Reinstated Afghan Whigs still hot and heavy, Har Mar Superstar now more super than har har

by

THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Afghan Whigs and Har Mar Superstar, Aug. 6, The Social
The Afghan Whigs at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • The Afghan Whigs at the Social
A true cult band by definition and following, the Afghan Whigs, under the spell of dark-rock duke Greg Dulli, are one of the few acts that can lay claim to their own, nearly exclusive, realm. Now, the deeply influential ‘90s indie-rock group are reactivated and two albums into their creative revival. Though perhaps not prime, the new work is substantive. Just listen to the rumble and torque of “Arabian Heights” on this year’s In Spades, which rocketed their set right out of the gate with force and command.

Solid work from an exceptional band is still good by any metric.
The Afghan Whigs at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • The Afghan Whigs at the Social
But for all the retooling they’ve done to their sound in the studio, this live performance was a roaring, virile beast that kept it hot and heavy for an impressive opening stretch. Regardless of what age might suggest, the Whigs gave no hint this night of a band – or singer – in twilight. Their sound was thick and carnal as ever, and Dulli’s soul howl can still cut and rage with maximum style.
The Afghan Whigs at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • The Afghan Whigs at the Social
The Afghan Whigs at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • The Afghan Whigs at the Social
In the more intimate moments, Dulli got historical. He reminisced about the last show he played in this room all the way back in 2004 and gave homage to recently passed band guitarist Dave Rosser by leaving an unmanned microphone with his hat hung on it during a dedicated song (“Can Rova”). It would’ve been a poignant and moving gesture for anyone, but especially so for a man hard-boiled enough to threaten to personally eject anyone guilty of flash photography.
Har Mar Superstar at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Har Mar Superstar at the Social
On the first night of a two-month tour run with the Afghan Whigs was quasi-novelty opener Har Mar Superstar. Back in the early 2000s when I first and last saw it, this solo stage show of Sean Tillmann’s was far more persona than performance and seemed like some sort of ironic stunt. Now, the crooner comes winged by a lush five-piece band, which is just as notable a fact for its size as for its relative earnestness.
Har Mar Superstar at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Har Mar Superstar at the Social
With gimmick replaced largely by straight, old-fashioned and deluxe instrumentation (flush with even horns and keys), the truth and shine of his silky soul singing was pretty irrefutable. The show was still a classic party with a golden R&B glow, just one without too much campy distraction. But, fortunately, you can’t keep good showmanship down. And he eventually uncorked some of his iconoclastic charisma to climb up on the bar to belt it out, order a shot without missing a beat and wind up shirtless.
Har Mar Superstar at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Har Mar Superstar at the Social
Har Mar Superstar at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Har Mar Superstar at the Social
It doesn’t get any more now than Har Mar Superstar’s purely earned and democratic ideal of fab.
Har Mar Superstar at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Har Mar Superstar at the Social
Har Mar Superstar at the Social - MICHAEL LOTHROP
  • Michael Lothrop
  • Har Mar Superstar at the Social
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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene.

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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com





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