Surf Curse spin-off acts light up downtown Orlando, plus Soundbar's major new upgrades

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Current Joys at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Current Joys at Soundbar
THIS LITTLE UNDERGROUND
Current Joys, Gap Girls and Sugarplum, Soundbar, Feb. 10

While the increasingly pointless Grammys were on, there were a bunch of young people out making real music culture in Orlando. Maybe everything’s going to be OK after all. The headlining reason was L.A.’s Current Joys, the solo vehicle for Surf Case’s Nicholas Rattigan. With this project, he explores more seasons of emotion and new depth of craft with indie rock that’s richly melodic, often in intriguing signature ways.
Current Joys at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Current Joys at Soundbar
Live, all that still holds. But there’s also something else, something reactive and extra. He and his band injected the songs with heightened spark and in-the-moment power. Rattigan himself is pure verve. Expressing in a breaking, overflowing way that always seems on the verge of bursting out of his body, he’s a nova of wrenching emotionality that beams blinding catharsis.
Current Joys at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Current Joys at Soundbar
Current Joys at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Current Joys at Soundbar
Current Joys at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Current Joys at Soundbar
In the band’s more charging moments, Rattigan’s energy spread like electricity, making the audience lose their shit with frequency. When a punk band gets people to mosh, crowd surf and stage dive, it’s worth its salt. When a pop act does, it’s magic.

Opening was Gap Girls, a name funny for both its pop-culture reference and the fact that it’s for a lone guy. That guy is Jacob Rubeck, Rattigan’s bandmate in Surf Curse. On his own, he too chases a different muse with dusky synth-pop that is pure 1980s redux.
Gap Girls at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gap Girls at Soundbar
Although his solo press-play-and-sing show is practically a self-karaoke act, Rubeck’s music, vocals and aura made for a remarkably gripping performance. Bathed in fog, reverb and drama, his whole air was a revivalist dream.
Gap Girls at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gap Girls at Soundbar
Musically, his synthetic landscapes dance in dark post-punk shade like a more electronic Black Marble. Live, the mystique comes to vivid life with Rubeck’s rich croon, true faith and captivating stage presence. With the charisma and command to match his total aesthetic commitment, the show was a surprising revelation.
Gap Girls at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gap Girls at Soundbar
Gap Girls at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gap Girls at Soundbar
Gap Girls at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gap Girls at Soundbar
Also playing were Sugarplum, a young Orlando band that’s been making the rounds of late. Their twee pop is a thing of soft step and gentle strum. Simple, sweet and without guile, it’s winsome yearning that floats by on a cloud of reverie. Even heartbreak sounds lovely on this wavelength.
Sugarplum at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Sugarplum at Soundbar
Sugarplum at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Sugarplum at Soundbar
Sugarplum at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Sugarplum at Soundbar
But just as noteworthy as anything that happened here this night were Soundbar’s fresh new looks. Though barely a year old, the club just underwent some new renovations, and they’re dramatic. There are improvements at the bars and some new murals, but the real game-changers are in the sights and sonics.
Gap Girls at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Gap Girls at Soundbar
Most notably, Soundbar’s stage is completely redone. Much deeper and with full width all the way over to the famous confessional booth, the amazingly large stage is at least double in area now. Moreover, there’s a new lighting array that’s reconfigured and dynamic in ways that really emphasize the stage happenings, which was at times pretty dazzling at this show. It now looks and feels like a much more prime stage than the one that’s been there even throughout the Backbooth years. Add in a new PA that sounds more balanced and you’ve gone one significantly upgraded concert experience.
Current Joys at Soundbar - JEN CRAY
  • Jen Cray
  • Current Joys at Soundbar
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Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com

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