Tag Archives: Orlando

Back Booth – Orlando Cool Coziness

I had a chance to check out BackBooth when Lovedrug bright their Wild Blood tour to Orlando recently.

The small club formerly in the UCF area is now located downtown on Pine Street just off of Orange.  The venue accommodates around 350 people and is a truly intimate place to see a show.  Despite the relative small size, they still get a good mix of national and local acts.

There are a few stools around the place, but it is generally a standing room kind of place, yet site lines are pretty good throughout.  There’s a riser towards the back of the room, and a small balcony, both offering nice views of the stage.

It’s a tight room and the sound mix is a bit of a challenge. Surprisingly, the sound was pretty good for the room configuration.  Not the best sound system you will find in the city, but more than adequate for this club. Overall, it is a great cozy place to see a show.  You’re never more than fifty feet from the stage, there’s always a clear view and the sound mix is decent.  Definitely a good place to catch a show and a cool crowd to spend a few hours with.

Offering about 20 diverse beers on tap, they have a fantastic draft beer selection. It’s fairly priced, and they also offered cheap deals with PBR oil cans.

The one down side – short set lists.  They seemed to be in a rush to get the bands off the stage to start a late night dance party.  I’d rather see fewer bands play longer sets if they need to clear the crowd out early in the night.

Miscellaneous Ramblings:

  • The staff was friendly both at the door and behind the bar, and they graciously let us sample some of the more unusual brews.
  • Ticket prices are reasonable.
  • For the show, the room was non-smoking, but pretty sure that ban is lifted when bands are not performing.
  • Parking available and plentiful at local garages ($5 to $10)

Bottom line: Worth a visit, and definitely check out the beer selection!

Lovedrug Concert Review

Lovedrug touched down in Orlando this weekend as they tour in support of their excellent new release of Wild Blood.

They played an energetic, yet short set in the cozy confines of Back Booth.  The quartet sounded excellent and seemed to truly enjoy their limited time on stage, from Michael Sheppard’s opening guitar riff on “Pink Champagne” through the powerful closer “Anodyne.” The group was tight, and sounded excellent during the forty-five minute set.

Lovedrug Michael Sheppard Live
Lovedrug Michael Sheppard Live at Back Booth

The first three selections were all off of Wild Blood. “Pimk Champagne” and “Wild Blood” had the crowd bouncing and singing along to kick the show off, and singer/guitarist Michael Sheppard sounded great.  Jeremy Gifford, who played guitar most of the night shifted over to keyboards during “Dinosaur” which was one of the early crowd favorites, particularly during the call-and-answer segment.

The highlight of the show was the fantastic “In Red” off of the band’s Pretend Your Alive album. Drummer James Freshwater and bassist Thomas Bragg absolutely powered this driving song, and seemed to have a blast doing it. Gifford and Sheppard traded off impressive guitar leads, with the latter displaying his broad vocal range hitting some nice high notes.

The foursome closed out the show with a great version of “Anodyne,” the song that also closes out the new album.  The crowd packed the small club and knew all of the songs. Speaking with the band after the show, they felt good about the Orlando welcome, and were looking forward to the next few months on the road.

I was hoping to hear “Ladders” and “Premonition” but imagine they were casualties of the shortened set time.  All told, it was an evening that whet my appetite for more Lovedrug.

Local bands Valise and Savannah did a nice job opening the show.

Rock On – Cretin!

Check out our Album Review of Wild Blood

Setlist:
Pink Champagne
Wild Blood
Dinosaur
Blood Like
Ghost By Your Side
Pushing the Shine
Great Divide
In Red
Black Out
Anodyne

Drew Yardis – Unto You Album Review

It was one of those unexpected winter nights in Orlando where it was actually cold.  I was at a party, and due to the frigid air, no one was outside watching the lone musician passionately singing and playing his guitar to a meager crowd. The guy in the suit was Drew Yardis, and he was working his ass off while all of the party-goers were inside enjoying the heat. I was impressed by his passion, and loved his very unique voice. He told me that night that his new album was on the way. Finally, it hits the streets on the 15th, and it’s a nice effort.

