Show Review: Buff Clout, Antarctic, Victor! Fix the Sun and Pisces at the Animal Fair

by Jack Diablo
July 17-18, 2009
It’s no secret that my two favorite local bands are Buff Clout and Antarctic. I’ve mentioned both on my blog, JaxScene, here at EU and on Urban Jacksonville Weekly. So, when I found out both were playing a show (a free one at that) at Shantytown, I knew it was going to be a great night for music. What I didn’t know, is how incredibly awesome the other two out-of-town bands that appeared were going to be!
The first, Pisces at the Animal Fair, was a band from Elmhurst, IL. Their set was a hodgepodge of progressive styles, fusing indie, prog, post-punk and experimental. The music itself was impressive enough to keep me entertained, but after positioning myself to catch a view of the lead singer/guitarist play, I was blown away. He shredded with highly technical hammer-ons, slides and insane neck-work. When a band kicks things off with that kind of a performance, you know you made the right choice.
Victor! Fix the Sun took the stage next and wowed us all with their high-energy post-punk. Picking up where Refused left off, VFTS know how to move the crowd. The guitarist was a ball of energy, jumping and dancing around the small playing area. It was amazing he was able to play the way he did without missing notes or breaking something, particularly his own face. And the momentum never slowed. They were so good, in fact that I was able to convince some friends to ride with me to St. Augustine where they played a second show with Antarctic at Nobby’s the next night. The Nobby’s show was equally amazing despite four, yes four, blown breakers. Whereas most bands would pull the plug after say two technical meltdowns, Victor! Fix the Sun took them all in stride, determined not to let the crowd of sure-to-be new fans down. Even the most critical people I know were impressed and are still talking about this band. You should check them out!
Every time I see Antarctic play live, I am blown away. There are about as many post-rock/space-rock (whatever you want to call it) bands around these days as their are stars in the sky, and a lot of them are cut from the same mold. But Antarctic manages to deliver unique instrumental progressive rock as if it were in their blood or somehow coded into their DNA. While Explosions In the Sky can be somewhat boring at times, Antarctic keeps it loud and fast, unrelentingly wowing audiences with their sprawling tunes that could go anywhere at any time. It can be difficult to keep the crowd’s attention without lyrics and Antarctic has only one “whoo!” which every true fan knows and shouts in unison. Seriously, one of the most rad bands on the scene, hands down!
And of course, closing the night was Buff Clout. I honestly can’t say enough about these two guys. Each is quite possibly one of the most technically proficient musicians on their respective instruments that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, not to mention extremely nice and down to earth dudes. Normally, musicians of that caliber come across as pretentious and snooty but Buff Clout are just that good and like to have a good time doing what they do. For this show, Blake rolled out some carpet and set up his pedals in the middle of the bar allowing the audience to gather ’round and drool at his mind-blowing guitar-work. Meanwhile, Devin (looking only slightly less than Frank Zappa after cutting a few inches off of his mane) blasted across the drum kit at super-sonic speeds as both somehow managed to stay together despite time changes and syncopation few mortal souls could even conceive. You may not understand their song titles but what you will most certainly take away from one of their shows is mad respect for keeping the Jacksonville music scene infused with such new and exciting sounds.
As I mentioned, we were so blown away by the show that we followed two of the bands to St. Augustine the next night. It was a tough decision as the other two, Buff Clout and PAAF, also played together the next night in Gainesville. Although either performance would have been worthwhile, it’s a decision I hope I never have to make again.
You need to catch as many Buff Clout shows as you can before they hit the road for a never-ending tour in the near future. Their next show is at Doozer’s Pub on July 28th with four other awesome Florida bands followed by the re-opening of The Pit on August 5th. Antarctic isn’t leaving town anytime soon that I’m aware of, but you should still go see them when they play St. Augustine’s Nobby’s again on August 9th or Eclipse on September 6th.

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