- Xiu Xiu show how electronic sets are done
Orlando’s on the bubble in terms of an NBA championship quest, so this is a swing year, a nut check, a test of will. Dwight, dominance is as mental as it is physical and it’s time to prove yours once and for all. Vince, you should’ve been the story of the year last season but weren’t, so eternal redemption is now or never. Everyone else, your time is now. Go Magic.
Looks like two significant indie music festivals – Anti-Pop and Orange You Glad – won’t be happening this year. More deets soon, but the usually autumnal Anti-Pop is shooting for a springtime return. The already delayed OYG has been pushed back even further, but it’s doing a “sleigh ride” as a holiday fundraiser (Dec. 18). Featuring bands at venues such as Will’s Pub, Stardust, Redlight Redlight, Park Ave CDs and Peacock Room, the pub crawl will connect and synergize the hip urban crescent of Mills Avenue, Corrine Drive and Bennett Road via the Shipyard party bus. Proceeds from this civic-minded event will go to a charity for kids’ toys and Audubon Park neighborhood improvements.
An open memo to electronic acts: Please devote more time to the conception of your live shows. Accept that you have to think even harder about it than rock bands. Even if they’re wooden onstage, we know they’re doing something constructive just by seeing them play their instruments. You electronic artists don’t – and understandably can’t – always have that crutch. But you still have to do something worth people’s money and physical presence. They don’t call it a “show” for nothing. Maybe you guys can organize a workshop on the language of live performance or something. Oh, and invite the rappers, too.
Illustrative of this was Gary Numan (Oct. 17, Firestone Live) and ARP (Oct. 18, Back Booth). Although it sounded good, Numan’s show wasn’t much to look at. But at least the new-wave old-timer has legacy on his side. ARP’s planetarium sounds, however, need a whole lotta something else to be at all moving in person.
Fully exempt from the above lesson is Canadian headliner Caribou, whose new floor-minded sound is disco in a good way. Like LCD Soundsystem, they know how to translate their expression into a thoroughly live experience. It’s stunning how this studio-intensive act goes that extra mile in person to become a completely realized synthesis of electronic and organic.
If you’re treated to a steady enough diet of acts like this, you’ll quickly realize how chronically electronic artists underachieve. Next to Caribou’s active performance, that one guy flanking Numan and plinking a single synth key is both hilarious and sad.
The incomparable Xiu Xiu (Oct. 21, Back Booth) also proved that just because it’s electronic music doesn’t mean you can’t play a meaningful amount of it live. Even without a human drummer, they put on a legitimate live show. Jamie Stewart rocked the guitar and Angela Seo played actual hooks and not just some damn snare clap on her keyboard. And between them, an arsenal of unusual percussion was used to render their brand of sonic pointillism. For just two people onstage, it took six microphones to capture all of the ambient action and purposeful nuance going on in the sonically mindful set.
Will’s Pub (Oct. 18) was butts-to-nuts for a free local show anchored by the excellent likes of Basements of Florida, SSLOT and Weeks. There was something unusual about its buzz and vibe, something that made it feel like a special event. With bands setting up in a rotating fashion on the floor, the show used every corner of the room except the stage. Besides high-energy talent, the event featured unusually immersive patterns of interaction between performance and people.
This was one of the most energized and organic local events this year, the kind that can change the general conception of the Orlando scene in profoundly positive ways. It certainly didn’t hurt that it was free. If venues could work out some proportional way to pay the bands from the bar take, the lack of cover charge could bring in enough additional drinkers to improve the bottom line for everyone. Find a way to make that work and you’ve got a new paradigm.