can be pretty funny.

I'm doing my best here, but this event is the kind of affair that must be seen to be believed. That's what a true show is. When the Pacinos are belting out the old Gershwin jazz duet standard "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" while a vigorous and graphic sex scene from Pink Flamingos is raging on the screen behind them, well, you can't write it that perfectly. This is underground misfit theater par excellence.

The beat

The latest event to seize upon the walkable Mills Avenue infrastructure was Monster Nature's Peacock Willy's Hump Day (June 27), a portmanteau for the two-venue event. (Peacock Room and Will's Pub, geddit?) The well-curated event showed the continuing progress of some top local bands. The incisive and elegant dream-pop of Saskatchewan is gaining definition, and the majestic symphonic twang of Roadkill Ghost Choir remains unbelievably mature for such young dudes.

A standout among the several non-native acts featured was Maryland's Dirty Names, who are rock & roll purists to a throwback degree – nothing past the '70s, thank you very much. But that also means they pack tons of flair and swag. Although they paint squarely inside traditional lines, they do it with bright, splashy color and lots of soul. And they pour it all out onstage.

Pacesetting heavy music promoter 90 Proof Productions managed to bring outstanding Boston stoner doom band Elder here for the first time (June 24, Peacock Room). Many heavy bands this melodically ambitious run the risk of compromising their balls. Not Elder. Not in the least. Instead, their astoundingly dimensional 10-ton odysseys roll over a room like towering clouds of reefer smoke in a slow-mo tumble. All fuzz and tonnage, man.

Changing frontmen is a seismic thing, and it's what local opener Fire in the Cave recently did. First, it's not easy to step into the raging blast chamber of FITC's sound and make a dent, period. Furthermore, the physicality and roar of original singer Jared Oates leaves big lungs to fill. But after seeing them twice with new growler Josh Mazorra (of Infinite Earths), it turns out he can bring just as much thunder and wildness to the floor while their complex metal continues to unfold.


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