- Jim Leatherman
In a tragic blow to the Orlando music community, scene vet Ralph Ameduri was shot dead in an attempted robbery after a gig in Winter Haven last weekend. The gunman is still at large. I didn’t know Ralph personally, but I know he was well established (Legendary JC’s, the Rondos, etc.) and widely loved. So fucking senseless. May justice and peace come soon for him and his loved ones.
The inaugural Accidental Music Festival (Sept. 4-13) – the pioneering series curated by Orlando musician Christopher Belt – is now officially in the books. It was a mind-opening affair, emphasizing contemporary work primarily in the classical, jazz, electronic and experimental genres. The performances varied widely in comprehensibility, but the best displays I caught were the room-waking ones, particularly the charged percussion/electronics piece by Thad Anderson (“Concertante”) and the warped improvisational guitar journey by Kris Gruda that incorporated a kitchen whisk to good effect.
By focusing on the modern expression of these sometimes hidebound styles, familiar instrumental tones took on new and unexpected forms, often making the sounds feel otherworldly and almost alien in today’s pop-music reality. Whether or not I got into them, all the pieces I experienced were sonic voyages with distinct compositional narratives. Now, I’m not going to even pretend that I can expound too incisively about contemporary classical or some of the other styles represented by this event, but I’ll bet that goes for most of you, too. Many of these core genres are like Latin to our post-rock & roll world, a root language that hovers at the periphery of our lexicon in distant strands unless formally studied. And I can’t necessarily say that this first AMF got me to a point of conversance yet. But that’s the value and the point of it: to begin the discourse in a broader arena and move us out of the darkness of ignorance. Although I can’t yet speak with authority on all of the music, I can emphatically pronounce AMF’s import as a cultural event. And, really, it was a very ballsy production to put on, so respect to Christopher Belt.
That said, there is clearly a scene and talent for it here, enough for the event to happen fully funded through a Kickstarter campaign. And though these scholarly, non-rock styles aren’t quite out of the academic hothouse and onto the streets yet, AMF is a critical start.
With their expansive and well-executed takes on early punk rock, Seattle’s Cute Lepers and Houston’s Something Fierce made for a decidedly interesting bill (Sept. 8, Will’s Pub). Local opener Larf, however, was more straight-ahead pop punk. With the exception of a few reliable practitioners, pop punk is a fleeting pleasure. After a certain point of personal development, most pop-punk bands just sound saccharine and wimpy. But Larf is definitely all right. Unlike so many of their melody loving peers, their live sound actually has some horsepower under the hood.
Making very nice ripples was D.C. indie-rock band Deleted Scenes (Sept. 9, Will’s Pub). Casting D.C. rock angularity in intriguing psychedelic washes, they’re a technical band that never loses sight of melodiousness and character. You can either geek out or just plain vibe out to ’em. They’ve got the dynamics, the atmospherics and the songs – the complete package.
But landing like a big, gay and completely amazing cannonball were San Francisco’s Hunx and His Punx (Sept. 10, Will’s Pub). This show was well on its way before they even played a note. During soundcheck, the loud, proud and hilariously charismatic Hunx got everyone in the mood with his good-natured diva-ness, fussing over sonic details that matter little to their style of show and repeatedly asking the sound guy to remove his shirt. (You go, Bob.)
But then they struck and just completely turned this mother out. Something about their sweetheart garage punk really brings out the wild side, because the ready-to-pop crowd erupted into a total animal house. It was one of those all-in happenings where the shit-losing audience is a huge part of the spectacle. They showed up for sure, but we did too, goddammit. And that’s when beautiful, crazy magic happens. This was one of the wall-to-wall wildest shows this year. Put Hunx and His Punx on a gay pride parade float, and they’d turn it into a street party, Ferris Bueller-style.Promise.