Lipstick Pickup, the new Orlando-based femme-punk label I mentioned a few months ago, is finally consummated. Hot off the presses is its debut release, a 7-inch by Washington State’s Yokohama Hooks, and it’s one sweet splash for the label. The tuneful, midpaced punk rock slashes with high-tension new wave streaks, and the choice A-side, “Cleveland French,” is rock & roll loud and unrestrained. As with all Lipstick releases, the pressing will be kept to a cultish 300 copies, so get on it (at www.floridasdying.com). If you’re lucky enough to be among the first 75, you’ll score colored vinyl and a unique hand-fashioned cover. Five bucks is a bargain for bragging rights.
Yes, of course I went to the Radiohead concert on May 6 at Tampa’s Ford Amphitheatre. Unlike everyone else, however, I did not walk in and automatically genuflect. Sure, I get why the esteem they enjoy has become institutionalized: Building a high international profile while remaining committed to making smart, reasonably challenging music is praiseworthy. Being responsible for the biggest industry flip-off in modern rock history with the way they released their latest album, In Rainbows (a populist gesture that has precipitated other alt-leaning heavyweights to follow, the latest being Nine Inch Nails) is downright revolutionary. But academic appreciation – which is what I have for them – does not always equal soul-stirring connection.
Moreover, the huge outdoor concert thing isn’t my idea of the optimum way to experience a band. I much prefer the raw human component of a performance over typically secondary considerations like light displays and the other sorts of props that these large shows necessarily entail. (I’m also not a fan of the captive-audience economics that bleed people at the faint-inducing rate of seven bones per domestic longneck.)
Still, despite all this predisposed luggage, they won me over with a solid, thorough performance. The sound and playing was predictably impeccable. Showing chops on multiple instruments, frontman Thom Yorke performed with his signature rapture and illustrated the power of his voice – a thing that lies between siren and specter – in panoramic glory. Yeah, they may be prone to self-indulgence but Radiohead is the real deal.
My aforementioned partiality for smaller rock clubs is the very thing that impelled me to see Liars play the Social the next night instead of witnessing their less personal opening slot for Radiohead. Though not as focused live, their singularly transporting, primal-screaming post-rock was played with fire and volume. The watermark conceptual depth and sonic ambition that the music world at large ascribes to Radiohead actually belongs to acts like Liars. Contrary to their name, their music is the truth.
The Death Set, however, earned the honor for best performance of the week because they came to fuck shit up, literally. Opening the dance bill headlined by Bonde do Role (which is pronounced bon-jay doh ho-lay… get it straight, people) at Club Firestone on May 8, the Baltimore act had the difficult job of thawing the social coldness of a trickling-in club audience. But they didn’t just warm up the party; they lit that sucker on fire in a hot-blooded set that leaned much more toward the punk side of their electro-hardcore.
With a two-guitar-and-two-drum-kit setup that was all sweetness and symmetry, the enormously promising band turned the typically unglamorous circumstance of playing on the dance floor rather than the stage into a democratic event marked by greater physical engagement. The fact that their headlong, Wham City–juiced anthems got people moshing seems unremarkable but, remember, this was a dance bill — and the Death Set completely turned it on its head. Then they concluded by materially wrecking their rig. Awesome!
Conversely, lecherous funk carioca act Bonde do Role couldn’t cut it despite sporting two replacement vocalists in the place of departed MC Marina Vello. If partying it up onstage hadn’t consumed every last bit of the new ladies’ efforts, perhaps their performance wouldn’t have been so slapdash and amateurish. Having fun performing is one thing, but having your own fun without heed to the experience of paying attendees is unforgivable dereliction.
When downtown has that festival glow, well, life is good. This week (May 14-17) the city’s longest-running music festival, the Florida Music Festival, is in full swing with three dizzying days of nonstop music action. Go out and soak it firstname.lastname@example.org