If you’re a fan of true country, then you’re a George Jones fan. Widely considered by even his most accomplished peers as the finest voice in acoustic music, Jones is the velvet quintessence of the country crooner. And he’s finally gotten the loving box-set treatment by those librarians at Time Life with The Hits Then Till Now. His illustrious, 50-year-plus career is logically outlined across this three-disc collection. Talk about a man who kept it real.
This week, I tripped over a couple of wrinkles in time. The first was at the Social on May 19, where I landed in some elaborately bizarre teen reality. With shit like cake, glitter, streamers, confetti, super-soakers and a piñata, it was like a head-on between a backyard birthday party and a prom for outcasts. Turns out it was a performance by local electro-pop act Blood on the Dance Floor and it was a million kinds of awful. Their music identity was vapid ’80s dance pop peppered with high-pitched screams. Making things worse, impossible though that may sound, was the fact that the show also involved hollow teen gab about hairspray, cell phones and other adolescent minutiae that’s like nine-inch nails on a chalkboard to anyone old enough to drive himself to the club. Let’s just say the shots came early for your boy that night.
The second warp was at Tabu on May 21 where I got a big slice of old-school Florida club culture at Classic Freestyle night (held the third Wednesday of every month). As the music that captivated me when I first moved here, freestyle still occupies a sentimental spot for me. I wasn’t nearly of clubbing age then, but it sure rocked the hell out of the middle-school house parties my aspiring DJ friends held. But we’re talking about a genre that ruled Florida clubs even before the big house-music boom, so I had doubts about the night’s turnout. I dunno where all these people crawled out from but they showed up in hordes. Butts to nuts, everybody was singing along to the songs DJ Slique was mixing, which was awesome. Even though freestyle is a relic of a genre, you wouldn’t know it if you stepped into this packed-out, bang-ass party. Classic Freestyle is also a concert series – this particular edition featured second-waver George Lamond – so check listings. Tip: no cover until 11 p.m.
Other goodness was at House of Blues on May 22 with English band Switches, whose sound corrals the golden bombast of ’70s arena rock, the wiry punk of early Elvis Costello and the new wave of the Cars. Onstage, they were glorious. All hooks and catchy angles, the band dazzled with grandiose harmonizing (up to four parts) and dueling, athletic guitar work. This is one band with serious live chops.
However, the show of the week was the double-headed beast of a bill at the Social on May 24 that featured the Sword and Torche, two of the brightest young stars in the heavy metal constellation. The Sword’s set? Studly. And Florida boys Torche remain one of my favorite live acts, packing a sound so thunderous that it’s like staring into the roaring mouth of a T. rex for 40 minutes. Bands like these are why metal is hip again.
Those who were there May 18 were treated to a special peek at the Invincibles, a side project marrying West Coast alt-rapper Murs and Jacksonville Afro-punk band Whole Wheat Bread. Aside from a showing at this year’s Coachella Music Festival, this was their only other public performance. By disposition, I’m for anything that challenges preconceptions, something WWB does intrinsically. I’m just not much of a fan when it comes to their boilerplate, simplistic pop punk. That said, the addition of Murs’ off-kilter swagger really helped it fly. Though it was technically rap-rock, a term that’s justifiably radioactive, it was reasonably well-done. An album’s worth of material exists (15 songs), but there are no release plans until later this year.
I come down hard on musicians for all sorts of things (e.g. wasting my life, draining my soul, and so on) but, really, I appreciate your labor. So will anyone else who watches the just-released DVD A Skin, A Night about indie luminary the National. Documenting the recording of their last album, Boxer, it dissects the creative process in a way that fully explores the grind and perseverance involved in making music. Though sometimes arty to a fault, the film uncovers the difficulty, and therefore miracle, of the completed composition. It’ll help you appreciate the next album you firstname.lastname@example.org