Not long ago, I attended live shows at several venues whose operational métier lies in other facets of night life. And let me tell you, going to concerts at dance clubs and ultralounges sure ain't the same as at the professional rock clubs, in ways both good and bad.
Rock or cut bait
Rhythm & Flow isn't the type of joint where you'd normally find me. It's nothing personal, but the club's one of those "stylish dress requested" places, and we probably have differing opinions on the term "stylish." But who knows? Maybe they'd be cool with my Boob Scotch T-shirt. On a recent night, I did manage to infiltrate wearing jeans and cowboy boots. Just as I was beginning to feel warmed by the glow of my perceived triumph, it turned out they're not persnickety about "style" when they have rock shows. Yep, rock shows.
Every Tuesday, the club hosts Latin rock bands for a night they call "Playa Abiz." A riser on the end of the dance floor under the big video screen served as the stage, in an arrangement that was oddly similar to the old Will's Pub music room. As ad hoc as this seems, the place had rather good sound. Before this tumbles into rhapsody, though, here's the rub: Dance clubs and rock clubs exist in separate time zones. Rhythm & Flow opened at 9 p.m., but a band didn't play until almost midnight. On a Tuesday. And that was just the opening act.
This was no anomaly, because I had an identical experience over by International Drive. Tucked in the same shopping center as titanic ultrahangar Destiny Nightclub is Club Hush, where I went for more rock en Español. The opener didn't begin until 11:30 p.m. or so, despite the fact that it was a Monday night. The resurgent Club at Firestone also is stricken with this condition when it comes to live acts. Aside from their joint ventures with Foundation Presents, the Club is in the midst of a renewed bid to become a presence in the live music scene, primarily through its Saturday Thursday indie-dance nights. The featured act on these Thursday events doesn't typically perform until, oh, about 1 a.m.
I want to note that these clubs are to be commended for bringing alternative fare to the table. But here's my deal: A concert is a different beast than a dance night. The trajectories of their timetables simply do not align. For proof, compare the difference between what is considered to be a prime-time DJ slot and a prime-time band slot. Furthermore, the two types of attendees do not share the same psychology when it comes to stimuli and expectation. By definition, concerts are more event-driven, so dicking around in a club not knowing when crumbs from the stage might be thrown your way isn't a thrilling proposition. Finally, this isn't 1994. The nightclub laws have changed and so has the scene. These anachronistically late stage times only serve to place those shows out of the reach of many people who would otherwise be spending money in that club. DJs are perfectly capable of playing after the live sets.
Holiday crib sheet
Recently, the nominees for the 2007 PLUG Independent Music Awards were announced. For those not in the know, they're the indie community's answer to mainstream plaudits like the Grammys or the American Music Awards, which are all bullshit, anyway. PLUG nominees are selected by a group of generally hip industry types and music-minded celebrities, such as David Cross and Jason Lee. But you seekers of substance are the ones who get to decide the winners. Vote at plugawards.com/general_vote.php, which is a rather populist way of going about it for a bunch of music snobs.
After perusing the list of nominees, I thought those snobs did a respectable job of selecting this year's highlights. The winners won't be revealed until the Feb. 10 ceremony in New York City, but the reason I mention this now is that the holiday season is upon us like a pit bull on a baby's head and the list struck me as a decent gift guide for the music geek in your life — or a wish list for you. My picks from some of their album lists:
• Album of the Year: Band of Horses, Everything All The Time — the most celestial, triumphant record made in years.
• Metal Album of the Year: The Sword, Age of Winters — both "heavy" and "metal," it totally destroys.
• Americana Album of the Year: Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins, Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins — OK, she name-drops our city, but this debut is remarkably realized. (Many of the other nominees in this category appear to have been chosen by people unfamiliar with the genre.)
• Electronic/Dance Album of the Year: Ratatat, Classics — simplistic but immediate and enjoyable.
• Avant Album of the Year: Liars, Drum's Not Dead or Xiu Xiu, The Air Force — both visceral records; Liars complex and primordial, Xiu Xiu perhaps the most emetic pop music ever firstname.lastname@example.org