With all the uncertainty on the independent music festival front (Anti-Pop is still on hiatus, nothing's yet concrete with Orange You Glad and 4th Fest is dead), at least the Indie Summer Fest organizers have confirmed with me their encore. Woo-hoo, official development! After last year's big debut in the lovely Audubon Park hood, this year will bring some significant changes.Most notably, it'll return on Sept. 24 as Indie Fall Fest. Also new will be the location: The event will basically turn the open, consolidated back lot of Firestone Live into a festival village, something that's been working out pretty well for the weekly Wednesday night food truck pod. With seven stages, the music will be nonstop. And though this year will also feature a few big national headliners yet to be announced, the best news so far is that the lineup will still focus on Florida indie bands. A close second? Better weather. Stay tuned for more deets.
Sometimes covering the beat is a repetitive grind. But this was a particularly refreshing week filled with lots of good discoveries.
One bill brought two more acts to file under "Good Bands From Gainesville" (May 24, Will's Pub). The first is Primitive Boys,who bashed out bright garage punk-informed anthems via a brisk setup of two guitars, drums and organ that managed to be lean yet full. Their scrappy, vintage rock & roll soul is sometimes sleazy, sometimes open-hearted, but always burning. A good Dead Boys cover never hurts, either.
The second is Pseudo Kids, who played Orlando for the first time. Name notwithstanding, there's nothing ersatz about their songwriting. Their tuneful indie rock somehow spans '90s slackness and millennial spryness with a spirit that nicely straddles both insouciance and heart. Brimming with crisp notes and a sweet nature, these cats know their way around a tight, catchy tune. Memorable straight-up indie-rock bands aren't necessarily what Gainesville is famous for, but having Pseudo Kids sure helps. Both they and Primitive Boys are shiny new entries in my running tally of dope Gainesville bands.
A couple other notable finds shared another bill (May 22, Will's Pub). New Jersey's Communipaw deals in a twang-laced, elegantly downcast kind of rock. What makes them substantial is that they don't simply exorcise inner emotions - any sensitive wanker can do that. Communipaw's expression actually strokes the soul. And they're a reminder that there's something especially nice about hearing spacious and tuneful indie rock done properly and precisely - no sizzle, no bang, just acres of loveliness. Their quiet but gorgeously reclined sound may not roar, but it will fill up every corner of the room.
Also pleasing was headlining Boston indie-folk duo Destry, who are a hundred times more engaging live than on record. Filling out their onstage ensemble with members of Communipaw gave their airy melodies some welcome heft. The vibrant humanity and charm that they radiate live is something they should dedicate themselves to capturing on tape.
From time to time, I like to step into a random show without any background knowledge, just to see what else is out there. One such show this week (May 25, Back Booth) yielded no revelations. The opposite, in fact. But like a valuable cautionary tale, it was a jarring reminder of the dreck that's still out there.
Case in point was Holbrook, who are physically from Orlando but chronologically hail from the dark ages of soft-core post- grunge radio rock from the turn of the millennium. No need to waste detail describing their sound because it's nothing that hasn't already been inflicted upon everybody ad nauseam. All you need to know is that they brought two of their own mini risers onstage with them … to rest a foot on … y'know, to strike that "cool" rocker pose while performing. That is never a good sign. The only arguably cool guy I ever saw do something like that was Glenn Danzig, but that's probably more because he's a Napoleon. Eh, sometimes it's good to see how the other half lives, right? I keep telling myself that.
Wow, at $75 for just a one-day pass, the Electric Daisy Carnival (May 27-28, Tinker Field) featured prices steep enough to cut deep into your drug allowance. How's that for irony?