The most active summer in years in terms of community music events keeps on rolling. Next up is Indie Summer Fest (Aug. 8, $8, www.indiesummer.net) organized by Demario Wallace (Fly South Music) and Swamburger. Happening in the arty district of Audubon Park, the all-day music festival looks to make a significant splash with 70 bands on seven stages spanning the indie bastions of Park Ave CDs and Stardust Video and Coffee. It's a timely event considering the increasingly colorful culture of the neighborhood and the growing thirst for community-based music events. The lineup's still developing, but it's already looking good with confirmed headliners like Solillaquists of Sound, Mumpsy, Astronautalis, Yip-Yip and Sunbears.
Speaking of new summer festivals, Post Records unveiled the maiden 4th Fest (July 4, Gaston Edwards Park). Celebrating Independence Day festivities lakeside is a long Orlando tradition. Now, Lake Eola's nice and all, but I've always preferred Lake Ivanhoe. I dunno, maybe because I used to make out with girls there or something, but it's just one of my favorite downtown spaces. So it's great that an event with real identity has taken up residency there.
Howeverrr, inclement weather is always a wild card when dealing with an outdoor event this time of year. And the rain — a big dump of it — was an issue for the fest, effectively derailing it. By the time I arrived on the scene, everything was in a scramble. Activities were halted, the stage was soaked, the power was out and musicians were freaking over their instrumental investments. The downpour basically laid bare all the festival's lapses in organization. Because of its location and premise, the 4th Fest could be a way-cool annual event. But basic functionality needs to happen first, and that means much better contingency planning.
Although their goofball camp and imprecise humor sometimes undermine their virtues, Alias Punch (June 28, Will's Pub) offer a curious blend of '60s garage and left-field '80s post-punk that actually has some merit. Then again, silliness is always a bit more justifiable when you get a guy dressed in a homemade superhero costume onstage with you (Winter Park's sorta-famous Master Legend). But overall, Alias Punch's vision and execution was tighter and clearer than what I've seen from them before.
However, Tallahassee's Only Thieves followed with a set that reaffirms them as another one of Florida's criminally overlooked gems. Delivered via anthemic vocals and road-worthy indie-rock brawn, their rugged but soaring songs boast serious wingspan. No flash, no gimmick, just big, big songs.
Also hitting the sweet spot with the right balance of stampede and tunefulness were reveling Minneapolis punks Off with Their Heads (July 1, Back Booth). The gravelly glory of their chanting street-worthy melodies is the fist-pumping, soul-swelling kind typically owned by the best Oi! bands. And live, it was met with body-flying release and exultation.
Completely electrifying was the hammering blend of face-blasting hardcore brutality and rubber-burning rock riffage of Toronto's Burning Love (June 29, Back Booth). Although their attack is some seriously high-compression punk volatility, it's a sound that somehow manages rock badassness and legitimate melody as well. Fiery and earnest singer Chris Colohan blasted out the piss and conviction while two guitarists flashed some killer work through traded solos. Together, they practically blew my makeshift earplugs into my brain.
Headlining was Louisville, Ky.'s Coliseum, whose well-crafted metal was also an example of surprisingly effective expansiveness. Heavy but agile, burly but intelligent, this is one balanced and versatile trio. Moreover, the near-studio quality of their set showed them to be incredibly gifted live slayers.
It seems local band the Rules has emerged from deep hibernation (July 2, Peacock Room). It's been years since I last saw them but it's still remarkable to witness how liquid these players are despite their complex, sometimes mathematic progressions. Now before you go thinking this is some overly self-conscious egghead rock, their merge of post-rock and new wave — as well as some abstracted dashes of jazz and funk — is serious musicianship crossed with a real sense of humor. Sure, it's experimental and technical, but it can also get weirdly disco. They're as fun as they are progressive. Most importantly, they're a great re-addition to the scene and can serve as an example of musicianship to the younger emerging class of firstname.lastname@example.org