I'm happy to report some improvements on the local band front this week.this week.
Up to this point, all I've seen of local indie-pop band An Introduction to Sunshine were ideas killed by overzealous instrumentation. But they recently played a stripped down, mostly acoustic set (June 20, the Social backroom), and instead of cramming like they tend to do, this setup actually allowed their musical gestures to breathe far more fully and spring to life. Most importantly, singer Michael Serrin's elegant voice was much more effective without instruments crowding it. This more flatteringly restrained approach had more clarity and made their songwriting skill translate more fully. If this set's indicative of what they've been working on, this band can finally be a real player.
Last time I saw Orlando's Peter Baldwin, he was solo and marginally decent. But boy, has this guy come a long way. Now he's got a great band and has blossomed into an incredibly realized performer himself (June 22, Back Booth). He finally has a way more legit and forward-thinking vision of soul, and I'm totally sold on the kid now. If he keeps at it, he might become this city's Cody Chesnutt.
Opening was local indie-pop band Mother Night, which is basically a retooled and resurrected XOXO, whose They-Might-Be-Giants-meets-Green-Day sound was always solid but their name was suspect. Well, that's clearly improved with a nice Kurt Vonnegut reference. But whatever they wanna play under, I'm glad they're back. Even though that twee-ass synth will surely make their music age less gracefully, hell if those dudes don't make some of the finest, purest, tightest pop songs around.
Playing the best lineup for the Orlando Rocks! series seen in years were local alt-country act Lonesome City Travelers (June 26, House of Blues). I didn't like this band when I first saw them back in January, but I did say that I could be into them in a year if they kept practicing. Well, it's been six months, and they've already improved. Although more work's needed with ensemble cohesion and Scott Metts' voice — who is fine as harmonic support but not as a lead — this band has gotten measurably better.
Cocoa's Damion Suomi & the Minor Prophets popped off the night like the pros they are. Their blend of American and Irish folk with some barn-torching gypsy fire has really come into its own and deserves every bit of the following it's garnered. As a live force, they kicked up the dust in a big way, especially drummer Ian Little, whose physical style often finds him everywhere else but on his stool. Ultimately, they owned the event, turning a local showcase into something that felt like an official headlining event.
But one local act that has yet to jell is the undercooked Please Respect Our Decadence (June 21, Will's Pub). Their synthetic-organic hybrid of electronic beats and live guitar and vocals could be interesting, but the rapping is just sophomoric. They say they're freestyling, but freestyling is an actual art in itself (see: Astronautalis) and takes real skill to pull off. Besides, scripting is something this group could use a whole lot more of.
But credit's due to Fangs Out, the regular electronic music showcase that this performance was a part of. From the improved stage getup to the integrated visuals, their production is getting better. However, in order to be sustainable, the event needs anchors stronger than Please Respect Our Decadence. Dub Theorist are solid but the band is still one dude behind some electronics. Fangs Out would have a better fighting chance if there were more rotation and caliber in its lineup.
I recently mentioned Andy Matchett & the Minks. They just had one of their soon-to-be-famous parachute shows (June 25, Back Booth), and that shit took me straight back to grade-school P.E. class. The latter part of the performance literally takes place underneath a parachute, complete with leaf-blower, strobes and confetti. It's a great idea to really bring the party to a performance in a transformative way. But, man, you people need to learn how to work the physics of a parachute. Without technique, this ostensible parachute party is just a huge multi-person ghost costume. In order to truly realize the concept, the band should have its own (trained) people handle the chute and let the revelers just firstname.lastname@example.org