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Wilco – Orlando Concert Review

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Wilco at Hard Rock Orlando. Photo Credit: Edwin Makon-Morales

Wilco Impresses Hard Rock Live Fans

Illinois natives WILCO stopped by Tuesday to grace the Hard Rock with rock and twang, the mellow and explosive stylings of the group led by Jeff Tweedy had a big night planned for Orlando.

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Opening act ROYAL THUNDER started off the night with their rock revival style harrowing Joen Jett in a modern twist. Lead woman Minny Parsonz covered the room in loud riffs and piercing vocals as the crowd mingled around the bar and slowly filled into the venue. Royal Thunder protrude rock out of every orifice. Well done yet they have yet to make it their own, give them a bit more time and and perhaps another album. Big sound mixed with big attitude, Royal Thunder sound like the band in your neighbors garage that should be playing the Hard Rock. Good thing they got out.

The first band ended and I made a lap around the venue, The Hard Rock is a beautiful place, swanky and expensive, but still able to promote itself as a rock venue with history. Wilco took the stage with might. The crowd was mostly older, thirty plus, mostly due to the $50 tickets and the tuesday night during finals week. But the crowd was active, devoted fans, most had probably been fans since ‘95’s A.M.

Wilco at Hard Rock Orlando. Photo Credit :Edwin Makon-Morales
Wilco at Hard Rock Orlando. Photo Credit: Edwin Makon-Morales

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Starting the night off with A Ghost is Born’s opening track, At Least That’s What You Said, a perfect soft opening into the crash and screech of the guitar work and multi layered ending that left the room in a dizzy state of excitement. The show had begun, the room finally settling in for the ride. They played Red-Eyed and Blue and I Got You(End of a Century), both off their second album exhibiting the great mix of albums they withheld throughout the show. Tweedy whistling towards the rafters filled with fans and critics alike.

Wilco is able to progress yet hold onto to their style and sound. The wide array of music spread across their discography is always inheritably Wilco, yet we can sense the difference in even Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born. The themes and song configurations are all traits of Tweedy that will always exist but the execution and delivery is different, the stylings have progressed. Always evolving and re casting in the mold of alcohol and Chicago.

The live performance of Wilco is casual, yet perfected. They are able to blend all aspect of their catalogue into the show. A.M.’s searching southern twang is heard throughout the song, but the cosmic guitar freakouts of A Ghost is Born isn’t lost when playing SummerTeeth tracks. Most significantly is Via Chicago, when during the dreamlike verse, the other members of the band rapidly explode into a crashing tyrant, as Tweedy stands calmly strumming and singing his song that has been washed out by the noise.

The setlist for the night was perfectly paced and the setlist flowed across all albums, even the Mermaid Ave that Billy Bragg had adapted with Wilco of unpublished Woody Guthrie songs. The newest Album, The Whole Love, was played and well received by old and new fans alike. The standout track of the album being The Art of Almost, a driving psychedelic daydream that is the progression I mentioned earlier. This track is distinguishable from the most wilco songs, yet the album is layered with different sounds. Showing the band has grown, yet been able to cultivate the sound that started them. Later in the night, they performed another track of the newest album, Born Alone, which echo’s SummerTeeth Wilco. The ability to adapt to the change and master the tried and true is what makes Wilco a standout band, both live and in the studio.

Wilco at Hard Rock Orlando. Photo Credit :Edwin Makon-Morales
Wilco at Hard Rock Orlando. Photo Credit: Edwin Makon-Morales

I’d like to add to this, that if you haven’t seen Wilco live yet know them, you will be happy to know that Tweedy’s live vocals are as haunting and hallowed live as the album recordings. Able to sing at low decibels in moments of vulnerability, then scream out his frustrations in the times of anger and climax. May the vocals of Jeff Tweedy stay strong, I hope to hear five more albums from this glorious band.

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Wilco ended the night with a double encore. The first being traditional, while the latter was a grand surprise. The stage crew brought out a small drum set and the members played unplugged with two guitars, a lap steel guitar, banjo and melodica. The started with a cover of the old band of Tweedy and bass player John Stirratt called Uncle Tupelo. They followed with a Doug Sahm cover and ending with the beautifully haunting Being There track, Misunderstood. With Tweedy and the crowd chanting together, “I’d like to thank you all for nothing, nothing, nothing.”

Andrew Corbit

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Florida Music Festival Thoughts


 
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FMF Highlights

It was a last minute thing, but I finally got to see my first Florida Music Festival, and I’m so happy that I experienced my first taste of it.

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The festival has been entertaining Orlando music fans for fifteen years, celebrating local and indie music, and bringing some much needed culture to our city, but somehow, I never really knew much about it. This time, I literally got my invite a few days before, and had to squeeze in my festival time around previous commitments Thursday night and all day Saturday, but it was well worth it, because in the eight hours I was there, I was exposed to a plethora of fantastic new music.

