01/01 – B.B. King, Hard Rock Cafe / Hard Rock Live
01/05 – Donna The Buffalo, The Plaza Theatre
01/10 – Justin Townes Earle, The Social
01/11 – The Darkness / Hell or Highwater, Hard Rock Cafe / Hard Rock Live
01/11 – The Dropa Stone, The Social (check out our album review here)
01/11 – Burning Tree, West End Trading Co. (Sanford) – Reggae rockers playing a free show!
01/12 – The Supervillains, West End Trading Co. (Sanford)
01/13 – Sevendust and Candlebox with Tremonti at HOB-Orlando. Johnny Damon Foundation Presents Johnny JaM’13
01/17 – Tab Benoit, The Social
01/18 – Big Head Todd & The Monsters, House Of Blues
01/18 – Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, Backbooth
01/18 – Kansas, The Plaza Theatre
01/25 – Ron White Hard Rock Cafe / Hard Rock Live – Yeah, I know he’s not a rock artist, but he’s just damn funny.
01/28 – A Silent Film, The Social – Great young band out of the UK, with one of our Top 25 Rock Songs of 2012
01/28 – Of Mice & Men, The Beacham
01/30 – G. Love & Special Sauce, The Plaza Theatre
From the first notes of the catchy opening track “Dark Night,” to the excellent closing track “Lost In the World” these guys demand your attention. Green River Ordinance’s brand of rock ‘n roll is hard to peg, but it’s music packed with lush melodies and fantastic harmonies in what is probably best described as Alt-Americana. The album is easy on the ears and a diverse collection of rich, comfortable musical offerings you’ll find yourself listening to repeatedly.
I was just recently introduced to this talented quintet out of Fort Worth, Texas, although the band has been on the rock scene for about a decade. They’re currently touring the country in support of their Kickstarter funded album Under Fire. Sure, I’m a little behind the curve, but nonetheless, here’s a review of the album, which is a nice broad introduction to the band that compares nicely to Train and Sister Hazel.
Lead vocalist, Josh Jenkins has a nice distinctive voice, and the band’s excellent harmonies make the vocals a focal point throughout. The line-up also features three guitarists, including Jamey Ice on lead guitar, which allows the band to offer impressive layered sounds throughout the fifteen tracks.
“Heard of Me” is an addictive tune with memorable lyrics and vocals that will stick in your head immediately. The guitars and Denton Hunker’s drums are the perfect accompaniement to what is quite simply a damn good song that should be a mainstay on Adult Alternative radio. “Home” and “Heart of the Young” are two other songs which reek of commercial playability.
“Love Laid Down” is one of my faovrite tracks on the album. The song features guitar and banjo and find Jenkins’ vocals in a different and compellingly interesting range. “New Day” is another fantastic cut. It features great keyboards and powerful drums throughout, giving it a different sound than most of the album. Jenkins’ vocals are again excellent, and the lyrics and harmonies will stick in your memory.
Overall, Under Fire is a strong album, from a band in control of their own sound and it works extremely well. Check it out on iTunes below.
I’ve seen a slew of concerts over the first half of the year, but none of them stood up to the dynamic show that London’s Wolf Gang delivered at The Social this weekend. This talented and energetic quintet is a band that we’re going to be hearing a lot from in the years to come, and they blew away the Orlando crowd with a blazing sixty minute set.
While most of Orlando was at The Amway Center abusing their ears with thousands of screaming pre-teens at the One Direction show, a sage group of discerning Rock And Roll Animals saw some truly majestic rock ‘n roll in the cozy club on Orange Avenue. If you were one of the many who chose the wrong venue on this evening, you really missed something special.
Max McElligott is the musical vision behind these young alt-rockers, having penned and performed all of the songs on the band’s excellent debut album Suego Faults. He’s also assembled a fantastic line-up of passionate musicians who have been touring extensively for about a year. Their set was predictable, with all but nine cuts off of the album, plus three other new songs. Suego Faults is really quite good, certainly one of the top ten of the year thus far. Surprisingly, the live performance actually exceeded those lofty standards.
They opened the set with a new track, “Into the Fire,” one that featured McElligott on guitar that got the house rocking from the start. He switched over to keyboards for the next song, “Something Unusual” where we had our first taste of the band’s amazing harmonies. He traded off between guitar and keyboards throughout the show and on quite a few songs, he left the playing to the remainder of the band and took center stage with just the mic.
McElligot voice is powerful and distinctive and his range broad. The uber-talented front man sounded near perfect and the backing harmonies from his band mates were spot on, matching the excellent vocals from the album. On stage, McElligott reeks of charisma and certainly offers a theatrical touch. At times I thought of Freddie, other times Bowie, most times…I thought I was seeing the next legend out of England.
