Now that it's proven it's got steam, let me introduce you to the best new music blog: Fucking Stop (fuckingstop.blogspot.com). It's based in Orlando and it's got a soul I can get down with. These cats basically do what I do here when it comes to shitty bands, only they do it anonymously, which throws the doors wide open. Like the musical cousin of the always awesome Defame Orlando, Fucking Stop is smart, funny and vicious. As I've told countless musicians disgruntled by one of my reviews, someone's gotta call it like it is.
The local event of the week was the reunion concert by post-hardcore outfit the Punching Contest (April 25, Will's Pub). One of the early stars on then-nascent Post Records, they were known for blinding, combustible performances. And what's clear after seeing them play live again is that few local bands today perform with such raw danger, personified largely by singer Nick Sprysenski.
I'm a huge fan of the experimental folk of Sprysenski's current project, Crutch & the Giant Junshi, but, man, was it spectacular witnessing the explosive physicality and twisted theatricality that the Punching Contest brings out in him. I'm all for anyone who'll literally bleed for a show. The guy's seriously got the makings of an underground hero. But he's relocating to NYC, so fuck him. Seriously, though, go forth and spread the gospel, son.
Another noteworthy local event was the Inkwell CD release party (April 19, Back Booth). Their emo-laden pop rock's not my bag, but at least they do it right. Though this kind of music is eternally teenage, there's something admirably mature about the way frontman Travis Adams does things. He's always been particularly gifted with melody, and his song construction boasts rock-solid fundamentals. At their best, his buoyant songs can hang with prime-era Get Up Kids or Jimmy Eat World. And the band brought it live with a sky-filling sound.
Despite — or perhaps because of — all their self-serious posturing, there's something very superficial about St. Louis' Living Things (April 23, the Social). They spike rock & roll with punk spunk, but somehow come up with a polished product. Pair that with styling that drips self-consciousness and you've got a band clearly canned for the mainstream. However, despite my personal view on that point, it doesn't change the fact that they're very good at what they do, as they demonstrated with a tight live set. At the end of the day, I'd much rather see the masses rocking out to them than 98 percent of what they're mindlessly slopping up right now.
Digging for the next "it" thing is usually the business here, but there's simply nothing like being in the presence of accomplished historical greatness — like Fleetwood Mac (April 20, Amway Arena). Yes, they're old, and, as old things do, they took a little time to warm up, specifically Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. But after the first quarter of the show, their chops demonstrated good fitness. Then again, anything short of a total performance meltdown would pass for inspiring when you consider the source material they're working with.
Featuring four of the five stars of the band's classic iteration (sans only Christine McVie), this greatest-hits tour was anything but a bloodless, going-through-the-motions affair, due largely to Buckingham's burning, passionate display on vocals and guitar. This guy is still moved by music and live performance. Physically and emotionally, he lays it on the line when he plays, matching the intensity of even the most swept-up fans in attendance. He's still in touch with the primal spirit of rock & roll rather than conveniently reveling in his stardom. And that's all right by me.
Other stirring sights were the open moments of tenderness between Buckingham and Nicks. They were few, but they were so pregnant with history that shit got pretty heavy a couple of times, especially during a gentle but prolonged embrace. But this concert was mainly about reconnecting with classics, not Hallmark moments. It was a stirring reminder that Fleetwood Mac are the authors of one of the greatest songbooks in rock history. After so many decades, it's astounding how viable these songs remain. (Just ask Rilo Kiley, a band often called "the new Fleetwood Mac.") In a light-speed, flashbulb world of flux and disposability, a performance like this puts things back in a long-view perspective where timelessness is a firstname.lastname@example.org