Yardis has been playing around Orlando for the past ten years in various incarnations, and now he’s back, fronting his new band, The Drew Yardis Project. He’s got an impressive and versatile voice and is an accomplished guitarist. He’s put together a good band of fellow Orlando music veterans, including Shane Smith on guitar, Dave Plakon on bass and drummer Austin Smith.

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The musicians sound great, and Yardis’ voice is great, particularly while hitting the higher notes. I found the album a bit heavy with slower paced songs. They do a nice job highlighting the range of his voice, and generally excellent guitar and bass work, but there’s a lot of slower tracks. Of these tunes, I felt that “Bright Child” and “Do What You Do” were the best, with the latter featuring beautiful vocals.

My favorite cuts on the album were generally the more fast-paced tracks. “Liberty” is a bitter look at today’s state of world affairs. The guitars are excellent, and we get to see a different side to Yardis’ vocals.  The chorus is one of the more memorable on the album, and Austin Smith’s powerful drums carry the song throughout. An excellent track.

Other highlights on the album include “Fallout” which features some fun funk-driven guitar riffs and “Human Heart” which will remind you in a good way of some of Jason Mraz’s best stuff.  It’s excellent, and probably the one song on the album song with the most commercial appeal.

All told, it’s a nice debut album from a talented group of musicians. Definitely worth a listen.

Mike G.

Check out the band’s upcoming shows at: DrewYardis.com

Flogging Molly Gets Their Irish Up

With a cover of Bob Marley’s classic “Redemption Song” pouring through the PA system, Flogging Molly exploded onto the stage at House of Blues, Orlando last night.

The Detroit based rock band with Irish punk roots, brought their sold out 6th Annual Green 17 Tour to the City Beautiful.   After taking the stage, the band immediately ripped into “Drunken Lullabies” and the fever-pitched party was underway.  By the time they wrapped up “Requiem For a Dying Song,” the capacity crowd had morphed into a writhing, bouncing, screaming mass of flesh.

They are touring in support of their recent Speed of Darkness release, one that is filled with lyrics addressing the dire straits most Americans suddenly find themselves in. From “The Power’s Out,” Dave King sang “The power’s out, just like the economy.”

Flogging Molly fans are a passionate bunch.  The band rarely gets a sniff of airplay, even over the satellite airwaves, but the Mollies’ fans know every lyric to virtually every song in their diverse catalog.  They’ve put their passionate fans before commercial success and the fans love to repay that loyalty. This night, they were in for a treat, as front man and guitarist Dave King announced they’d be digging deep into their library and reviving some of their older tunes.

Watching the show as more of an independent observer, I can share that the quality of the musicianship is impressive.  Dennis Casey’s lead riff’s were powerful all night, and his duet with drummer George Schwindt during a rollicking extended version of “Black Friday Rule” was an interesting and engaging twist on the classic guitar solo route. Nathan Maxwell on bass and Robert Schmidt on banjo had their shining moments, too; Maxwell on “Saints and Sinners” and Schmidt on “The Son Never Shines.”

Matthew Hensley’s accordion and King’s wife, Bridget Regan, on tin whistle and violin were the perfect complement to their hard rocking band mates. Regan also did a nice job taking the lead vocals on “A Prayer for Me in Silence.”

King writes the music and is clearly the heart of the band, he’s an accomplished guitar player and offers a unique, powerful and emotive voice.  He commands the stage, conducts the audience throughout and was witty and engaging.  A fantastic front man who absolutely appears to be enjoying this gig.

The crowd sang along, danced and moshed all night, and truly reached a fever pitch during “Swagger,” “The Likes of You Again,” and “Revolution.” It was an impressive site watching the mass of fans singing, chanting and gesturing at King’s biding.