Interacting with the crowd throughout, McElligott was comfortable on stage, from his opening “Welcome to the wonderful people of the Social Bar” to sharing the London lads’ rough initial taste of our searing Florida sun. I was impressed by the energy of the band at the relatively small Social, immediately after wrapping up a huge arena tour with Coldplay, yet they seemed to thrive in the more intimate club.
The band members were tight and cohesive throughout the evening, and they all switched off between instruments, as well. James Woods on bass was a non-stop whirling dervish and powered the band through a rollicking version of Stay & Defend. Lasse Petersen on drums was the band’s backbone all night, and absolutely shined on another new cut, “The Kill.”
We had a chance to witness the group’s softer side on both “Promises” and the spectacular “Suego Faults” which featured three keyboards, highlighted by McElligott and Jamie Jones, and some of the best vocals/harmonies of the night. McElligott had the crowd in the palms of his hands, expertly adjusting the flow and timbre of the show throughout.
The entire band seemed energized during “Dancing With the Devil” which featured a nice solo from Gavin Slater, before slowing things down with a nice love song, “Midnight Dancers.” From there, the band wrapped up the show with their two biggest singles to date, “The King and All His Men” and “Lions in Cages” closing out a great set, raising the energy level to a fever pitch and sending the crowd home convinced they had seen something special.
Charlotte’s Flagship offered a nice opening set in their first trip to Orlando, highlighted by their drummer, Mike Finster, who tore it up the entire set, despite playing on a borrowed drum kit! They’ve got a unique sound and are definitely worth a trip to check out next time they are in town.
Wolf Gang’s drummer, Lasse Petersen is apparently an excellent cook, with a fondness for duck, and actually cooked at Hard Rock Hotel this week.
All five members of Wolf Gang hung around after the show and got to know their fans; they really seemed to care about meeting everyone, asking names, chatting, and listening! It was refreshing to see.
Wolf Gang is looking to come back to Orlando this fall, so keep your eyes peeled to RARA’s Farm for the show announcement, and next time, don’t let some teeny-bopper boy band deter you from their excellent show.
If you were there, let us know what you thought in the comments below. If you were trapped into seeing One Direction to please your eight year-old niece and want to rehabilitate your ears, check out the album below.
This Wednesday night was the first night of summer in Orlando. For a few hundred happy fans it was a fantastic Rocket Summer. Putting on a passionate and energetic performance, Bryce Avary, the soul of The Rocket Summer lit up the stage at The Social in Orlando for nearly two hours. He is currently on tour promoting the band’s fifth album Life Will Write the Words. Avary started performing in Orlando about 8 years back and has made the city a repeat destination on his tours, and for good reason; his fans love him!
The Rocket Summer opened the night with an extremely impressive showcase of Avary’s musical talents – the energetic, multi-talented musician displayed his ability to play the drums, then moved to the keyboard, slid over to the bass guitar and finally rocked on lead guitar. With guitar in hand he fired up the crowd as he kicked into “Do You Feel”
Quickly realizing the show was only going to get more intense and energetic he performed “Hills and Valleys” and then the band played the first song off of the new album – “Run and Don’t Stop.” The new album hit the shelves just two weeks ago, yet there was hardly a person in the venue not singing along. For “Of Men and Angels” – a definite crowd-pleaser – he took things down a notch and moved over to the keyboard to express his piano abilities.
The Rocket Summer then picked things back up with one of their most popular songs “Break it Out” allowing the fans to sing along while showcasing his musical skills. “Prove It,” another hit off the new album got the crowd jumping, then just as they reached a frenzy, Avary disappeared from the stage leaving the crowd searching.
Suddenly, fans at the back of the venue started screaming as Avary, guitar in hand walks to the center of the floor – takes a seat – and performs yet another song off the new album, “Soldiers.” A much more personal performance sang right in the heart of the fans. After his performance he stood up on the bar and dove into the crowd as they passed him along back to the stage.
Before the performance of “Walls,” Avary spoke to the crowd about how much this song meant to him and that he wanted everyone to know they weren’t alone – it was a goose-bump moment to say the least, as the crowd sang in unison and his very impressive piano performance was displayed. The performance of “Revival” was the most rocking performance of the night; we heard more edgy vocals and saw more head banging, guitar rocking, and crowd jumping in this song than any other of the night. The Rocket Summer closed the set with “You Tell Me To Live.”
Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer in the crowd
With the crowd rhythmically chanting and clapping for more, Avary returned to the stage, this time without the band. He opened the encore with three solo acoustic songs – all highlighting his outstanding vocal talent. I found it very unique that Avary opened the floor to the crowd on which songs they wanted to hear next and gave a few lucky fans the satisfaction of having their request selected.
