- PHOTO BY ASHLEY BELANGER
The Stitches show lit up the local news and social media feeds (Sept. 10, Backbooth). Because of his lurid mythology, the Miami rapper came to town amid some buzzing anticipation. Between the unfiltered edge of his trap lyrics and the provocative conviction of extreme face tats that stretch his mouth into a wicked smile that’s half-Joker, half-Leatherface, there wasn’t one person there who didn’t hope to witness some sort of craziness. But that was expected to come from the stage, not the crowd. That script got flipped. We all expected some sort of fireworks, but I guarantee none but the perpetrators were expecting literal goddamned fireworks.
Before Stitches went on, someone thought it would be cute to set off some high-grade firecrackers into the crowd. I couldn’t tell if these were something like M-80s or whatever, but they sure weren’t ladyfingers. The burns on my arms from the hot flying pieces can attest to that. After a volley of big pops, the room immediately filled with smoke, the fire alarms signaled, the lights went up, the firefighters arrived and the show was called.
The good news is that I’ve only heard reports of minor injuries, and mine aren’t anything that some Neosporin won’t fix. Unfortunately, it was a juvenile act that was done with big-boy ammo, and that could’ve resulted in a lopsidedly serious outcome for what was basically a stupid, small and self-defeating stunt. This may not be to the degree of, nor connected to, all the other truly bad shit that’s been happening downtown lately, but it sure isn’t helping. Grow the fuck up, people.
Living up to their growing reputation as one of the truest, most traditional shoegaze bands alive, Whirr (Sept. 9, Backbooth) came to town riding a massive wave of sheer sound. Although I never got the chance to see them, I now have a very satisfying idea of what My Bloody Valentine sounds like live. Between all the luxurious volume and fuzz, this rock show was a magnificent, near-physical sonic experience.
The night’s surprise stunner was Lakeland’s Omri Loved Celadon. They’re an intriguing, if not always cohesive, composite of shoegaze, punk and noisy ’90s indie rock. What was unquestionably unified and concentrated about them, however, was their roaring volume. They seemed to have come out of nowhere, but they sure sound like a band that’s going somewhere.
For Latin freestyle music lovers, the Super Freestyle Explosion (Sept. 12, Amway Center) – a hall-of-fame parade including Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Shannon, Trinere, Debbie Deb, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, Nocera and Connie – was the end-all lineup. Like the recent Firestone reunion, this event cherry-picked a genre’s brightest, most definitive novas and loaded them onto one mega-bill.
The sobering fact about these kinds of shows – nostalgic reunions in the dance and pop genres – is that they’re never the apex of live performance. There’s only so much you can expect from aging track acts, and that little bit is exactly what most of the performers delivered.
But it did eventually lift off, beginning with Exposé. Though they, too, did a back-tracked performance, they have the heft of three singers who danced respectably with choreography.
Lisa Lisa followed with a decent, full performance. Her voice is still intact, which isn’t too surprising since she always had pro vocal chops, unlike many of her one-hit peers.
But Stevie B finally brought a full, legit production with a five-piece band that was way above the genre standard. There’s a reason why this Florida boy is called the King of Freestyle: He was always a tier above. In a genre dominated by disposable artists, he had true pop songwriting talent that was pure and astonishingly consistent. Thankfully, his completeness as an artist translates to this very day in his live performance.
Although this was a smaller arena show, the size of its spirit permeated even the staff of this most professional of venues (I’m looking at you, female usher rocking out on the rear upper section of Level 3). But maybe most telling was when Bob, my show buddy, said, “I haven’t seen you move this much to a show in years.”