The band wrapped up the set with a rocking version of “Seven Deadly Sins,” that again had the crowd bellowing along.  In a nice nod to the band’s Irish roots, the fervid crowd pulled them back onto the stage with a rollicking soccer chant of “Ole.”  King returned to the stage, congratulating the U.S Soccer team for their recent match, and slid into a relatively relaxed cover of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing.”

From there it was back to the fever pitch as the crowd deliriously sang along to “Salty Dog”.  At the end of the song, they brought up the house lights and the PA pumped out Monty Python’s “Bright Side of Life.”  The band gradually exited the stage, as the fully satisfied fans slid through the doors into the Darkness.

The setlist and a link to the band’s excellent 3 disc live album are provided below.

Devil Makes Three, a unique punkish-Americana trio out of Vermont opened the show.  They had a great original sound and featured a guitarist, a banjo player complete with Gibbon-esque beard and woman on stand-up bass. No drummer, and they didn’t need one.  Their enrgertic thirty minute set absolutely left me craving for more.

Black Joe Lewis followed up and warmed up the raucous crowd with a powerful and passionate set.  The seven man wrecking crew absolutely left it all on the stage and tore through an invigorating 45 minute set. The crowd actually pulled them out for an encore, where they treated us with a fun cover version of “Surfin Bird.” Good stuff and an excellent prelude to the main act.

Rock On! – Cretin

Setlist:

Drunken Lullabies
Requiem For a Dying Song
The Speed of Darkness
Revolution
Life In a Tenement Square
Whistles the Wind
Saints and Sinners
The Likes of You Again
Swagger
The Power’s Out
The Son Never Shines
A Prayer For Me in Silence
Us of Lesser Gods
Black Friday Rule long version with Guitar/Drum duet interspersed
Oliver Boy
Float
Devil’s Dance Floor
Rebels of the Sacred Heart
If I Ever Leave This World Alive
What’s Left of the Flag
Seven Deadly Sins

Encore:
Times They are A-Changing (Dylan Cover)
Salty Dog

Lemonheads Leave a Sour Taste

Funny thing about concert reviews is that the more positive it is the more likely it will be widely read.  Bands and fans tend to pass on links for the good reviews; not so much for the negative ones. That tendency coupled with the amazing lack of interest and passion I witnessed from Evan Dando and The Lemonheads has convinced me that the right approach would be a half-assed review that reflects the band’s effort at Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions in Orlando on Thursday night.

For all intents and purposes, The Lemonheads are Evan Dando plus two revolving players.  The other two members of his trio has literally included at least two dozen members over the last twenty years. That’s a lot of turnover. Chuck Treece, a journeyman drummer who has played with some notable acts over the years was on drums.  We expected to see Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday) on bass, but he was not in the line-up this night.

The tour is featuring a 20th Anniversary tribute to The Lemonheads’ fantastic breakthrough album It’s a Shame About Ray played through in its entirety. He raced through it in under 30  minutes, spent the entire set staring at the setlist and never acknowledging the small crowd. The only sign of life from Dando was a whimsical smile as he wrapped up “Frank Mills.” He did not play “Mrs. Robinson,” still peeved that most casual fans like the song as much as any of his self-penned hits.

After wrapping up the album set, Dando played a few acoustic songs. I have the set list, but just don’t feel like typing out the songs.   The highlight of the show for me? During this acoustic set, I walked over to the bar and tried Abita’s IPA. An excellent, smooth beer with just the right level of bitterness.

Dando’s voice is still unique and poignant, but on this evening his guitar playing was uninspired. He really didn’t look his old beautiful self.  I have pictures to prove that, but why spend the effort to upload them? Through the years, I’ve read enough Lemonheads concert reviews to know it’s a crapshoot on what Evan Dando version is going to take the stage. Looks like we got the poor version. Perhaps he was under the weather again?

The other two members of the band returned to the stage to rip through a few more songs, including a few crowd favorites. I’m sure you know the ones…

51 minutes later: Exit Stage Left. The pain for Dando and the fans was thankfully over.

