Brace yourselves, guys. I'll be on column break next week. It'll be OK, I promise.
I've been curious to see St. Pete's Wolf-Face (May 6, Will's Pub) for a while now – mainly because, first, they're a band called Wolf-Face and, second, they actually wear wolf faces. Their particular lupine inspiration is Michael J. Fox's b-balling Teen Wolf because, duh. Beyond that, I'm only concerned about their music because it's my job. Really, I just wanted to see wolves on stage. And they delivered, Beavers jerseys and all.
But, holy shit, behind all the goof and gimmick, they're actually a good band. Their intro was a nicely faithful rendition of the Cramps' "I Was a Teenage Werewolf," but the rest was roof-punching, street-style punk rock. As muscular as they are melodic, they outclass many of their more earnest punk contemporaries. They're solid enough, in fact, to stand strong even without their whole getup. But please, please, please ... don't ever lose the getup.
Five months in and hopeful new concert monthly Punk on the Patio is still a thing – and, thankfully, a good and well-supported thing. The latest edition (May 4, the Patio) was a strong, legitimately underground roster with bands like young local standout Crit, Jacksonville's the Caution Children and Palm Bay's Gillian Carter. The latter two are a couple of progressive heavy Florida bands that first caught my ear several years ago at true DIY spots like Uncle Lou's and the dearly departed Hoops Tavern. Both draw good results from hardcore and post-hardcore but with distinctly different aesthetics.
The Caution Children weave screamo and tall, textured post-rock into a sweeping, widescreen sound aimed at the sky. It's screeching, gleeful release delivered with a little theater, even.
Driven more by velocity, Gillian Carter goes for the face with a more blistering kind of beauty. And they really brought the heat, with far and away the best set of the night. Even though they come full-tilt, they're an intelligent band that shatters most institutional notions about intense music with a full spectrum of moods, from skydiving blasts to melodic odysseys. As one of the most dimensional extreme bands coming out of Florida, these guys make even Deafheaven seem narrow. And perhaps most notably, they've crystallized considerably into an indisputably complete force of extraordinary expression since I last saw them.
It's great to see that POTP is keeping up both its momentum and quality. The monthly concert series is a great deal ($5 cover includes a free drink), a doable commitment (sane weekday show times) and a much-needed reclamation of prime downtown real estate for live music of real credibility. And it's probably the only place you'll get to see some of these exciting underground bands amid lasers, fog, bubbles and the downtown skyline.
Country-rocker Matt Woods is from Knoxville but practically has dual citizenship here with how often he comes through. And though he may not have the most sizable following here, he has something that most buzz-bands-du-jour can't claim: real ride-or-die fans. His people are the kind who don't just go to every one of his frequent shows, but also rack up ridiculous bar tabs buying an elephant-killing amount of alcohol for themselves, their friends (the ones they came with and the new ones they just made that night) and the musicians. These folks are the pure lifeblood of live music whose red carpet has lifted acts like Lucero and American Aquarium to such prominence. Woods' stop this time (May 1, Will's Pub) was a relatively rare full-band appearance with a quartet that brought lots of complementary atmosphere and horsepower to his blend of defiant spirit and traditional soul.
Opening for Woods, with only banjo and guitar, Gainesville's Big Shoals showed this arrangement's capability for real folk majesty. Even as just a string duo, they stroked fully, beautifully rendered sonic landscapes with their cinematic brand of Americana. Theirs is an authentic vein that has seriousness of emotion, depth of soul and precision of melody. It's the quintessence of Southern grace, and it was the best surprise of the night.