TLU's on break next week, but that's our one-year Pulse remembrance issue. It'll be heavy but necessary.
BASH & POP, THE SOCIAL, MAY 22
It's hard to capture lightning – or, in Tommy Stinson's case, the party – in a bottle. The Replacements were that party. Boy, were they. But truly great parties like that are magical things. They just happen, and there's only so much you can do to force it. And poor Stinson has been chasing it for a long time.
He tried immediately after the Replacements disbanded with Bash & Pop. The band released an album in 1993 and then it was over with little but a small cult footprint to show for it. Other music concerns eventually took over for him, including playing bass in Guns N' Roses. And then, in the ultimate tease, the Replacements actually reunited in 2012, only to buckle under their own baggage again in 2015.
Now, Stinson's finally resurrected Bash & Pop and released a follow-up album after 24 years this January on esteemed indie label Fat Possum. If the party chemistry was already elusive before the dust of the original Replacements' 1991 implosion settled, you'd think it would be sheer fantasy at this point. And then you press play on the new album, Anything Can Happen. Turns out, the title is right, prescient even, because this record is good, eerily good, a miracle. With a surprising number of instant classics, it's maybe the best channeling of the 'Mats spirit there's been, at least in a very long time.
On stage in Orlando, they were loud, smeared and remarkably vigorous. The soundtrack to barroom romanticism and pure revelry, Bash & Pop pounded out wide-swinging American rock & roll born of perfect melodies, a little snot and a lot of true belief. Even though their attitude is shaggy by design, the band actually delivered with precision and muscle, befitting a current lineup studded with members of the Hold Steady, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Screeching Weasel.
As for Stinson himself, the guy commanded the frontman spot like he was always meant to be there and wore it like a punk lifer. Personifying that hallmark dynamic between heart and spit, he sharply barked about technical issues but then immediately overcame them with touching and personal gestures like unplugged, gather-'round performances that stoked the crowd until the problems were fixed, showing a balance between hardened warhorse and unflappable showman.
It looks like someone found the keys to the glory days. The original marrow, it seems, still exists and Tommy Stinson is tapping it. Make that shot a double, barkeep.
DEL THE FUNKY HOMOSAPIEN AND SEAN SHAKESPEARE, THE SOCIAL, MAY 23
In perspective and aesthetic, Del the Funky Homosapien has often seemed more from outer space than the West Coast. The chill step and left lean of his signature lyrics and flow have made him one of the most consistently intriguing rappers of his generation. That he sports a résumé that includes Deltron 3030 and Gorillaz is no accident.
Backed by fellow Hieroglyphics crew member Domino, Del put on a career-spanning performance, including material from those high-profile side projects. The set went from golden old-school vibes on out to his odder orbits, all with easy charisma and skill that neither tries too hard nor needs to. Dude killed it from the pocket all night long. Once the crowd started sending shots up on stage, Del's stream of consciousness only got more outlandish, mixing life observations with allusions to Hellboy. The more real he got, the clearer it became that he's far more indie hero than glitzy star. Even more, he's a true original who comes from a time and school where being weird wasn't license to slack on your technique. Talking to all you mumble rappers out there right now.
Opening was local MC Sean Shakespeare, who blends a modern outlook with classic hip-hop style. With clean, tight lines and acrobatic fitness, he rolls in a natural cadence that's technical but never tense. Backed by good, interesting tracks, he's one of the most complete of the young artists in the Orlando-based Second Subject crew.