Day One of the 2016 Florida Music Festival is in the books, and once again the producers of the festival have put together an entertaining and diverse line-up. I love attending festivals like FMF and discovering new music and on Thursday night, I discovered two excellent new acts, and had the opportunity to see a few old favorites, and I’m looking froward to two more killer nights of free live music!
Two new bands capturing my attention were Brooklyn’s Dru Cutler and Orlando’s own Reverist – two young acts with extremely bright futures. I also caught strong sets from our favorite 2015 FMF find, Gary Lazer Eyes, as well as Blaine The Mono and Cocoa Beach’s Coastal Breed.
Several of the sets were at Cheyenne Saloon. It was my first visit to the beautiful club on Church Street, and I was pretty damn impressed by the room. It’s a classy place with excellent sound and a great set-up. Unfortunately, the early crowd was quite slim. Hopefully, we’ll see crowds spike over the weekend.
Gary Lazer got our night off to a rocking start. Led by dynamic front man, Austin Young, the band ripped through an invigorating 30 minute set, playing as though they were in front of a packed house. For local rock fans, the emotive Young is kicking off an intriguing Craft beer themed Acoustic open mic night at Side Bar this week.
The next act at Cheyenne was my early festival highlight. Dru Cutler, a Tampa native turned Brooklynite, delivered the most compelling set of the day. He’s a comfortable, engaging frontman just gushing with talent. His brand of rock is eclectic and intriguing and he just oozes charisma. It’s hard to compartmentalize his sound, but in an interview afterwards, we kind of agreed on Ryan Adams meets Pink Floyd, and his band included a kick ass electric cellist. We’ll have a full length interview with him in a few weeks, so make sure you follow our social networks to keep informed.
Blaine The Mono brought a nice crowd out with them and tore up the stage at Cheyenne with their gritty hard-edged rock, where guitarist Eric Joseph was a madman on stage.
The outdoor Wall Street stages had a nice crowd all night and featured a handful of entertaining artists, highlighted by the surf punk / island sounds of Coastal Breed. The foursome were tight, and delivered a distinctive sound that would be perfect for a rock club near the beach. The Jonnie Morgan band delivered one of the best moments of the night when they slipped in a snippet of Prince’s “Kiss” as a tribute to the legendary performer.
The last band I caught this night was Reverist and they may have stolen the day. The pop rock trio from Orlando have a very cool vibe and an intriguing sound. Frontman Omar Qazi has a distinctive voice and style, and pairs perfectly with the creatively unique drum stylings of Steve Addington. Bassist Matthew Walsh played a prominent role in the band and was a whirling dervish on stage. Their sound is uniquely and magnificently blended, and they’ll definitely be on my local music radar moving forward.
In addition to the aforementioned highlights, I caught about half a dozen other bands across the four venues I visited – some of whom I enjoyed and others who didn’t really move me. The beauty of the festival atmosphere is that there were always other options. Combine that fact with the free admission policy at all of the venues, and this is a can’t miss event Friday and Saturday.
Get out to the FMF Friday and Saturday and enjoy the excellent free music yourself.
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