Music » Music Stories & Interviews


by and


In years past, there have appeared in the pages of Orlando Weekly some criticisms of the lineups for the Florida Music Festival. With the city's multiple thriving underground scenes — indie, punk, hip-hop, for starters — the bands chosen tended to strike us as, at best, unrepresentative of the vibrant diversity. Last year, however, a change took place at the festival, with the fourth-rate alt-rock opportunists of years past giving way to adventurous bands; and it was the "indie" shows that were some of FMF '06's most successful, achieving maximum capacity and generating considerable buzz among the out-of-town "professionals" the organizers so painstakingly court.

This year's lineup proves that the FMF crew took notice of the improvements. While a few nits could be picked among this year's showcasing artists — Cori Yarckin? Again? — we can assure you that there's a fine representation of Central Florida talent out there. In fact, there are so many good bands on the schedule that we've created a handy-dandy guide to the "must-see" and "should-see" acts treading the boards. And, as we've said in the past, any event that involves three days and dozens of bands is an event worth partaking of. So tear out these pages, steel your liver and enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, May 17

Joon Back in the '80s, copious amounts of South American cocaine made their way through Lakeland on a circuitous route to Miami. Whether or not that has anything to do with the astonishing number of psychedelic and space-rock bands that come from there, we're not sure. But Joon holds up the tradition well, blending futuristic, electronic touches and shoegazey guitar washes with an epic trippiness. (8 p.m. at Suite B)

Papercranes They've recently signed to a management deal with Orlando-based Fighting, so we can now — at least partially — refer to Gainesville's Papercranes as one of our own. Though blessed with a touch of star power — Rain Phoenix is the founder of the group, and folks from Jack Johnson to members of the Chili Peppers have helped out at times — it's the rustic and warmly enveloping sound of the group that's the real draw. (8:30 p.m. at Back Booth)

A Slight Breeze Despite the generally gentle, twilit mood created by this St. Augustine band, their celestial music knows how to employ the crushing dynamics of Mono, particularly late in their songs. With this nearly instrumental act, what begins with the intimacy of a close-up often ends up as a towering tidal wave of sonic magnificence. (9:30 p.m. at Cafe Annie)

Leslie Falling somewhere between the Datsuns and Jet, this rock trio from Charleston, S.C., pumps the kind of denim-and-hair American music that proves eternally virile. Hard-edged, blues-tipped and touched with the sweltering soul of the South, this is pure butt-struttin' rock & roll. These young guns are taking a break from writing songs for their upcoming full-length with members of Kings of Leon and the Mooney Suzuki to light up this year's festival. (10:30 p.m. at Back Booth)

Auto!Automatic!! Fidgety and furious, the angular math-rock of Tampa's Auto! Automatic!! makes us smile every time they play. Rather than taking a studious, furrowed-brow approach to their tempo-changing maelstrom, this trio joyously attacks their instruments in a way that makes you want to dance — or just spaz out. (10:30 p.m. at Cafe Annie)

Holidaysburg Being far less concerned with fashion than other young twangsters has these no-bullshit locals relegated to underdog status on the city's y'allternative scene. Maybe it's their lower irony quotient, or maybe it's the soulful muscle of singer Rob Weddle's turbo-charged voice, but they're unquestionably one of the best country-rock outfits in these parts. Nothin' fancy, just heartfelt, straightforward and tuneful. (11 p.m. at Tanqueray's)

Mike Dunn & the Kings of New England Now that the indie ethos has taken over Orlando, musicians in skinny jeans are clambering over each other in the quest for obliqueness. What's so nourishing about Dunn's drawled American rock, however, is that it aims unapologetically for that huge, ringing anthem. And his rare instinct for heart-swelling melody makes it fly true. Among their peers, this band's wide, interstate sound is one of the few that's likely to go somewhere. (11 p.m. at Wall St. Plaza)

Flogging Molly Duh. (midnight at Wall St. Plaza)

Also worth seeing

Protagonist (8 p.m. at AKA Lounge)

Thread of Hope (10 p.m. at AKA Lounge)

Terri Binion (9:30 p.m. at Vintage)

Matt Butcher (10 p.m. at CityArts Factory)

Friday, May 18

The Dark Romantics Since New Roman Times decamped for Texas, it's up to Lakeland's Dark Romantics to be Central Florida's stylishly atmospheric/married-couple indie-rock group. Considerable buzz followed the February release of their latest album, Some Midnight Kissin', so it looks as if they're up to the task. (10 p.m. at Back Booth)

The Wynn Brothers Band It's really no wonder that this local family affair has struck a chord and amassed a healthy regional following. They simply radiate the Florida context. The heat, the humidity, the swamp — it all makes sense when you hear them play. Though thoroughly classicist in approach, they cull much of what's good about the South in a youthful way. A bit of dirt, a lot of soul and neighborly through and through. (midnight at Wall St. Plaza)

