Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Our music columnist steps into the wormhole of the Why Not Lounge

This Little Underground


Ra Ra Riot at The Social; Photo by James Dechert
  • Ra Ra Riot at The Social; Photo by James Dechert

I’m back! And so is autumn! Rainbows for everyone!

Tell me you’re going to watch the Fuse TV reality show with me about the super-dope Big Freedia, debuting tonight. If it delivers on its promise to give a justifiably bigger stage for New Orleans bounce music, then you will soon know how completely broke your twerk has been.

The Beat

To warm the engine back up, before the fall concert harvest gets real serious, I thought I’d start off with something new – make that, different. Ain’t nothing new about where I opened the week.

Because of its peculiar repute in the city, the longstanding Why Not Lounge is a place I’ve kind of seriously wanted to experience for years now. According to legend, the place – a living relic from the days of the hotel nightclub – is a colorful, self-contained dimension unto itself. Despite the older demographic, it’s widely rumored to be anything but tame.

But apart from natural curiosity, I haven’t had special reason to make the trip. It finally came, however, via an intriguing tip from a promoter friend at one of the area’s major venues. It seems we have a credentialed Elvis impersonator in our midst who’s featured every Monday at the club: Ted TorresRevisited tribute act ( Typically, this is not the kind of stuff I think is worthy of mention here. But, apparently, this local guy is ranked top five in the nation by the kind of folks who rank such things (actually, his placing was as recent as last year at the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest in Memphis, organized by the King’s very own estate and trust). So, what the hell, I went to see for myself (Sept. 23).

Our hometown boy here conjures the image of a younger Elvis (phew!) and his recent performance had much more to do with vocal fidelity and actual singing than just a bunch of goofy dad histrionics for the sake of a stage show (double phew!). And since he performs from roughly 8-11 p.m. – with three sets that seemed to chronologically span the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s – Torres goes impressively deep into the catalogue, beyond the tired classics.

All of which is good, notable and worth seeing for kicks. But the Why Not vibe is as much of a draw as anything that happened onstage. Indeed, the generational gap made for an unusual night out at da club, what with the canes, oxygen tanks, blue hair, biker vets and all. However, though I did see a gray panther clearly on the prowl, I don’t have any impressive stories of anyone hitting on me or anything. (Betcher ass I would’ve opened this column with that yarn if I did.)

But there was a local demi-celeb sighting of Central Florida News 13 woman-about-town Allison Walker totally holding court. And apparently, judging by her Elvis purse and particularly intimate interaction with the onstage talent, she has a huge Elvis jones. OK, so maybe shit did get a little Twilight Zone after all. At any rate, here’s the music scene score on the News 13 staff so far: Jackie Brockington’s nephew is in a grindcore band and Allison Walker’s boyfriend is a nationally ranked Elvis impersonator. Weirrrd.

But, beyond that, the beautiful thing that the Why Not affirms is that, thankfully, some people never forget how to party. And that’s worth saluting, so go on witcha bad self.

When they first broke, Syracuse orchestral pop band Ra Ra Riot quickly became the more classical, less grating little sibling to Vampire Weekend. But the keyboard-driven, floor-minded sound of both their latest album and performance (Sept. 26, the Social) indicates that they’ve traded the starch for some funk – as funky as white kids get anyway. Having shed the argyle for a little neon, their svelte and sophisticated dance-pop has widened their horizons considerably toward Phoenix aspirations. With a fully computerized live light show to go along with their active stage presence, they’ve quantum-leaped in terms of presentation and production. And what it all says about them is that they’ve learned to unbutton the top button and live a little more. As a result, their shows have way more girls dancing now. And girls always know.

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