They eased into their set with the smooth synth-driven, reggae-flavored “I’m Leaving, and the crowd was immediately swaying along to the music. But, by the end of the following song, the feverishly paced “The Pit,” they were raucously bouncing across the packed floor screaming “Fuck You.” This was my first Supervillains show and ten minutes into the set, I quickly realized that I was in for a hell of a ride.
Paul Williams is the gregarious owner of West End Trading and the unofficial Ambassador of Sanford. He has operated the comfortable, friendly West End music venue for nearly a decade, during that time watching the place triple in size as their critical role as the primary rock venue in Seminole county continues to spread its wings. He coined the #sanfording hashtag and has recently added the Celery City Craft taproom to his Sanford portfolio.
We sat down with him in his chaotic office and had a quick chat about his passion for rock music, Sanfording, buying Local and a few other things.
When this talented California band ripped through Orlando a few weeks ago, we cornered vocalist Josh Hallbauer who is more commonly known as Josh Cocktail for an interview. He shared his thoughts on their unique brand of rock, what drives their performances, and what to expect at their entertaining shows.
I’ll admit that twenty-four hours ago, I had no idea who the hell Radical Something was. I liked their name, thought they had a cool logo, was intrigued by their bio, and honestly just as interested in seeing their tour mates Matisyahu.
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After witnessing their blistering forty-five minute set, I was an instant fan. This California trio (turned quintet for this tour) just dripped with energy, charisma and talent, and were an absolute blast on stage. Their music was fresh, creative and fun, and it didn’t take long for them to win the crowd over. If you see them touring through your area, they’re a can’t miss live act that needs to be on your radar.
If I had to categorize their music, I’d call it Indie Surf ska with a touch of hip hop. I spoke to lead vocalist Josh Hallbauer (Josh Cocktail) before the show and asked him to describe the band’s sound, “The music is like laid back California reggae. We’re into connecting with the crowd. Our show is based off of how we feed off of the crowd, it’s energetic for sure.” And, from the minute they hit the stage, it was clear to see he was true to his word. (My full interview with Cocktail will be published here in a few weeks)
From the first notes of “Escape,” they were constantly interactive with the crowd. All three primary members share vocal duties; Cocktail had the highest voice, and boasted a broad range, while Alex Lagemann (Loggy), and Michael Costanzo (Big Red) were a hit more rap influenced. The voices were all quite different, but they complemented each other and blended together nicely throughout the show.
The one constant throughout the ten song set was that the band members were constantly upbeat. (See full setlist below) They bounced across the stage, weaving between each other as they raced around deftly trading off vocals. It was a bit of cohesive chaos that was just a blast to watch. Loggy on guitar and Big Red on bass spent most of the show playing their respective instruments, and they were backed by talented touring musicians on guitar and drums.
(We will post more photos on our Facebook page in the next few days)
An early highlight of the show was “Cheap Drink,” the first song of the night that prominently featured all three vocalists. It was a raucous party anthem that also featured drum and guitar solos. By that point in the set, the entire crowd was smiling, dancing, and answering to the band’s every desire. They followed with a killer version of their new offering “Cali Get Down.” The crowd loved it, happily singing along “What Up Mother Fucker?” in a song that I felt was the most entertaining of the evening. <Grab Cali Get Down on iTunes>
They slowed the tempo down a bit for a few songs featuring excellent vocals from Cocktail, and then it was back to the party for a frenetic finish.
Perhaps hearkening back to Cocktail’s undergrad time at Florida Atlantic, or the brief period when they recorded a few tracks in Southern Florida, these California guys easily bonded with their new friends from the East Coast. A few quotes from the stage that captured the vibe:
“We’re fucking exhausted but you people are our energy.”
“We appreciate your love and energy”
“You guys make it real”
The beauty of those quotes? It showed a true symbiotic relationship between band and fans, and it was genuine. These guys absolutely appreciated and were humbled by the rollicking crowd, and the feeling was reciprocated.
Oh, and Matisyahu? They were okay, but I left early as they didn’t hold a candle to their more creative, energetic opening act.
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 (including from this show). Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂
Cali Get Down
Step Right Up
The Tallahassee reggae band Keep it Civil consists of childhood friends Kevin Olivera (lead vocals/ acoustic guitar), Owen Pratt (lead guitar), Tony Norwillo (percussion/rapper), and newly friended Tristian Jones (bass/ backup vocals). The band has been cranking out music since they formed and they haven’t looked back since. With the upcoming release of their first official EP, Keep it Civil is destined for great things. The EP is titled after its first track, “HSL,” which stands for Hobe Sound Local.
