FANNYPACK, SPORTS REFERENCE AND TOURIST SEASON, THE FALCON, JAN. 27
It was a night of decent but literal acts. Although occasionally brawnier with the rock, Gainesville's Sports Reference were by-the-numbers classic emo. And solo local act Tourist Season – perhaps the most apropos name for an Orlando act ever – was straightforward folk-punk.
But the highlight of the night, FannyPack, came as a total curve ball. To refresh memories, FannyPack were a New York City party-rap act that struck a little lightning early this millennium with the comical throwback bass jam "Cameltoe." It was an underground smash way back in 2003 that I totally dug, so imagine how my eyes popped to see the name on a bill here in 2018 buried among a Central Florida roster. Ha, well, it seems that despite the same exact distinctive moniker stylized in the same exact distinctive way, this FannyPack is not that one. Needless to say, it was a bummer realization. You don't even know.
This FannyPack are a Daytona Beach rock band that's probably too young to even know who the OG FannyPack were. As it turns out, though, they've got their own thing entirely, and it's on the pulse. I try not to overextend the words "girl" or "female" as a descriptor, but they call themselves a girl band (even with a new male drummer) and it's with purpose and pride.
Without question, their punk-hopped jams were full of heart and fun. But under it all, propelling everything from their music to their bearing, was a bursting sense of empowerment and optimism, one that is unmistakably now. And there's no more crystal-clear embodiment of that than their iconic singer Martha Lawrence, who is a natural performer and a powerful presence. Pop-punk didn't ask for it but it needed one, and now it's got its own Sinéad O'Connor (a comparison not made lightly and one that goes far beyond just the shaved head).
In not just my own head but in the fever of the entire room, it was clear: FannyPack were the ones who brought the buzz. And what this Orlando debut proved is that this band is a potential star that deserves to shoot.
See what the fuss is all about for yourselves when they return to the Falcon on Feb. 16 alongside excellent Tampa band DieAlps!, probably the most exciting prospect right now on New Granada Records.
ZIGTEBRA, VOLCANIST AND DEAREST, IRON COW, JAN. 25
Last week in my first peek inside the big new Milk District venue Iron Cow, I mistakenly noted that it's a beer bar. In actuality, it's full-ass liquor. So, go nuts, y'all.
The draw was yet another showcase by Ugly Orange promoter Nicole Dvorak, this time headlined by Chicago's Zigtebra, an act that just came off a campaign to make a new song and accompanying video for every month of 2017. Musically, the duo of Emily Rose and Joe Zeph play lo-fi synth-pop shaped as much by economy as it is dance. At their best, they're something like an earthlier, more garage Grimes. Even with a simplistic setup and ethos, they perform with a sense of wonder that's contagious, likable and utterly pure. What their basic electronic pop does show, though, is how secondary things like production and hardware are when you got the songs.
Also on the night's bill was Volcanist, an ambitious homegrown group that's been bubbling up in the local scene lately. As a band augmented by live electronics, the trio venture further out to craft a signature vocabulary informed equally by silvery, futuristic soul and indie rock. It's a sound of dynamic balance – smooth but complex, clean but oblique. Even if it doesn't always stick the landing and can sometimes play a little outlandish, one thing it doesn't do is settle for ordinary.
Opening the evening was local solo act Dearest, who impressed opening up for Perfume Genius back in October. When it comes to loop acts, this guitar project by Tracy Farah – now with keyboard added to the repertoire – is one of the most elegant, crafting post-rock that's diaphanous but sculpted enough to be real songs instead of just wallpaper impressionism.