Cretin

Here a link to the featured album, which despite the lame show remains a 90’s masterpiece. Just don’t listen to Track 13…

An All Day Buffett – Margaritaville Style

Jimmy Buffett brought his party to Orlando on his Welcome To Fin Land tour last night. I’ve seen Buffett a few times in the past, and his shows have become predictable.  It’s typically that same laid back, feel good, beach party vibe; a formula that he’s mastered.  Realizing that the pre-game festivities are typically as much fun as the show, I decided to focus on that aspect of a Buffett show this year.

For this year’s tailgate, our group ratcheted the experience up a bit by booking a party bus.  So, for this review, the beers were flowing almost as quickly as the fingers were hitting the keyboard.

  • Eight hours before showtime: My wife and I exit the house with a case of Yuengling, a case of water and a few pounds of marinating garlic shrimp.
  • T -7.5 hours to showtime: Arrive at the departure rendezvous point. There are 24 of us on the bus and enough coolers, bags, chairs, grills, etc… for a group 10 times our size. We learn the bus has a blown tire and is on the side of the highway somewhere.  Pacing myself, I grab a Diet Coke. Need to stay sober for awhile…
  • T-7.25 hours: We take advantage of our unexpected break and we pose for a group photo. I suggest all of the women get on their knees. They refuse…
  • T -7 hours: Tire still not changed.  Crack the lid on beer number one.
  • T -6.5 hours: Tire repairman is on the spot, somewhere on the ludicrously expensive toll roads of Central Florida. Bus will arrive shortly. Party in the driveway begins to pick up. Beer 2.
  • T -6 hours: Still waiting. Someone passes around some Cuban sandwiches. Not a fan of mustard nor pickles on my sandwich and our raw shrimp is probably not the best alternative. Stick with my liquid lunch. Beer 3. Flexibility is the key to a happy life.
  • T -5.5 hours: We’re enjoying the driveway party so much, we make plans to do it again the next weekend.  The neighbors hope we are joking, but look up the phone number for Code Enforcement just in case.  Suddenly, the pure white bus appears like a vision. Someone yells out “Looks like a bloodmobile.” It does.
  • T -5 hours: It takes us thirty minutes to pack.  We really have a lot of stuff, more than we could ever possibly need…
  • T -4.5 hours: We arrive at the arena. Our driver parks and rearranges the bus three times, as the clueless lot attendants can’t figure out where to put us. Twenty minutes later, we park right where we started. En route, another beer, two jello shots and dozens of photos. No one tries the stripper pole, but the ride is a blast.
  • T -4 hours. My wife hears “Escape (The Pina Colada song) at a neighboring tailgate and confesses it was her first 45.  Really? Shouldn’t that be disclosed during the dating process?  Where was the responsible parenting? Although I think I need a shot, I grab another beer.
  • T -3.5 hours. A confused Parrothead named Bridget/Gretchen adds the name of a Buffett song to everyone’s red Solo cup to keep us from getting confused.  By this time there are 40 happy people who already have song names on their cup. I don’t know 40 Buffett songs.  I’m okay with drinking out of a bottle the rest of the day.
  • T -3 hours. Cruise the tailgates and see a very diverse crowd. We visit the tailgate spot for the split personalitied Bridg-chen. Although confused she’s pretty damn artistic.  Here’s her posse doing Margaritaville Tequila shots.  Is there anything Buffett doesn’t slap his name on and sell? They are in front of her Cheeseburger in Paradise tribute. I passed on the shot.  Tequila is bad bad stuff.
  • T -2.5 hours. Damn the food is good. The grill is fired up. Awesome brats, appetizers and Jerk chicken wings. Go to cook the shrimp and realize we need aluminum foil to keep them from falling through the grate. Rest assured, there’s a roll in one of the many crates we spent 30 minutes packing.  These folks are like Boy Scouts, we have everything we could ever want (and great company, too).  The shrimp is pretty damn good, too.
  • T -2 hours. David and I kicking ass at beer pong.  Well, mostly David, but I still get to bask in the victories. We go undefeated, but the problem with Beer Pong is that even the winners still drink a bit. Afterwards, sit down in one of the 600 chairs our group packed and sip some water. Good idea…
  • T -1.5 hours.  Last tour through the lots. Very festive group, but truthfully  more subdued from past Buffett shows, either because his fans are getting too old to party, or because the new lot under I-4 just doesn’t have the same ambiance. We notice a huge cross on a nearby building overlooking the crowd as we talk to a nice group winding down their tailgate.  They’re all devout Christians.  Seems like kismet, or maybe just all of the beer I had consumed?
  • T -1 hour. The group packs up and most head to the Amway Center. A few of us stay behind, preferring our $1 beers to the $11 beers inside. We watch three people stop our driver and negotiate to use the bathroom. (Note to self on a future business idea).
  • T -15 minutes. We’re in the arena, and the place is alive, a very cool vibe. I make a rest room stop just as a haggard looking Parrothead Redneck stumbles in. Someone yells “We have a leaker.” There’s a small wet spot on the front of his jeans. The Dude turns the corner, stumbles, almost regains his balance then goes down.  The stain gets a lot bigger. So much for the cool vibe…
  • T -3 minutes. We step into the seating area as “Hot, Hot, Hot” pumps through the P.A. with beach balls flying, happy fans singing and swaying; the festive atmosphere is definitely back.