The festival boasts some excellent industry events including compelling keynote speakers, special events and workshops, but for this year at least, I had to limit my participation to the musical showcases. With 125 artists packed into the three days, I had plenty of interesting, talented options to choose from.

Jonnie Morgan Band Florida Music Festival
Jonnie Morgan Band at Florida Music Festival

Here are a few of my personal highlights:

  • Best Bands:
    • Blaine The Mono – I always enjoy these talented Orlando rockers and just love Randi Stickles vocals.  Thier impromptu set-up on the floor of Bullitt Bar made this set just a bit more intimate, too.
    • Magazine Society – This Miami band played in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater in the Annual Florida Grammy Showcase and stole the show. They were energetic and polished live and had an excellent sound.
    • Magic City Hippies – They brought their distinctive beach flair down from South Florida and dished out an engaging and unique blend of rock, blues and ska that left me thirsting for more.
    • Gary Lazer Eyes – This quartet from the Melbourne/Orlando area was my favorite new discovery. Their unique approach to rock music boasts a heavy reggae vibe that’s just a blast to listen and move to.
    • Jonnie Morgan Band – The Orlando seven-piece squeezed into Side Show and delivered a raucous set punctuated by an electric three piece brass section, and highlighted by Morgan climbing up on a counter and practically singing from the sidewalk.
  • Favorite Venue – My first trip into the Dr. Phillips Center’s Pugh Theatre was wonderful. The acoustics and sightlines were perfect in the cozy theater where they held the Grammy Showcase.  I also LOVED the Wall Street set-up with two rotating stages bracketing the bars and party-goers inside.
  • Best Bargain – the musical showcases were FREE!  125 bands for zero dollars? That’s just unheard of these days and an absolutely amazing deal for local music fans.  Kudos to Coors Light, the Downtown Development Board and JetBlue for making that happen.
  • The FMF Staff and Volunteers – I spoke to at least a dozen folks working the show and every single one of them was happy, gracious and patient.  They took an excellent well-run event and made it just a little bit better.
  • Most Dynamic Performer – Alex Baugh of The Crazy Carls just drips with charisma. Although, their music was not my favorite at the festival, Baugh is a captivating front man who demands attention… constantly…
  • Lemonade – Kudos to The Jonnie Morgan Band for taking a rough situation and making the best of it.  They were unexpectedly moved from the Main Stage onto the tiny stage at Side Show and still delivered a great set. They squeezed in, improvised, smiled and kicked ass.
  • Lemons – The Noise Ordinance issues that sent Jonnie Morgan inside also cost me and a nice showing of fans the chance to see Kasson take the stage Thursday night. Silver lining is that they got to close that stage out on Friday night. The noise issues need to be resolved in future years.
Magazine Society - FMF Grammy Showcase Winners
Magazine Society – FMF Grammy Showcase Winners

We have event photos posted on our Facebook page. Check them out, and do us a big favor and Like the page while you’re visiting:  Day 1  |  Day 2  | Blaine The Mono

It was really a fantastic experience, and I’m still bummed out that I basically only caught half of the festival, but there’s no doubt that I’ll be on board for the full festival in 2016!

Rock On!
Cretin

 

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

 

OK Go Impresses In Orlando


 

OK Go at The Beacham in Oralndo - RARAsFArm.com
OK Go at The Beacham in Oralndo – RARAsFArm.com

OK Go Delivers a Show To Remember

Over the past dozen years, they’ve only released four albums, including their excellent recent release, Hungry Ghosts. While OK Go has not exactly poured out non-stop new music, they have churned out an amazing number of ingenious high quality videos.

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There’s been a tremendous buzz around OK Go and their innovative and captivating videos, highlighted by their 2007 Grammy Award winning video for “Here It Goes Again,” and I’ve heard that they offered up an excellent live show, but until their show at The Beacham late last week, I’d never had the chance to experience it.

Simply put, this talented quartet offers up an amazing live experience that I will never miss again. I see 100 artists per year, and have witnessed a slew of kick ass concerts, but I have never seen anything like the multi-sensory extravaganza that this band dishes out. Videos, technology, live footage, special effects, audience participation, three trombones and confetti – lots of confetti.

The show kicked off with a montage of movie and TV scenes with characters speaking “OK” and “Go,” culminating with Kermit the Frog’s “OK Go” and the show was off. The band kicked into “Upside Down & Inside Out” which along with “You’re So Damn Hot” was played with the foursome hiding behind a semi-transparent video screen plastered with a collage of band member photos and psychedelic images. It was a cool twist for sure, but the crowd was excited when the curtain finally dropped before “The Writing On The Wall.”

And, that’s when the confetti started. Two huge cannons flanked the stage and filled the air frequently. There was literally an inch of confetti on the ground by the end of the show, not to mention in 90% of my photos, in my mouth, in my hair and inside my clothes.