The Sugar Oaks Sadly, this Orlando group seems to get more love from Tampa than they do here, a situation that means the Sugar Oaks don't play in town nearly as much as we wish they did. But when they do — whether opening for groups like the Hold Steady and Centro-Matic or sharing the stage with like-minded locals — their singular take on low-key, organic pop reminds us not to take a good thing for granted. This late-night headlining slot is well-deserved. (1 a.m. at Back Booth)

The Legendary J.C.'s What can we say about the J.C.'s that we haven't said hundreds of times before? The alchemy of bar-band funk and sincere soulfulness they've achieved is thick with integrity and, oddly, something of a guilty pleasure. Maybe we're given pause by the knowledge that these guys are as at home on a well-paying conventioneers' stage as they are in a tiny, sweaty rock club. Who knows? But the J.C.'s couldn't care less; their rollicking R&B simply owns whatever venue is smart enough to put it out there. (1 a.m. at Wall St. Plaza)

Also worth seeing

Velveteen Pink (9 p.m. at Back Booth)

The Queues (8:30 p.m. at Cafe Annie)

With Hatchet, Pike & Gun (9:30 p.m. at Central Station)

Gasoline Heart (midnight at Back Booth)

Saturday, May 19

S.K.I.P. Hip-hop gets stuck in the ghetto at this year's FMF; the two best local hip-hop acts are stuck showcasing between films in the early evening hours. Orlando's beats-and-rhymes scene, though still nascent, has blossomed over the last couple of years, which makes it a shame that it's so sparsely represented at FMF '07. Thankfully, S.K.I.P. — one of the exceptional talents on the Nonsense Records roster — is a phenomenally skilled and forward-looking representative. (7 p.m. at CityArts Factory)

The Julius Airwave This always-charming indie-pop troupe from Jacksonville is a talent that's been brewing for quite some time. Here's hoping that the recent release of their excellent full-length, The City the Forest, will precipitate the wider attention they deserve. Flushed with the purest of melodies and robust production, The City nails the majestic, romantic pop sound that legions of New York City bands dream of. (8 p.m. at the Social)

No Circus They're young and completely derivative but they will rock your ass. Just like Miami babyfaces Radio did the past two years, these classic rock—bred teenagers from DeLand will stun unwitting viewers with their ability. Expect the festival's hottest guitar display to come from frontman James Killgallon. Watching the verve with which they attack rock & roll onstage will remind you why you fell in love with it in the first place. (8:30 p.m. at the Lodge Backlot)

Derek Lyn Plastic The fact that this act is one of only two bands from the Floridas Dying punk rock family to play the festival is reason enough to see them. But the high-wire daftness of their punk-wave now sports serious octane thanks to recent additions to their lineup, particularly on guitar. This will be one of the festival's most refreshingly raw performances. (8:30 p.m. at Back Booth)

Spacebar Sonically dense and infinitely poppy, Spacebar should be the biggest band in Orlando. Their use of gauzy, multitracked guitars should appeal to votaries in the church of Kevin Shields, while their devastating facility with soaring, catchy choruses should appeal to … well, everyone. Alas, despite several years of trying, they've yet to completely break through. (10 p.m. at the Social)

Kingsbury Much fuss is correctly made about the studio prowess of Kingsbury's Bruce Reed, but the full group is an effective and dynamic live presence as well. While their soft-spoken stage presence and delicate sonic moods mean that Kingsbury shows aren't exactly fist-pumping affairs, the dramatic journeys they travel with listeners on their recordings are even more powerful in a concert environment. (10 p.m. at Suite B)

Christina Wagner Through a semi-regular series of arresting performances in town, Wagner has gradually amassed more of a draw than in her hometown of Jacksonville. Pairing a whiskeyed sensibility with a smoky voice that echoes some of the female jazz greats, this songbird pushes her acoustic act far beyond coffeehouse banality and into Spanish and country music territory. Look for her to prove once again that she owns the singer/songwriter category. (9 p.m. at Vintage)

K-G and the Band The question, "Why does Orlando have only one Afrobeat band and only one good soul band and why are they both headed up by the same guy?" can finally be put to rest. K-G and the Band, like the J.C.'s and Umöja, consists of skilled players backing up a charismatic frontman. In the case of K-G, however, you get a little Afrobeat and a little soul. The technical approach of the band undermines the loose vibe they're going for, and their reliance on midtempo grooves would likely have even Fela shouting, "Change it up already!" Still, it's heartening to see a two-band "scene" experiencing a 50 percent increase in size. (11 p.m. at Tanqueray's)

Danny Feedback Every year, musicians come to FMF with dreams of record deals dancing in their heads, and most of them are delusional. In such a commercially oriented setting, it's always rejuvenating to see the campaign of subversion that is Danny Feedback. Like a boil on the ass of the establishment, the only thing predictable about this noise-drenched, glammed-up punk act is hijinks and destruction. (11:30 p.m. at Back Booth)

Also worth seeing

Truckstop Coffee (7 p.m. at Wall St. Plaza)

Dear+Glorious Physician (8 p.m. at Suite B)

Medic (9 p.m. at Suite B)

Killer Robots (1 a.m. at CityArts Factory)

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.