Music » This Little Underground

Ugly Orange emerges as a local platform for new talent, Australian Kanine Records band Hockey Dad debut in Orlando

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One of the more emergent and promising new promoters bubbling up in the city recently, Ugly Orange has been putting together some notable bills that gather and – most importantly, in my opinion – sometimes even uncover new music talent worth discovering in both the area and the indie touring circuit.

Welzeins, TV Dinner and DONKNG, Will's Pub, March 15

TV Dinner is a new local twee-pop band that I've now seen two weeks in a row, first at the Allison Crutchfield show and then at this recent Ugly Orange showcase. Widened slightly by a keyboard dimension, their guitar pop is simple, tender, a little shaggy but melodically lovely – basically, what you want in a twee-pop band. The group's still pretty embryonic but, with some more practice and seasoning, that loveliness will only become more defined.

Also playing was young Gainesville band DONKNG. Their recordings suggest slacked-out indie rock with more than a passing resemblance to the Strokes, especially with singer Camilo Isaza's lazy-cool Julian Casablancas drawl. But even though there's still all that promised economy, tune and jangle, they're more varied and nuanced live with some post-rock airs and restless undercurrents.

Even though they were the earliest to play, the night's biggest rockers were the Welzeins. Able to deftly handle garage, punk, surf and heavy rock, the Orlando duo are one of the city's more prismatic two-piece bands. But this show was a reminder that they're also one of the best and most proficient, now with more confidence and kick than ever. Still, they remain criminally overlooked.

Besides pacing that was overly leisurely for a weeknight show (the four-band bill was barely past the midway point at midnight), the event did demonstrate what Ugly Orange does well: showcase promising young talent. Ugly Orange is doing some good work, and it's an indie booking banner worth particular note.

Hockey Dad with You Vandal and CHRMNG, Will's Pub, March 12

Having ripped one of the most immediate and incandescent albums of 2016 with Boronia, young duo Hockey Dad are one of the brightest new stars in an already esteemed Kanine Records galaxy. Like the coastal Australian sand from whence they sprung, their music is endless summer put to tape.

There's some modern beach-punk bounce in Hockey Dad's DNA, which their raw two-piece live setup made salient at their Orlando debut. But that latest record proves that their shimmering fuzz-rock is an impossibly likable marriage of texture, vigor and melody, like Surfer Blood jacked with the octane of Japandroids. Far greater than any of their stylistic markers, however, is the brilliant pop facility of their music, which filled that debut album with melodies that strike perfection with stunning frequency. Unfortunately, some of their truly exceptional melodic work gets lost in the crank and economy of their basic live arrangement. But just watch drummer Billy Fleming bang the drums like Animal from the Muppets and you'll see – nothing dims the spirit that propels them.

The turnout for their Orlando debut was respectable but not blockbusting. The part that's most telling about their appeal and promise, though, is that people were singing along and losing their shit.

Gainesville opener You Vandal deal in the kind of emo that, thank god, is more about anthem and drive than melodrama. With a turbo sound that paints its heart in big Jimmy Eat World-sized strokes, they're one of the most charging bands of their ilk around here.

What to say about the vowel-averse CHRMNG? Not even a full minute into their set and the singer was already calling for everyone to move up close to the stage and put a hand in the air. That's a lot of audience participation to demand from the jump, and it only works when you're a rap act or are already a star. They are neither. It was contrived and gauche. Even more unfortunate, the same can be said of not just that moment but most of what this band is. Between their pop affectation, wobbly performance and the cheese they mistake for charm, it's something that wants very badly to be but just is not.

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