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Damien Kulash of OK Go at The Beacham in Oralndo - RARAsFArm.com
Damien Kulash of OK Go at The Beacham in Oralndo – RARAsFArm.com

Before “I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe,” frontman Damian Kulash welcomed the crowd, and reminded us that on his last visit to the city he ended up sleeping in a jail cell. Then, he held a quick Q&A with the fans – something he repeated again late in the show and an item that bassist Tim Nordwind took a turn at, as well. It was great stuff, and we got a priceless glimpse at the humorous improvisational talents the two lifelong friends shared. We learned that they met at summer camp nearly 30 years ago, that Kulash was arrested for ignoring an undercover female cop with a bad sense of humor, and that broccoli and olives have no place on an OK Go pizza.

I loved the nerdiest part of the show, which was another very cool audience participation moment, but I’ll let you all experience that for yourselves, and not spill the beans about it here. Other highlights included an invigorating singalong version of “This Too Shall Pass” and the dual guitar fronted “Get Over It” where keyboardist/guitarist Andy Ross joined Kulash for dual solos. Kulash also journeyed into the crowd for a nice acoustic version of “Last Leaf.” And, late in the set, the quartet cranked out a rocking cover version of “Black Dog, where drummer Dan Konopka wonderfully channeled the spirit of John Bonham. (The full setlist is provided below)

For their encore, it was another fantastic excursion into their fertile minds. We saw a video montage, a choreographed dance number, two tracks with the members of Bonerama (three trombone players) joining them on stage, and a frenetic finale of “Here It Hoes Again” that include a few dozen audience members joining them on stage.

Absolute genius, and a show that any music fans needs to see.

Rock On!
Cetin

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Setlist
Upside Down & Inside Out
You’re So Damn Hot
The Writing’s On the Wall
I Want You So Bad I Can’t Breathe
Obsession
This Too Shall Pass
There’s a Fire
Last Leaf
Needing/Getting
I’m Not Through
Get Over It
The One Moment
I Won’t Let You Down
Do What You Want
Black Dog (Led Zeppelin cover)
Turn Up the Radio

Encore:
Fake It
A Million Ways
White Knuckles
Skyscrapers (with Bonerama)
Here It Goes Again (with Bonerama)

Gasparilla Music Festival Exceeds Expectations

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Check out more pix from the event here: Gasparilla Music Festival Photos

GASPARILLA MUSIC FESTIVAL

Beautiful downtown Tampa was the scene for a day of music and picturesque weather for this year’s Gasparilla Music Festival.

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BANDS REVIEWED
The Hip Abduction
UNRB
Saskatchewan
Roadkill Ghost Choir
Mutemath
Dumpstaphunk
The Gaslight Anthem
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Modest Mouse

The first thing I noticed about this year’s festival was how prepared and together it was. It seemed that all had been taken into account for the weekend. Stepping through the gate into Curtis Hixon Park there was an apparent conscience of space. Of the festivals I’ve been to, Gasparilla has the most palpable arrangement. The two major stages are separated by a short walk and two flights of short stairs. This difference in elevation gives each stage its own area, no bleeding over from the other stages interrupting the experience of any one band.

Outside of the usual cliché Florida tourist art, there were a number of vendors who were of the professional level. Artists and sculptors who were spotted in the vending areas were diamonds in the rough, but if you were to peruse long enough, any potential customer could be surprised with something truly unique.

Wandering around alone, waiting for my photographer and others to join me, I came upon my first act of the festival. THE HIP ABDUCTION took the stage and surrounding area with an air of dance and reggae undeniable to even myself, who tends to stray away from the inheritable happy styles of music. I danced my way near the front surprised by the band’s composition. The stage was pale, yet had as much soul as any. Echoing islands’ shores and a lack of any and all cares. THE HIP ABDUCTION were a perfect introduction to my Gasparilla music experience. At ease and ready for where the night should lead me.

I wandered about the park a little more, found myself on top of raised rows of bench seats overlooking the park where I could see it in its entirety. The spotted and towering building seemingly encasing us inside the Music. Laughs and shrieks of joy wafting about the park, Gasparilla does not attempt to rival the larger festivals, it creates a proportionate dose of a scenic location, a well selected array of talent and a feeling of something great happening with you amongst it.

The next act I made a point to see was UNRB, a seven piece band from St. Petersburg, Florida. My interest was sparked by the size of the band and the use of an electric ukulele instead of a guitar, based around a four piece horn section.

UNRB have presence, with the bass, drums and Ukulele giving direction and the horn section driving the performance above and beyond. The crowd was at attention at the start of each song, yet seemed to lose spark throughout, coming to at the end for the outro. I should say this for myself, I am not a fan of Ska or Reggae, yet there was something undeniable about a four horn section blasting along with a ukulele. UNRB had panache, and I liked that.

Wandering again, I realized how small the park was, or what was accessible. I cannot stress how well designed the setup is. After a pork taco, which was delicious, from the food stands, I took to walk by each stage, waiting to be picked up and carried to the next show I would enjoy.

