2018 was a year of not having time to catch your breath. But – from our perspective, at least – that was a good thing. It was a year of frantic change and evolution, of venues opening and closing, of some fantastic touring acts stopping in the City Beautiful for the first time, and of intriguing developments in the local scene. It was impossible to see all of it (still kicking myself for missing Hayley Kiyoko, the Flex and Dying Fetus), but it was possible to be floored at the very least once a month. Let's see what 2019 holds. But first, a quick look back ...
Ten Shows That Made Us Feel Alive This Year:SADIE, Stardust Video & Coffee, Jan. 7. Like a living generation gap, elementary-school-aged SADIE enthralled a full house with her monster-obsessed electro.
Pre-INC Orlando, Uncle Lou's, Feb. 5. In "big" cities, people would pay top dollar for such an esteemed gathering of experimental weirdos (including Gyna Bootleg, Bob Hatt, Woody); we paid approximately a fiver.
JPEGMafia, Will's Pub, Feb. 20. Still absolutely floored by this show, 10 months later. Sweaty avant-trap from a fiery MC who regurgitates the 21st century right in your face.
Poetry Opera Techno, Anime Fun Shop, May 6. Performance art stripped of pretension. The touring tandem of Maya Martinez, Jasmine Cindy and Marcyanne Hannemann read poetry, sang songs and performed a quick one-act play, aided by locals Lush Agave and J.A.S.O.N.
Pylon Reenactment Society, the Veranda Live, May 11. We like NYC and London post-punk legends as much as the next person, but we're even more enthralled by groups who had to make it up for themselves in out-of-the-way Southern towns. That's B-52s contemporaries Pylon in a nutshell; they can still bring it live.
Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit, Timucua Arts House, June 12. Akin to being punched in the face by jazz, this 12-piece Norwegian outfit deals in lethal, skronky swing and blew the doors off Timucua.
ID M Theft Able, the Dining Room, June 22. Maine-based experimental oddball played a house show on the way to a psych fest in Miami, and his mix of vocal improvisation and non-musical props was enthralling.
OhTwo, the Manes Emporium of Doubt, June 23. Fresh off an East Coast tour, this stylish and immediate new hip-hop duo positively made the floorboards shake during a homecoming house show.
Erasure, Dr. Phillips Center, July 8. The sound of pure liberation and love. This veteran British synth-pop duo packed out the Dr. Phil and serenaded a wild crowd with anthem after anthem amidst a Tron-esque stage set.
Pictureplane, Mother Juno, J.A.S.O.N., Ootheca, Will's Pub, Dec. 7. Take an EDM legend who hasn't played an Orlando show since the last Total Bummer fest, and pair him with three Orlando acts at the top of their respective games. Instant dancing.
Ten Shows We're Looking Forward to in Early 2019:Diana Ross, Dr. Phillips Center, Jan. 9 Noname, the Beacham, Jan. 17
Deicide, Soundbar, Feb. 1
Pre-INC Orlando, Uncle Lou's and Grumpy's, Feb. 4
Peter Murphy, Plaza Live, Feb. 7
Big Freedia, the Abbey, Feb. 8
John Maus, the Social, Feb. 15
Cold Cave, the Abbey, March 10
Mary Lattimore, Will's Pub, March 27
Ariana Grande, Amway Center, May 29
Five New Local Acts to Watch:Channel 83 – Solo project from a Problem Child alum; frantic, glitchy, Devo-collaging punk.
The Nightmare – Blown-out, leather-and-stud-encased, anti-everything d-beat punk. Impressive.
Sugarplum – Like a second coming of the best moments of the K Records catalog, these young, queer indie rockers are forging their own path
Alien Witch – Lou Reed and Alan Vega-influenced Joy Lane offshoot; no two sets are the same.
Watu Rhythm Band – Afrobeat mantras from Orlando scene fixture Eugene Snowden.
Local Albums You Should Spend Xmas Cash On:Von Nacht. Von Nacht. (self-released)
The Pauses. Unbuilding. (Arctic Rodeo)
Witchbender. Crush. (self-released)
Niko Is. Uniko. (Javoti Media)
Gouge Away. Burnt Sugar. (Deathwish Intl.)
Tiger Fawn. Adventures of Space Tom. (self-released)
Surprises of the Year:
Illuminated Paths releasing a Viper (he of "You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack" internet fame) cassette in April.Hearing an audience member complain huffily about "not wanting to hear liberal politics" as he indignantly walked out during Ministry's set in April.
Blackstar and Odd Jobs closing in June.
Drab Majesty opening for Deafheaven at the Social in July.
Tiger Fawn leaving Orlando in August.
Church of United Ministry (Cum Worship) opening in September with a busy events calendar.
Eugene Snowden getting his solo album crowdfunded in September.
One of the Ugly Ducklings wrestling faction jumping off the roof of Will's Pub on to his opponent during Mayhem on Mills.