Two important local concert institutions just notched big anniversaries: live series Southern Fried Sunday (10 years) and show promoter Norsekorea (five years). Presenting countless hours of high times and great bands, they've worked good and hard to become two of the most respected names in the Orlando music scene, so big salutes to them both for all their scene enrichment.
Southern Fried Sunday's blowout celebration (Jan. 17, Will's Pub) met the occasion with sheer scale. What began as a scrappy little down-home gathering at the old Copper Rocket has, under the loving stewardship and supernova spirit of Jessica Pawli, graduated to a primetime cornerstone of the local scene, sometimes even spilling beyond the walls of its current base of operations at Will's Pub and taking over other venues and lots along the Mills Avenue strip during special editions. For its momentous 10th anniversary, SFS popped the cork by bringing a studded large-venue package deal (Reverend Horton Heat, Unknown Hinson, Nashville Pussy and the Red Elvises) to the most colorful neighborhood in the city for a crazy bargain ($10 advance, $15 door). That there is going big.
With the major headlining action happening on an outside stage in the Will's Pub parking lot, the scene was total festival atmosphere, only with a shitload more motorcycles and hot rods than your usual. And the music justified the rumble.
After some core lineup changes, Red Elvises frontman and guitarist Igor Yuzov rechristened the act Igor and the Red Elvises and built a new band that's now all ladies. Smart man. But the goofy-great showmanship that's made the Red Elvises such a stalwart party band? Still essentially the same, thankfully, with all the beloved show signatures (crowd-weaving conga line, drum solo, audience participation) still intact.
Once the almighty Nashville Pussy got on, gears switched fast from campy Russian levity to unapologetically lurid American pulp. But like the Red Elvises – and all the other members of this tour for that matter – nothing much changes in what they deliver live. And when it's a strapping set of ass-kicking, dick-swinging rock like this, that's a very good thing.
Also reliably solid was the Reverend Horton Heat. But the night's single most special treat was when this headliner played as the backing band for cult hero Unknown Hinson. Now that's a formidable setup worth triple the price of admission – if anything, just for the legendary guitar dream team of two outstanding leading men concentrated on one stage.
Amid all the hard-rocking national headliners, however, some of the highlights of the event were the quietest. One was local roots-rocker Mike Dunn doing a warm, chest-swelling acoustic cover of the Replacements' "Bastards of Young." The other was the Reverend Horton Heat himself praising local rockabilly trio the Wildtones onstage and then asking them offstage to tour with him.
Nothing sums up just how far and deep Southern Fried Sunday has woven itself into the Orlando cultural fabric quite like standing there in the thick of the large, rocking congregation gathered for the celebration. Despite the significantly expanded special-event scale, it still had that famous familial vibe. That's because, even more than a Horton Heat show, it was Southern Fried Sunday. That's why it's one of those truly great Orlando things. And this party was one for the ages.
Miami heavy vanguard band Torche and rising new Tampa murderers Meatwound are pillars that guarantee one of the most monstrous bills money can buy today (Jan. 22, Will's Pub). But in the guitar-dominated world of heavy music, this one was particularly interesting with the addition of Baltimore electronic gunner Jeff Carey. Like Author and Punisher's little gamer brother, he rips extreme digital noise with a weird-ass rig commanded by pads, boards and a joystick (at least a few nerds probably just wet their pants right now). It's the sound of cyborg warfare, and once his severe lighting array of all-white strobes and LEDs comes into play, it's a full-sensory assault. Seriously, it's insane. More visceral than musical, it's not gonna shake any butts, but it's a pretty undeniable live experience.