The band knew what they were doing when they titled the EP after its first track because “HSL” is definitely the single on the EP. All the songs are enjoyable but what I like about “HSL” is what I like about the EP as a whole. The song just oozes good vibes; it’s upbeat, and best of all it’s simple and enjoyable without trying to be something it’s not. The opening line of the song goes “My girlfriend don’t smoke pot and she barely even drinks; Lord you know it drives me crazy, she’s always tellin’ me I’m lazy.” I think it’s endearing of Keep it Civil to say it like it is; they’re a reggae band that smokes a lot of pot. If this is shocking to you, you may not be familiar with the genre. A lot of people might claim that talking about marijuana in their music cheapens it somehow, but I beg to differ. I would rather listen to a group of potheads serenade me than a group of liars; they smoke and they’re not afraid to sing about it, for that I commend them.
However, Keep it Civil is a multidimensional band and refuse to let something as insignificant as marijuana define them, they smoke and sing about it and that’s part of who they are but it’s not all of who they are. Some of the songs on the EP are about partying, beautiful women, and beaches. If you didn’t know Keep it Civil was from a college town, their lyrics could help you figure it out. Most of the songs on HSL are relatable to the twenty-somethings of America. This is a time between childhood and adulthood, a time where it’s easy to lose yourself to growing up, but Keep it Civil reminds its youthful listener to slow down and enjoy life, while it reminds the seasoned listener of good times had.
I really like the EP as a whole, it sounds a little like Pepper, a little like Sublime, and a little like The Dirty Heads. In reflection I am left wishing that Keep it Civil sounded more like Keep it Civil and less like their influences, but the band is still finding their sound and I think there are white hot flashes of pure originality found in the EP that I believe will shine brighter on the band’s next album.
Yet, the band does one thing exceptionally well on this EP that I’m sure they will do on the next, they sing the way they were born to sing. A lot of times, when reggae bands form with a white vocalist, there’s a false pressure for the vocalist to make an attempt to sound more exotic, and it never works. What this leaves the listener with is something that borders the line between awful and possibly racist. If you are a white kid from the suburbs don’t try to sound like a Jamaican from the Island; it doesn’t work. Keep it Civil went down the right road and chose to sing with the voices they were given. I love how clean all the vocals on the EP are, and the harmonies on track five, “Hobe Sound” are flawless.
If you’re a fan of upbeat honest music, you’ll be a fan of Keep it Civil’s first EP, HSL. This is one of those offerings that marks the start of something great. Keep it Civil is a relatively new band and they’re still finding their sound but they’ve done a pretty good job of identifying their sound for now. Pickup HSL on Soundcloud and let the good vibes takeover.
I knew I liked these guys the moment I saw their tagline: “a reggae infused punk rock sound with a little bit o’ Irish whiskey on top.” I’ve always felt that reggae and Irish rock were a perfect pairing (see New York’s Black 47 for a prime example) and was immediately intrigued by The Bastard Suns.
I went into the night unfamiliar with the band and their music and failed to realize that the crazy guys jumping on and off the stage for impromptu cameos during Knock-Out’s opening set were the effervescent members of The Bastard Suns. It was apparent early in the night that the quartet out of Atlanta love rock music and love performing.
Their nearly two hour set at Sanford’s cool West End Trading Company was a raucous energetic show that had the crowd dancing, bouncing. moshing and singing along throughout. The bands music is rough and edgy yet amazingly precise. They’re excellent musicians offering up a superb mix of reggae, ska and punk, all with a hearty Irish twist. It’s a damn good mix and an absolute blast to listen to.
“Start A Party” epitomized the band’s sound – a rollicking, feverish onslaught of fast-paced punk ska, that was performed perfectly. The musicians are all excellent and absolutely shined on this track, which is driven by rapid fire vocals and a powerful bass solo. “Wasted” was another crowd favorite that was accompanied by the band doing a shot of Jameson’s with a pickle juice chaser. The drink sounds nasty, while the song was nasty in a good way. Most of their selections were originals, including the guitar powered “We’d Go For Broke (But We’re Already There)” which they played for a member of The West End’s staff.
In addition to their excellent originals, they played a few cover songs, all stamped with their own unique Bastard Suns spin. “Maggie May” was offered with a unique twist and we heard a punkified version of Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life.” One of the highlights of the show was a tremendous version of “Soulshine,” which was introduced as a song from Georgia’s greatest band, The Allman Brothers. Here’s a Youtube version of the band performing it live. Good, good stuff.
Knock-Out, a trio from Riverside, California warmed the stage up and offered up a powerful set of aggressive punk with a touch of ska. As noted earlier, they had a great rapport with The Bastard Suns and shared the stage several times throughout the evening.
UNRB, a local ska band out of St. Petersburg was a great discovery. This group of six was an absolute blast. They offered up a fun blend of crisp ska, in a line-up that didn’t include a guitarist. Bass, drums, a three piece brass section, and an electric ukulele – an unusual approach, but it was fantastically fun, and highly recommended.
For those of you who have not made it out to West End, take a look at their concert calendar and make a trip out to the Sanford waterfront. They offer up great local and national acts in a cozy local rock room.