A dreamy 80’s sound caught me, turned into a nightmare droll and dropped before me – SASKATCHEWAN. It seems that a piece of how the 80’s lo-fi was supposed to sound survived, it takes the form of four awkward musicians from Orlando. The air was taken, and replaced with groove, then growing into a sporadic synth wave. It recedes into an obscure chant that mirrors the odd surrealist band that plays the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. Laura Palmer would have loved doing drugs to these guys.

Saskatchewan have the ability to blend with current popular styles and create a sound of their own. I believe that these guys could headline this festival with two more albums. My first recommendation to listen to now, SASKATCHEWAN turn that sulk and sorrow into a dreamy lucid bike ride.

My photographer made it out and was admitted easily with help from festival staff, a testament to how well run Gasparilla is. It glides upon well-constructed and greased tracks. A wonderful experience, since I’ve had problems with communication and shared information in other shows I’ve reviewed. We made our way to ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR and a sense of happening was around. The festival was in full swing and everyone in attendance was moving happily with it.

Roadkill Ghost Choir at Gasparilla Music Festival
Roadkill Ghost Choir at Gasparilla Music Festival. Photo by Edwin Makon Morales

ROADKILL GHOST CHOIR is a powerful indie-rock-southern-shoegaze band from Orlando that has recently made a move in both location and success. With the release of last year’s In Tongues, as well as playing Letterman, RKGC have made great strides. They possess an undeniable southern charm with a back alley grit mixed with quiet pines. These Florida natives held the crowd before them as well as the mixing masses around the stage. Beer lines moved to the beat and patrons passing by couldn’t help but walk in step to the rhythm. I recommend any and all to take a gander at this on-the-rise band; you will surely not be disappointed.

The sun began to drop down little by little and I followed the crowd across the park to the main stage. GMF projections danced across the buildings near the park, the day drinkers stumbled and the night kids lights were turning on one by one. MUTEMATH started with the drummer taping headphones to his head with thick tape and I knew something good was taking place.

Mutemath at Gasparilla Music Festival
Mutemath at Gasparilla Music Festival. Photo by Edwin Makon Morales

MUTEMATH is an old flame for me, I enjoyed them in length at a younger age yet fell out a few years back. I had seen MUTEMATH at a northern Florida festival two years prior and was amazed by their live energy and showmanship. My expectations were high. The men of MUTEMATH were well dressed and well-rehearsed, controlling the crowd with a blend of songs and beat driven synth breaks that had any and all bodies moving in unison. A wide base of fans as well, some sang along to the newest songs and swayed to older ones, while others like me belted out the first albums and hummed the newest tunes. This is progression, keeping old fans happy while cultivating new fans with each album released. Beside the music, they possessed a real sense of performance as well as a choreographed motion. Jostling about the stage in a rehearsed yet seemingly sporadic manner. They are at place on the stage, perhaps having the best time of anyone there. Some bands cannot be fully appreciated until they are witnessed live, MUTEMATH is like this, as well as MODEST MOUSE, but they are another story. Finishing with an encore of the song that started it for them, MUTEMATH and the packed crowd crooned “Typical” and the night was upon us.

I crossed the park again, taking in the sights and smells of a festival, and all around pleased with Gasparilla Music Festival. Came upon the proverbial group of college students playing hacky-sac, joined them for a moment. Then bought a cup of overpriced and over sugared lemonade for $5, drank it too fast and made my way to DUMPSTAPHUNK, not prepared for what was in store.

DUMPSTAPHUNK are a dirty funk and bass band from the sweet big easy, New Orleans. With two bass players and a non-stop drum monster, they possess a groove and grind that is undeniable. Long bouts of enviable funk that led to a rock chorus belted with a fiery guitar solo to smolder back into the underlying funk groove that never ends. I have not been back to New Orleans in a few years, and it was as if The Big Easy had been delivered. Raunchy funk infused with debauchery, Dumpstaphunk was a Cajun fueled release for this panhandle native. I wanted crawfish etouffee, I wanted a fish bowl and a walk through the French Quarter. I had two bass players and a groove that could have carried me there with ease, so I enjoyed the ride. I finally allowed myself a drink, the sun had gone down and the moon was out.

Gaslight Anthem at Gasparilla Music Festival
Gaslight Anthem at Gasparilla Music Festival. Photo by Edwin Makon Morales

Making my way back across the park to the main stage again, I was engulfed into the moving tide towards THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM. I had surprisingly never heard one song from them, yet I seemed to be the only one. I joined in the excitement that surrounded me and made my way with it. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM channel their New Jersey roots with a mix of Bruce Springsteen and the guttural vocal styling’s similar to later AGAINST ME! A blend of Pop-punk with an occasional twist and shout, then a crawling ballad enticing lighters and cell phone screens as everyone sang along to “Great Expectations.” For some reason it blended like AGAINST ME! and THE KILLERS. The lead singer had the crowd sing Happy Birthday to a young boy named Eddie, and he was the happiest kid in the area code. I saw the accessibility of the band, and how so many could love them. Perhaps due to my first experience being a live show, yet I couldn’t shake the comparison. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM have a spiritual sound, I remembered a youth trip to a Christian retreat, the band playing major chords as everyone raised their voice in praise. I felt that again. The communion of others led by a heartbroken band, I felt the manifestation of a higher connection with those that surrounded me. THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM took me to church, yet as church always seems to do. It ran a bit longer than the feeling.