As for the show itself; the concert was classic Jimmy. Clad in boat shorts and bare feet, he seemed to be having fun, and the sold out crowd had a blast. Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band kicked off the show with “The Wino and I Know” and were sounding great right from the start.  Shortly afterwards, Mac McAnally slid into Alan Jackson’s role from “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” and the party kicked up a notch. The show was laid back throughout and generally just a fun time.

The two hour set featured all of the hits and a few nuggets, as well (see the setlist below), before wrapping up with a rousing version of “Fins,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and then Jimmy alone on stage with a nice acoustic version of  “Tin Cup Chalice,” a great way to put a wrap on two hours of buffet and eight hours of pre-game festivities.

Rock On! Cretin

Check out more photos on RARAsFarm’s FaceBook

Jimmy Buffett Orlando Concert
Jimmy Buffett Live in Orlando

Setlist

The Wino And I Know
License To Chill
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere
Pencil Thin Mustache
Come Monday
Life Is Just A Tire Swing
Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes
Grapefruit-Juicy Fruit
Bama Breeze
Volcano
Cheeseburger In Paradise
One Particular Harbour
Creola
Floridays
Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw
Margaritaville
Son Of A Son Of A Sailor
School Boy Heart
Last Mango In Paris
Knee Deep
Woman Goin’ Crazy On Caroline Street
A Pirate Looks At Forty
Back Where I Come From
Southern Cross

Encore
Fins
Brown Eyed Girl
Tin Cup Chalice

TSO – Wizards of Winter

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The Wizards of Winter are back on the road this winter bringing their unique show to cities across the country.  I wondered if a review of their show belonged on a website dedicated to Rock and Roll Animals.

So, let’s do multiple choice; What exactly is a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show? A.  Rock Concert; B.  Broadway Show; C.  Opera; D.  Christmas Pageant?

The answer: “E” – All of the Above.  These guys rock, but it’s so much more than your standard rock concert. The best description, with all due respect to BNL has to be a Rock Spectacle.

I’ve heard folks knock them for being overly commercialized. They might be, but they clearly care about their fans. They stick around and sign autographs after the show, they give away programs and concert T-Shirts to lucky fans in the arena, and they donate serious cash to local charities.

Then there’s the refrain “they’re not a real rock band, their members change all the time.” They do, and truth be told, they have two touring bands during their hectic Christmas season. But, the core members have been together since they formed in 1993 as a band called Savatage. The same core group writes the music, designs the shows and then divides and conquers on the stages.

