Though it sometimes seems like it, not everybody in this scene is a kvetching do-nothing. Take Justin Bean, for example. This is one dude who gives a shit. A local musician with a marketing background, this enterprising young man started a grass-roots project called the Orlando Indie Awareness Initiative (www.myspace.com/orlandoscene) in response to what he saw as sagging attendance for local indie shows. Solely dedicated to remedying the situation, the page features a calendar of notable concerts and proves its dedication to improving local promotion by posting any full-size show flyer submitted for people to download and print for dissemination. In essence, it's a community bulletin board for Orlando indie rockers. This is Scene-Building 101 here, people. Besides, one more MySpace friend ain't gonna kill ya.
My, what interesting, modern times we live in. I mean, look around; two front-runners in the race to become our nation's next president are a woman and a black man, fer chrissakes (about damn time). So it's not such a stretch to think that the future of hip-hop may just lie in a few white guys. Consider the June 4 bill at the Social featuring Sage Francis, Buck 65, Alias and Buddy Wakefield. While hip-hop continues to stagger under the poisonous influence of the popular music marketplace, this lineup of underground heavyweights represents a clutch of bright young talents who aren't just keeping it real but are pushing the very bounds of the genre. I wasn't the only one who thought this might just be the year's dopest rap bill, because the club was crammed wall-to-wall with enough sweating bodies to melt an iceberg. But the hellish bathhouse conditions were worth enduring for the palpable anger of Sage Francis' razor-sharp attack and Buck 65's expansive approach, which yokes country and folk as comfortably as rap and turntablism.
Though Atlanta's Jason "Lefty" Williams is billed as a one-armed guitarist, that's not entirely accurate. As I saw at his recent Copper Rocket show, it was more like one and three-fifths, really. But I'm not gonna call shenanigans because that's enough to qualify for genuine accomplishment — the guy really can play. Fuck Lance Armstrong, man. After he rides a tour with one leg, THEN he can look Lefty in the eye. But, though the stumped picker was gifted technically, he was somewhat limited artistically, his college-friendly blend of jam, rock and light blues being about as edgy as an episode of Friends. Further dulling the set was the fact that he performed with neither an electric guitar nor a full band.
Finally, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club played the Social last Sunday. At first, a two-hour set seems like a noble bit of largesse. But for a band with only four albums, three of which are mostly identical, it's overkill. In fact, it made the set drag, giving me the sense that I was hearing a couple of songs a few times over. It would have remedied the situation had they played more off their pièce de résistance, Howl. Regardless, they sounded pretty fantastic live, their pounding rock insistence oiled by dark, luscious grooves.
With a rather exclusive June 6 opening out at Universal CityWalk, the touted Blue Man Group has officially taken up residence in our city. Overall, the show was as entertaining as it promised to be, though I could've done with less of the comedy sketches and more of the music. Go figure. The smart, future- primitive music played by a very visible band featured adventurous rock stripes and fulfilled its visceral purpose while keeping the intellectual bar high. When led by the Blue Men banging on a set of melodically arranged PVC pipes or just plain drums, the show's impressive musical sequences achieved the full-room, rhythmic electricity that Stomp does so well.
The after-party squashed any lingering doubt I may have had that this was a VIP situation. One of the soundstages was transformed into a cavernous party space swank enough to meet L.A. standards. Funny, though, how a high-class gesture like free food and an open bar tends to bring out the piggish low-class in everyone. But that has much to do with the fact that this is Orlando. Whatev, the big draw for me was San Francisco's Mike Relm, the reigning mash-up DJ in my book. Though he always brings down the house with his breathless mixing style, this set was more awesome than usual because he had two enormous screens on which to rip the VJ side of his craft, wherein he scratches in real time using video clips, making the images jitter humorously in sync with his skilled whickety-whacks. That guy just firstname.lastname@example.org