I scraped and crawled from within the depths of the crowd anticipating MODEST MOUSE to make my way back across the park for DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. A dance party I just had to attend.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. were the band that I had yet to truly hear but anticipated. Coming from THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM and the wonderful surprise they had been, I was ready for whatever followed. This power synth odd pop duo are a sight to be heard! Seamlessly blending the dance theme in an indie vibe. Un-deniable music ensues and the crowd was thick, and since they were sharing time with the headliners MODEST MOUSE that is a very big compliment. DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. share a number of things with the man their name is a satire of. They possess an inherent power that should lead them to success. Perhaps the most notable remarkable aspect of this power duo is the stage presence they carry. Bounding energy that led the crowd with remarkable strength, DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR. leading the pack and taking to the outside. Keep an eye on these guys.

I got out of the pit and made moves toward my final show of the night, MODEST MOUSE! My main interest of the day and long standing obsession. For me personally, I will always be a Fruit that Ate Itself, or Lonesome Crowded West kind of guy. The last few albums from these humble mice have seemed to progress in an off kilter, apathetic stream of music that strokes the forgiving fan base they cultivated with the first seven albums. Yet, they are a band that is unlike any other. Two drummers and a cast of multi-instrumentalist that have complete control of their sound. The crowd was frothing with anticipation and the show began.

Isaac Brock, head mouse king, led the others with a sense of entitlement. Blasting old favorites like “Dramamine,” “Doin the Cockroach” and even the Ugly Casanova track, “Here’s to Now.” They also debuted two new songs from their upcoming release “Strangers to Ourselves.” Starting the show with the live debut of “Of Course We Know.” They also premiered “The Ground Walks, With Time in a Box,” and “Shit in your Cut.” Good news for MODEST MOUSE was the crowd’s reaction to the single off the album, “Lampshades on Fire.” They also visited they’re most successful album GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE BAD NEWS, playing six songs off the album. Limited to one encore due to sound restraints, they finished the night with “A Different City.” The festival emptied into the streets of downtown Tampa full of joy and satisfaction.

The Gasparilla Music Festival was a weekend of great music in a perfect setting. I’ll have post Gasparilla blues for a week or so. If you have the way, make a plan to get out to next year’s Gasparilla Music Festival. It is an experience to begin your Florida spring off in the best way.

Check out more pix from the event here: Gasparilla Music Festival Photos

Andrew Corbit

Make sure you Like our Facebook and/or Follow our Twitter for our Gasparilla Music Festival Photos.

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Echosmith Puts Their Young Talent on Display

Sydney and Noah Sierota of Echosmith at The Social Orlando
Sydney and Noah Sierota of Echosmith at The Social Orlando

Echosmith Concert Review

Half of this band is still in high school, and until a few months ago, none of these four siblings could legally grab a drink. Still, Echosmith has managed to quickly establish themselves as a pop rock band just dripping with rock star potential and worthy of being on your Alt-Rock radar.

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(See a link for photos and the setlist below the review)

These four musicians are talented professionals honing their craft in front of packed rooms filled with dedicated (typically young) fans. As I witnessed Friday night, they still offer a few glimpses of their youthful and developing stage presence, but it is abundantly clear that they are all already becoming seasoned performers. The sold out Social in downtown Orlando was the perfect venue, offering the band and their fans to get close in an intimate environment.

17 year-old Sydney, the lead vocalist is the pretty focal point commanding center stage, but all three brothers were engaging and entertaining, as well. 16 year-old Graham on drums is the youngest, and decked out in his fedora cap, was steady all night. Jamie at 21, is the elder statesman and dished out vintage guitar riffs throughout the show, while nineteen year-old bassist Noah bounced around the stage constantly.

Many of Jamie’s guitar riffs were reminiscent of the 80’s rock that I grew up listening to, including more than a few of which reminded me fondly of the unique stylings of Echo & The Bunnymen’s Will Sergeant. It’s clear that these relatively young musicians have a strong 80’s influence, as they also chose to cover New Order and Talking Heads. The Heads’ selection, “This Must Be the Place,” was creatively re-imagined and one of the early set highlights and a creative choice for a cover song.