“OK, fine, they’re still just a big Broadway show, with nice actors, right?” Uh, no. These guys (and gals) can rock. Sure, they all have hair the Jennifer Aniston would kill for and look like Glamour models, but they are pure musicians, too. They play with an orchestra, feature an assortment of rotating vocalists, but make no mistake, their sound is powered by the seven primary band members – and they absolutely rock.

The first half of the concert primarily revolves around the band’s trilogy of Christmas albums.  A storyteller weaves the thread tying all of the songs together, and features some of their bigger hits. The vocals are spectacular, the eight piece string section spot on, the keys magnificent, the drums and bass powerful, and the lead guitars excellent.  It’s sort of Meatloaf meets Emerson Lake and Palmer, only in the 21st Century and with an amazing stage show. “First Snow,” “An Angel Returned” and “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” were the highlights.

This was my first full blown rock show in the new Amway Center, and the sound was great.  We sat opposite the stage in the second level – a perfect spot to enjoy the full breadth of the show.  The light show is the best I’ve ever seen, the lasers are fantastic, the pyrotechnics dynamic, and the sound was perfect.  Add in a flying catwalk that raises up 40 feet over the crowd and spans the entire floor, and a telescoping 2nd stage on the floor, and you see some cutting edge stuff.

The second half of the show offered a bit more diversity from the band including a few strong songs from their Night Castles double album. This portion is a bit darker, with the selections punctuated by a heightened pyrotechnic and fireworks show.  It was quite easy to forget we were inside.  Throughout it all, the music was pristine and the band thoroughly entertaining. The best song of the night was their classic “Wizards in Winter.”

For “Queen of the Winter Night,” the female vocalist climbed onto the secondary stage at the back of the arena and blew the crowd away with her amazing vocals. The band then threw in a nice drum solo on the most tricked up drum kit I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a bunch…

As the night wound down, they kicked into a spirited dueling keyboards segment that included a cool Charlie Brown symphony, and then slid directly into one of their own classic Christmas tunes “Wish Liszt.” From there, 2 1/2 hours after we started our journey, they brought the house down with their finale, the reprise of “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo.”

All told, a family friendly rock and roll spectacle, well worth checking out.

Rock On – Cretin

Matt Butcher Carves Out a Following at Orlando Calling

After listening to three O.A.R. songs, I turned to my friend in boredom and said, “Hey you want to check out that Matt Butcher guy at the Art House Stage?” She quickly agreed and we headed from a large stage area with thousands of people and beer tubs to a tiny tent that could hold maybe 75 people. The Art House Stage was for up-and-coming artists. The baristas and red velvet couch created the appropriate atmosphere for the performance that was about to ensue.

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Matt Butcher and Justin Beckler took the stage in colorful western attire and immediately connected with the audience with a confident yet humble presence. Butcher asked the crowd to move in closer so he could see our beautiful faces. However, the real treat was when Butcher and Beckler began to play their soulful rock. Butcher’s voice and style reminded me of other folk like rock artists such as Band of Horses, Gavin Degraw, and the Avett Brothers. They both played guitar with the occasional mandolin thrown in for good measure. Their seven song set was a pure delight. I only know the name of one of the songs because it was a cover of “Sympathy for the Devil”. I wish I could tell you the names of the others…because they were really good! Butcher admitted that he is a poor self-promoter and decided not to play any of the new songs off of his latest album, Ghostwriter. However, I took a risk and decided to purchase Ghostwriter anyway since it was available for immediate purchase.

I highly recommend the album (available on iTunes). My favorite song on the album is called “Rome, Rain or Hail.” I turned my stereo up as the sweet melody filled my car with a playful beat and interjections of a harmonica. Take a chance on Matt Butcher. Walk away from the unoriginal, have a seat on a red velvet couch and take it all in.

Mango