Avary then decided it was time to throw “a little dance party” and once again ran around stage playing every instrument he could get his hands on, while the crowd danced mesmerized by his diverse musical ability.
In total, The Rocket Summer put on an encore of seven songs plus a little dance party. Avary repeatedly noted to the crowd that he just wanted to keep playing. A highlight from the encore was the performance of “Circa ’46” – this was the first time ever performing the song live. Avary noted to the crowd they had practiced it a few days earlier and wanted to test it. Throughout the performance he yelled “well this isn’t going so bad.” Truly a fun experience to be part of. They closed the night with” I Need a Break… but I’d Rather Have a Breakthrough.”
Not only are the vocals of Avary perfectly on key but his musical talent is absolutely amazing. How many artists do you know who can perform for close to two hours, sing in the midst of a frenzied crowd, stage dive, crowd surf, interact with the fans, and move between playing the keyboard to the guitar singing the entire time, then put on a 7 song encore?
Bryce Avary is one of those musicians that is grateful for the fans that continue to come out and support his dream year after year and he rewards them with a jaw dropping performance. He connected with the entire crowd throughout the show and made sure everyone knew how thankful he was, and by the length of his encore really showed he had no desire to leave the stage.
I also noted that The Rocket Summer played seven songs off their new album, whereas most bands only play a few new cuts off a brand new album and stick to the fan favorites. Avary took a risk and it paid off as the crowd knew all the words and not a person seemed disappointed; but after a show like that how could you be?
Do you Feel
Hills and valleys
Run and Don’t Stop
Of Men and Angels
Break it Out
Soldiers (played in the middle of the crowd)
So, In This Hour
You Tell Me To Live
Around the clock
So Much Love
Circa ‘46 (first performance ever)
Just for a Moment Forget Who You Are
I Need a Break… But I’d Rather Have a Breakthrough
Earlier this week, I had one of those moments that all rock music fans covet. I was out at a venue reviewing one band and stumbled across another act on the bill that really caught my attention. I was out at The Social in Orlando checking out The Drowning Men, who were great in their own right (see the review here) when I had the pleasure of catching the dynamic eight piece River City Extension.
The octet out of New Jersey crammed onto the small stage and delivered an energetic and diverse set that I would best classify as a creative merging of Mumford and Sons and Gogol Bordello! It might sound unusual, but they pull it off magnificently. Over the course of the night, the six men and two women traded off among fifteen different instruments, providing quite the aural feast. At different times, they featured two drummers, two banjo players, violin, trumpet, mandolin and more; a welcome diversion from much of the cookie cutter stuff dominating the airwaves these days.
Led by front man Joe Michelini, the band focused their set on music from their excellent new release Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger. I spoke to Michelini briefly after the set and asked him how he would classify their brand of rock. There’s no easy classification, which is part of the beauty to their unique sound. We settled on Alt-Americana, but you can check out the link below and make your own judgment.
They kicked off the show with “Glastonbury,” the opening track off of the album and followed that up with nine other cuts from the new album as well as a few selections from their two prior releases.
“Welcome to Pittsburgh” was an early highlight. The track has a beautiful, optimistic feel to it, as Michelini shows off his broad vocal range. The most impressive features of the song were Nicole Scorsone on violin and Dan Melius on trumpet! The violin absolutely powers the song and Melius also contributes some fantastic trumpet work. Good stuff!
“Point of Surrender” and “Ballad of Oregon” were two other songs of the same vein that were crowd-pleasing favorites.
This band is quite diverse and they showed off their versatility all night. Other highlights included “Slander,” a poignant tune in the vein of classic rock, “Our New Intelligence” a nice boy/girl duet, and the stark “Standing Outside in a Southern Riot” which featured Michelini and vocalist Samantha Tacon alone on stage.
It was a great introduction to a talented band that we should be hearing much more from in the years ahead.
There & Back Again
Welcome To Pittsburgh
Our New Intelligence
Point of Surrender
Standing Outside a Southern Riot
If You Need Me Back In Brooklyn
Ballad of Oregon
Everything West of Home
Something Salty, Something Sweet
In a sparsely filled room on a rainy night in Orlando, I saw the future of rock ‘n roll.
The Drowning Men brought their unique style of rock to The Social and absolutely blew away the energetic, yet small crowd. For those of you who don’t know the music of The Drowning Men, you’re missing something special. I’d characterize them as a cross between Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd, but I’m sure everyone else in attendance could come up with different comparisons. Bottom line: they’re unique, they’re creative. they’re interesting, they’re provocative, and they’re pretty damn good!