The focus of their set was music they’ve written themselves, primarily off of their recent release Talking Dreams. The title track was a poppy rocker that found Sydney dancing around under a parasol. My favorite track from the album was “Safest Place” which had strong, hard-driving bass and drums, and featured an excellent guitar solo from Jamie. Additionally, the raw “Tell Her You Love Her” was a nice opportunity for Sydney to share her vocal range, on a song that eventually meandered into a nice crowd singalong.

The band interacted with the crowd all night, and seemed comfortable doing so. They pulled their grandfather and Lauren, a young fan from the crowd, onto stage to fete them with “Happy Birthday;” grabbed a selfie with the crowd as Noah slipped into a quick snippet from “Uptown Funk” and then really offered up a special moment during the playing of their new single “Bright.” Sydney stopped half way through the song and pulled up Kristen and her fantastically surprised girlfriend, Shelby. Kristen dropped to a knee, Shelby said ‘Yes’ and the band, huddled together, serenaded them with an a capella chorus. A very nice touch!

Jamie and Graham Sierota of Echosmith at The Social Orlando
Jamie and Graham Sierota of Echosmith at The Social Orlando

They closed the set with a highly interactive version of “Cool Kids,” and then for the encore, offered up “Bizarre Love Triangle,” the New Order cover. However, it was stripped down as I never imagined, and was an entirely different song – a different version that would have made Hook and Sumner proud. They kicked it up a notch and delivered a fun version of “Nothing Wrong” to close the show.

I left The Social feeling excited for this band. They still have some maturing to do as a band, but they have plenty of time to get there. In the meantime, they’re offering entertaining, original music and delivering passionate performances that should keep their fans happy for years.

See our photos from the show on our Facebook Page (and Like Us while you’re there)

Rock On!
Cretin

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Setlist:

Ran Off in the Night
Let’s Love
Come Together
Talking Dreams
Safest Place
This Must Be the Place (Talking Heads cover)
Tell Her You Love Her
Bright
Come With Me
Surround You
Uptown Funk snippet
We’re Not Alone
Cool Kids

Encore:
Bizarre Love Triangle (New Order cover)
Nothing’s Wrong

Against Me! Rocks Orlando

Laura Jane Grace of Against Me in Orlando
Laura Jane Grace of Against Me in Orlando

Against Me! Concert Review

Seven years ago, I saw Against Me! tearing up the Amway Center opening for Green Day. Since that powerful night of aggressive alt-rock, the quartet has gone through an immense transition, but through it all, Laura Jane Grace and her bandmates have retained the same energetic thrashing style that drives passionate support from their rabid fans.

Make sure you Like RARAsFarm’s Facebook Page and Follow us on Twitter for rock music coverage, including a bunch of concert photos from this show.

 

Watching Laura Jane Grace on stage, you see a ferocious rocker who is at peace with where she is headed in her life. With a constant smile plastered to her face, she commanded the stage and had the fans offering up their unconditional appreciation.

The atmosphere in the Beacham Theatre was electric as the band took the stage. The crowd was as diverse as you’ll see at an Orlando event. A mix of heavily tattooed punk rockers, a myriad of fans from the LGBT community, business men and teen girls dotted the audience, many sporting Florida Equality stickers.

Grace and the band took the stage to a rousing welcome and immediately leapt into an explosive “True Trans Soul Rebel.” The track was one of many from the fantastic 2014 release, Transgender Dysphoria Blue, the album that finished atop our 2014 Albums of the Year feature.

Although we heard numerous cuts from that album, we were also treated to a great variety from across the band’s diverse catalogue. Early on Grace offered “We’re playing some songs on this tour we haven’t played in awhile,” and she was true to her word, as the 20+ song set featured music from every stage of the band’s life cycle.

Longtime guitarist James Bowman is still a hard-driving rock to Grace’s left and dished out punk-infused riffs throughout the show. Drummer Atom Willard and Inge Johansson dished out solid rhythm all night. Johansson shined, bouncing around the stage, rhythmically clapping with the crowd and generally having a blast. But, the band is all about Laura Jane Grace, and she was on top of her game this evening. She was fun, raw, engaging and at times humorous, “This guitar doesn’t play well, but it looks great.”

Highlights from the set included two tracks off of Transgender Dysphoria Blues, a killer version of “Unconditional” which Grace introduced with “This song is about self-respect.” And a song she said “is about fighting back,” “Fuck My Life 666.” Some of the earlier cuts that shined on this night included “Don’t Lose Touch,” “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” and a fantastic version of “Black Me Out.”

Laura Jane Grace of Against Me in Orlando
Laura Jane Grace of Against Me in Orlando

The crowd became progressively more energetic as the night wore on and for a handful of songs, turned the floor into a raucous pit with bodies flying as frequently as beer cups. The mixed crowd had a collective blast, dancing, screaming, clapping and re-bonding with Grace. It was clear that this relationship still works exceptionally well.

