A glimpse at the bustling gaggle of tower cranes in downtown will show you that Orlando is changing in a big way. But rejoice, rock & roll dirtbags, it's not just the suits and yups that'll feast on this fruit. The recent changes in our music scene's topography have so far been successful. However, what's happening next will be historical.
I've been itching like a crackhead to drop this news so gimme the microphone before I bust in my pants. The ink is dry, the contract executed and Will's Pub has found a new home. "Bigger and better" may be the most unoriginal of descriptors, but this time it's the truth. The new space boasts a 40 percent increase in square footage, and the location is in the high-visibility neighborhood of Colonial and Mills (specifically, in an old theater on Colonial next to the Cruises Only building). That haze of sentimentality you've been carrying over the loss of the original pub should be dissipating right about now.
Since the ink on the contract is barely dry, much is still subject to change, but management hopes to open around the New Year. Owner Will Walker says he'll maintain the two-room setup of the previous pub, keeping the bar and music rooms distinct. In fact, greater separation is planned so that cover charges will apply only to the music room. If Will's Pub was a cornerstone bar and live venue before, then we can only dream wildly about the possibilities of this incarnation. So it's not just sawdust you're smelling in the wind, it's potential — enough of it to make some other clubs very nervous. In perhaps the oddest twist, it was my own mother who brokered the deal and who will be receiving his rent checks.
The blind item I mentioned last month about a new opening by the ownership of a live venue is unveiled this week: The Social's owners have officially taken over Fairbanks Tavern in Winter Park. Though the official soft opening isn't set until Nov. 22, with a grand opening around the first of the year, McRaney's Tavern, named after one of the partners, is open for business. It's not placing an emphasis on live music, however, focusing instead on improving the existing pub atmosphere and beer garden that no one seems to know is there.
Our city may be world-famous for its hospitality (present company excluded) but last week we ran a clinic on total sonic annihilation. First, the lo-fi/big-noise onslaught of Jucifer went down at AKA Lounge. "An attack" is more accurate than "a concert" when describing any performance by Athens' most gruesome twosome, and they damn near leveled the joint. Phil Spector's "wall of sound" was an intangible sonic quality, but Jucifer's Wall of Sound is a literal mountain of amps that covers the back stage wall. By some bizarre booking miscalculation, they were appended to a lineup of D-list locals, but not even the supremely threatening backdrop of Jucifer's gear could make the insufferably hackneyed rap-rock of Psycho Pharm cool. Needless to say, Jucifer's destructive sludge completely melted the local yokels that played before them.
Then came cult legends the Melvins at the Social, with an expanded roster that now includes fellow wrecking balls Big Business. Though Big Business' own opening performance wasn't quite the aural skinning it was last time, the diesel their presence added to the Melvins' set was eviscerating. The Melvins' sheer sonic magnitude is always as impressive as it is intimidating, but listening to the equivalent of Black Sabbath cranked up, overdriven and played at eight rpm isn't always conducive to sustained attention. The incorporation of Big Business' pummeling, headlong advance into the band's collective sound pushed the performance to thrilling altitudes. And the duel of drums between Dale Crover and Coady Willis was simply flooring.
Speaking of righteous drumming, local hardcore band Racin for Pinks boasts an impressive new timekeeper. At their recent show at Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall, drummer Pete Wellmaker (formerly of Southern metal powerhouse Hope & Suicide) was as skilled as he was fierce. Their full-tilt sound has always been effectively guitar-driven, but the added meat and dynamism he brings is welcome. Maybe it's the misleading moniker, but this is a mysteriously overlooked punk rock band. This charged performance was a reminder that there's absolutely no good reason for it.
Headlining was Alternative Tentacles garage punk act The Fleshies. They totally turned it out, showing facility in a variety of genres, but little of that mattered in light of singer Johnny No Moniker's wild physicality. He sang from just about every perch in the joint and even spent some time out on the sidewalk baying to Mills Avenue traffic. Truly one of the most electrifying frontmen I've seen in a long time, he could make a damn polka band firstname.lastname@example.org