The band does things their own way, from their look, their arrangements and their sound, and it’s a method that works exceptionally well. The first impression you’ll get from the quintet covered in tattoos and facial hair is of a group of longshoremen or bikers, but then they start to play… Pure majesty.
They exploded onto the stage with a rich versions of “More Than This” and “Caroline You’re A Mess,” both off of their critically acclaimed 2011 re-release of Beheading of the Songbird – a fantastic album that dominated the night’s set list. It was apparent quite early that this group fits together exceptionally well.
Nato Bardeen and his distinctive voice are the focal point, but the band is comprised of five equally talented musicians. Drummer, Rory Dolan is the driving force that powers the band throughout all of the songs, and he’s joined by the very talented James Smith on guitar, Gabriel Messier on an old-school organ and Todd Eisenkerch on bass and keyboards. Over the course of the night, we also get to see the talented Bardeen trading off instruments, from his magnificent Gretsch guitar, to a melodica, a mandolin and the keyboard.
After the show, Smith acknowledged that the band got a little flexible with their set list, and the next three songs featured cuts off of their upcoming release All of the Unknown. Messier provided a nice lead-in into “I am the Beggar Man” the first of the three and carried the song, along with the steady driving beat from Dolan. Bardeen’s fantastic vocals on this one are reminiscent of Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
Bardeen then took a seat at the keyboards for the interesting “Bored In a Belly,” which starts off with a bit of a carnival fun. It’s a new sound for The Drowning Men, but again an excellent tune. They wrapped up thier sojourn into All of the Unknown with the mandolin driven “Lost in a Lullaby” which has the potential to become an anthem for the band.
The remainder of the set was a nice diverse mix of the old and new, with the highlight being a great version of “Courageous Son.” It’s a consummate rock song that came together perfectly on this night. Bardeen sitting at the keys and Messier on the organ got it off to a rollicking start, then the rest of the crew took over, featuring some of Smith’s best work with his Fender Telecaster. The frenzied foot-stomping finish is damn near perfect in a song that I’d describe as beautifully chaotic.
For their closing song, it was their biggest hit “Rita,” which had the band still passionately pouring it out on stage. It’s an addictive tune that had the crowd dancing and singing along. An excellent end to a great set (see the full setlist below)
I suspect the next time I have a chance to see these guys, it’s going to be in a much larger, more crowded venue, but that’s okay for me: losing a bit of that intimacy means good news for the future of rock ‘n roll.
Lots of good music headed our way as we hit Spring in Central Florida, as March wraps up with a ton of great shows.
Tonight, Friday March 23rd, it’s Ohio’s Lovedrug at Backbooth. They are playing in support of their excellent new album – read our review here: Wild Blood review. Cretin will be there to review the show. You can also check out Cretin’s interview with Lovedrug’s Michael Sheppard here.
For you 70’s Rock And Roll Animals – the Guess Who are at Epcot all weekend. Those shows are typically fun, but do require park admission.
On Saturday, it’s Alternative rockers Blue October at House of Blues, and more interesting to me, Chuck Ragan playing “The Revival Tour” at The Social. We saw Ragan open up for Social Distortion in November, and he put on a great show. His album, Covering Ground was also in our Top albums of 2011. The guys are in Jacksonville at Jack Rabbit’s the following night.
On Monday, it’s Atlanta’s The Black Lips at The Social, and they are supporting their latest album Arabia Mountain, and they are rumored to be fantastic live.
Thursday Hard Rock Live features Snow Patrol, and over at the main Hotel, it’s Hard Rock’s Velvet Sessions with Tonic; then they visit Williams Park in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
Friday 3/30, you HazelNuts can catch Sister Hazel at House of Blues. It’s the perfect-sized venue for the semi-local crew from Gainesville, who usually put on a good show.
Then on Saturday, The Red Hot Chili Peppers close out the month at the big house at Amway Center.
Friday – two different ends of the spectrum, with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing at Tampa Bay Times Forum and the aforementioned Black Lips at Orpheum. We’ve seen Bruce many times, and he’s great live, but I’d be inclined to check out the Black Lips this day.
Sunday you can take a “Slow Ride” with Foghat at Screwy Louie’s Porpoise Pub.
Wednesday 3/28, it’s hot Alt-Rockers The Naked and Famous at State Theater in St. Pete.
Thursday, RHCP hits Tampa at the TImes Forum.
Friday, the 30th, Blue October hits the West Coast with a show at Jannus Live. All of The Parrotheads will be inland at the Ask-Gary Amphitheater in Tampa. Here’s our review of last month’s Buffet Show in Orlando to whet your appetite.