Albeit a tiny and informal one, Lil’ Indies has quietly become more of a live music speakeasy. Don’t sweat, seekers of fine drink and quiet ambience, these shows have been stripped down and are mostly free. But I knew it was gonna happen. As the kid sister to Will’s Pub, it’s in the blood. Not surprisingly, I’m for it. It’s typically local music, but pay attention to the calendar because quality imported talent can often be found here.
The most notable recent example was a country and folk bill headlined by Matt Woods (April 19). In his tow were Gainesville’s Devon Stuart and Michael Claytor. Stuart has a nice, stout and pure country voice, while Claytor has a gentler style but nice picking technique. Besides solo sets, the two performed their joint material as Adult Boys Thunderband. Their lighthearted jamboree vibe leaned a little heavily on honky schtick for my speed, focusing more on style and humor over soul. Still, it was fun.
But for his quality, heart and deep Florida ties, Tennessee country singer-songwriter Woods is always worth the time. How can you not love an out-of-stater whose best anthem is titled “Port St. Lucie”? And as is typical of alt-country shows, the featured artists frequently collaborated, even squeezing in local drummer and Woods collaborator Larry Fulford. It’s the kind of close, lively show that underscores how cozy a music spot Indies has become.
You had to figure that the juiced new album by Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow (April 15, Will’s Pub) would translate in person. But even that doesn’t quite prepare you. Live, their pretty melodies are wrapped in big, chewy sonics that envelop the body like a warm, fuzzy, really loud sweater. With the rush of this newfound gale-force euphoria, they’re clearly moving past the fizz-pop and gunning for the wuthering mountaintop heights of the shoegazers and noise jockeys.
As for Seattle headliner Cave Singers, their recently dulling edge is concerning. In their newly expanded sound, they’ve surrendered their best qualities for some, gulp, hippie jam. Up until this latest album (Naomi), they’ve proven excellent at cutting close to the heart and bone with mountain revelation and bluesy hunger. That’s when they pulse with virility. But this direction misspends the considerable power and hex of Peter Quirk’s voice.
Remember when I told you about Peacock Room’s whimsically inventive Kill Yr TV series a couple months ago? Well, the recent one featured a local band pingpong between two previous Undie award recipients: Wet Nurse and the Woolly Bushmen (April 16). As different as they seem on paper, they’re both party bands that know how to keep shit short, sweet and direct. And in a duel where the bands trade song-for-song, that makes for one high-impact shootout that puts the audience in the electrifying crossfire.
Developments in each include Wet Nurse adding a guitarist and Bushmen singer Simon Palombi tapping his inner Jerry Lee Lewis. Between their lively sets, both bands showed how fresh, fun and breathless band pingpong can be.
Debuting just last December, Orlando trio Hussy (April 18, Will’s Pub) is already more locked in and clearly manifesting their deep art-punk waters. Daring, smart and defiant, these guys are built on underground brain and raw nerve.
Also performing was formerly Gainesville, now local, electro-pop Pied Piper Michael Parallax. Let’s talk for a sec about what Florida’s own Dan Deacon does here. On a fundamental level, his music is solid. But his true triumph is beyond that basic calculus, with a social magic that only occurs with a live audience.
Like the aforementioned Deacon and other fully interactive acts like Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, a Parallax performance is a true event, one that incites up-close crowd engagement by completely demolishing the fourth wall. The directness of his line to people is how he conquers hearts and souls live. He doesn’t so much perform for you as much as reach out and bring you into the moment and joy of the performance itself. The performer-audience divide is effectively erased – all are one – and it’s why his shows are penetrating, communal experiences. The charged democracy of Parallax’s shows is no small marvel. Entire rooms don’t just follow him out into the street chanting a Macy Gray chorus for nothing.