For the encore, it was just Grace and her guitar for the first few songs. She whispered, “Thanks, this is fun, really fucking fun” and then kicked into “Baby I’m An Anarchist” which quickly became a spirited singalong. Offering up a song for “old and new friends,” she put an acoustic spin on “Thrash Unreal” with the band joining her midway for a rousing and powerful finish, before they wrapped up the night with a smoking version of “We Laugh At Danger (and Break All the Rules).”

Laura Jane Grace is indeed breaking all of the rules and transitioning to a place in her life where she seems much more at peace. It’s a good place for her, and just as importantly for the many satisfied fans in attendance.

Rock On!
Cretin

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Super Bob Delivers Fun Rock Set to Orlando

Matt Santoro of Super Bob in Orlando
Matt Santoro of Super Bob in Orlando

Super Bob Rocks Orlando

“We’re a live, in your face freak show.” – Matt Santoro, Super Bob

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I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as many tattoos and piercings on stage at one time, but I can tell you with certainty, that it’s even more rare to see a rock act deliver such a fun, engaging and energetic show.

Super Bob is a hard-working quartet out of Virginia who pour their hearts and souls into their uber-entertaining thrill-ride of an hour-long set. According to dynamic front man Matt Santoro, the hyperactive foursome rip through 250+ shows per year.

Santoro, a quiet, humble gentleman off-stage is a frenetic, active madman behind the mic. He was engaging all night and quickly bonded with the crowd. “We’re here to have a good time!” The crowd roared and he knowingly replied “We’re gonna get along fine,” and the party was on.

The band members were whirling dervishes flying across the stage, but clearly a tight, choreographed unit. Bassist Drew Recny is a theatrical performer who dishes out pristine bass riffs as he incessantly bounced around, swapping spots with Adam Smith, an entertaining guitarist with an infectious style and smile. Chris Faircloth kept the band tight on drums and is equally entertaining, doling out distinctive drums, punctuated with assorted stick tricks.

Adam Smith of Super Bob in Orlando
Adam Smith of Super Bob in Orlando

The music was industrial tinged, hard-edged dance rock, and the show was a fantastic spectacle. Highlights from the set included an electrifying “Superfly,” a song that Santoro attributed to a guy names Super Dave, a raucous version of “Freak” and a fun singalong version of “Fuck California.” Several times throughout the show, Santoro fondly mentioned local rockers Traverser who brought Super Bob to town to support their CD release party a year ago. “We were going to play one cover from Traverser, but their music is as hard as a math problem, so we’re not gonna play it.”

But they did play one cover, and it was a clear crowd favorite, as they put their own spin on an American dance classic, “Sexy And I Know It” by LMFAO. I asked Santoro why that song? “It’s the only cover we’ve ever done. My voice is kind of my voice and I have trouble singing other people’s songs, so any song that we were going to cover had to be pretty easy. It’s not hard vocally, plus we wanted to change it and that was a candidate for really being able to change. We made it a lot heavier and a lot different.”

“Covers are covers.” offered Santoro, “Why take a great song and then play that great song, because you’re probably not as good as the performers who recorded that great song? We always thought the best covers are like when Manson did “Sweet Dreams” or Limp Bizkit did “Faith.” Bands like that take a cover song, and then they make it their own unique song, and we wanted to do that.” And, they did. They made it their own, and it blended into their set fantastically.

“We have a brand new record coming out March 3rd and we just released a new video last week for a song called “Killer.” We didn’t catch “Killer” on this night, but we did hear “Captain Crunch,” another new song from their soon to be released ten song full-length. Santoro did note that they’d be adding about six new songs to their setlist in March.

The back story to the recording of the album was quite interesting. Per Santoro, “We’ve been working on it for two years because we are on the road so much. When we started, our producer lived in Pompano Beach, then be moved to Madison, Wisconsin. So now, we tour up to Madison, spend a few days in the studio, tour in the area, record for a few more days then head back out… he met us at a house in the middle of nowhere, Illinois… he met us in Myrtle at a house we rented there… we just brought him wherever we were going.” The album will be released on March 3rd, and we expect to have a review right here for you then.

The opening acts in the Maniacal Mojo production, all from the Sunshine State, were engaging in their own right. We caught hard rocking bands Breathing Theory and Before The Fire, who both delivered powerful sets. Joshua Poullion of Before The Fire tore it up on stage and literally, probably tore up his broken arm.

Our favorite local pop rock band, A Brilliant Lie delivered some excellent rock, powered by their three guitar set-up. Speaking to talented vocalist Tara Lightfoot before the show, she noted that they’ll be working on some new music in the very near future, as well. We can assure you that we’ll be all over that coverage when it happens.

But as good as the opening acts were, this night was focused on the foursome from Virginia. I’ve seen hundreds of bands over the past decade and these guys are one of the most entertaining acts I’ve come across during that time. I strongly recommended checking them out any time they’re in your area.

