So the storm that was supposed to be Mother Nature's wrath ended up a long, wet sneeze. Oh, Fay, you gotta come with more than that to keep hurricane-hardened people like us in. Apart from a couple of major cancellations like Summerbirds in the Cellar and Stone Temple Pilots, the shows went on. If only our political memory could be as long as our recall of weather history.
Mills Avenue saw all the big Saturday night action, and the most notable event was the marathon Floridas Dying bill (Aug. 23, Will's Pub). Tons of bands were featured, but an equal draw was the chance at a sneak peek of the new Will's Pub.
But hold up, wait a minute, stop right there. The pub is not, I repeat, not in operation just yet, nor has an official opening date been announced due to the unpredictable nature of the city's permitting department, who I'm sure are all too kind, smart and good-looking to deprive us of the long-awaited return of one of the city's most venerated cultural institutions much longer. (Don't make me put on the kneepads.)
No, this was just a party. The bar wasn't open, the stage hasn't been built — hell, the AC wasn't even functional yet. Actually, the accommodations weren't much more luxurious than the austere warehouse space of the Black Box Collective. But the buzz of anticipation? Yeah, that shit was heavy.
Of the many bands there, Miami's Jacuzzi Boys put on a standout set that showed why they're one of the brightest stars in the Floridas Dying stable. Giving their snotty garage-punk added depth was a pronounced jones for '60s psychedelic rock, resulting in a sound as atmospheric as it was ragged.
Farther up the road that night was the CD release party for the ever theatrical and sleazy punk act Danny Feedback (Copper Rocket). Despite the fanfare of a drag wardrobe that was part thrift store and part Frederick's of Hollywood, this was a tame performance, at least in the context of the local trio's history of explosive onstage antics. No material destruction, no nudity, but still amusing.
Contrary to rumors I've heard and footage I've seen, the Smashing Pumpkins totally didn't suck in person (Aug. 22, Hard Rock Live). The big factor in question has always been the live rendition of Billy Corgan's voice, and that was decent on this night. The old material has aged pretty well but the new, significantly less distinctive material proved that Silversun Pickups now rule the Pumpkins' old block.
Oakland indie band Audrye Sessions (Aug. 18, the Social) carries the double-edged sword of a notably big-throated singer, Ryan Karazija. It's not always the obvious advantage you'd think it would be. All too often, a voice so strong becomes either a crutch or an all-eclipsing juggernaut. Either way, overall, the music suffers.
In the least successful moments of their performance, the music was just a sideshow to Karazija's huge vocals. The good news is that in the best moments their pop rock was capable of epic heights. His voice is truly an expressive force of nature and should be employed to its fullest extent. The instrumental weight, however, should be at least equal to the heft of his voice, otherwise the whole thing could turn into opera lickety-split.
If they can keep that balance in check, they'll be golden. But just in case, the band needs to make a pact now to beat Karazija's ass the minute he starts to turn into Jimmy Gnecco. Pinky-swear and all.
Anchoring the bill was Indianapolis act Margot & the Nuclear So and So's. Revolving around singer-songwriter Richard Edwards, not Margot (the band is named after Gwyneth Paltrow's character in The Royal Tenenbaums), the eight-piece indie-rock orchestra always does well live. The visual spectacle of a band that large going at all those instruments helps, but they have yet to fully capture that splendor on tape.
What hurts them too often in the recorded material is the sanding-down of the many interesting sonic details so critical to their chamber pop aesthetic. Regardless, they remain a stirring live email@example.com