Drew Recny of Super Bob in Orlando
Drew Recny of Super Bob in Orlando

I’ll leave you with one quote from the stage that perfectly captures the beauty of Super Bob “Rock and roll is about two things; first it’s about having fun, and more importantly, it’s about being yourself!” These fantastically talented musicians epitomize that philosophy perfectly.

(See our show photos on our Facebook Page, but only if you promise to Like Us while you’re there :))

Rock On!
Cretin

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Kongos Impress Orlando

Kongos Orlando Concert Review

When your father preaches “Only thing I can say to you is ‘You gotta be good and you gotta be true,’ and you respond by creating the unique, distinctive brand of rock ‘n roll that the Kongos brothers deliver to their fans, you’ve definitely made your dad proud, while simultaneously impressing rock fans across the world.

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Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando
Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando

(Below the story, make sure you check out our show photos from the RARAsFarm Facebook page and the night’s setlist.)

A few years ago, when I first heard the powerful, tribal-infused rock music from this talented foursome, I thought Kongos was a perfectly fitting name for this band with distinctive South African roots. As it turns out, Kongos was actually the last name for these four tremendously talented brothers.

Their father John Kongos had a few hits in the 70s, including “Tokoloshe Man” from which the aforementioned lyrics came from. As we saw last week at the raucous Beacham Theatre in Orlando, his four sons inherited fantastic musical talent and are just dripping with rock star potential.

Their show on this night was electric and fresh and the enthused fans at The Beacham soaked it in. The music is different – different in a deliciously fresh, yet classically comfortable way. The Phoenix-based quartet have South African roots, were raised in a household filled with classical music, and several of the brothers are formally trained jazz musicians. The result? Four immensely talented rockers with a unique and powerful brand of rock music.

They took the stage to tribal music and jumped into a rollicking “Hey I Don’t Know,” featuring drummer Jesse on lead vocals. It was quickly apparent that Kongos are driven by their distinctive rhythm section. Bassist Dylan creatively teamed with Jesse’s polyrhythmic playing throughout the show. It’s a unique approach and on this night it provided a great canvas for the band’s music. Dylan took over lead vocals on the next track, “Sex On The Radio” and the two traded-off lead duties all night, with guitarist Daniel and Keyboardist Johnny providing nice harmonies.

Like both of the excellent opening acts, Sir Sly and Colony House, the band played next door at The Social just last year. On this tour, they headlined the much larger Beacham and if this night was an indication, I expect we’ll see them playing larger venues in the very near future. Their sound is big, heavy and attention-grabbing, and well-suited for arenas.

The foursome clearly feed off of each other and work together… well… like brothers. While their live sound was superb and is already top notch, they still have some maturing to do as a headlining act, but that’s only a matter of time. These guys are destined for great things on the rock music scene.

Daniel dished out staccato guitar riffs that reminded me at times of The Clash, other times of early reggae and still others hard driving rockers. As an example of their multi-instrumentalist abilities, Daniel and Dylan traded off instruments a few times throughout the show. On “Kids These Days,” and a handful of other songs, the band offered a unique rock ‘n roll twist with Johnny playing a captivating accordion.

Highlights from the set included crowd favorite “Take Me Back,” which is a huge drum-powered stadium rocker, and the antithesis, “Traveling On” which Dylan introduced with “One of the advantages of headlining a tour is the ability to play some of our slower songs.” It sounded great, and added nice balance to the well-constructed 90 minute set. “It’s a Good Life,” was a zippy journey with a South African flair, punctuated by killer accordion, that had the crowd engaged throughout, and “I Don’t Mind” featured great keyboards from Johnny.

Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando
Kongos Live at The Beacham Orlando

Their two biggest hits “Come With Me Now” and “I’m Only Joking” were embraced by the fervid crowd, which probably hit its most frenetic point during “Come With Me Now.” My personal favorite was a Beatles cover. It’s the song they played a dozen years ago when they hit the stage for the first time in a high school talent show. They performed “Eleanor Rigby” as you’ve never heard it before – a special reggae-laced version with a brief rap interlude where one of their stage hands jumped out and offered a cool little rap. Great stuff!

For their encore, they closed with a tribute to their father, a cover version of his aforementioned hit “Tokoloshe Man,” and a smoking (literally) version of “Blue Monday,” which leaned much more towards the hard-driving Orgy take than New Order’s more famous dance version. Check out our photos for a shot of the cool smoke rings they fired over the crowd throughout the song.  Definitely, a powerful, exciting end to a fantastic show.

To see a little glimpse into the show, check out our show photos here.

Rock On!
Cretin

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

Setlist
Hey I Don’t Know
Sex on the Radio
Kids These Days
Escape
I Don’t Mind
Take Me Back
It’s a Good Life.
Traveling slow
This Time I Won’t Forget
Come With Me Now
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
Take Me Back
It’s a Good Life
I Want to Know
Take It from Me
I’m Only Joking
Encore:
Tokoloshe Man (John Kongos cover)
Blue Monday (New Order cover)