May 6-7 – Funk Fest featuring LL Cool J, 8 Ball & MJG, Master P, Dru Hill and Z-Trip at Metropolitan Park
While this may very well be the most inappropriately named festival in human history, its lineup is taking me all the way back to 8th grade. In fact, after revisiting Master P’s groundbreaking hit, ‘Make Em Say Ugh,’ I was taken on one hell of a flashback to dropped pickup trucks with as much bass and speaker power as $5.15 an hour could afford. Back to the good ol’ days when beats were written with massive bass in mind. Most of it is downright ridiculous in retrospect, but man, was it everything back then. If you were of an impressionable age in the mid-nineties, might I entice you to take a trip down memory lane? Revisit some of this stuff whether you attend the concert or not. Don’t sleep on 8 Ball & MJG though, dang!
Uri Caine is a Grammy-nominated pianist and composer but if you look him up on Spotify, his profile picture is with ?uestlove which instantly gives him all the cred he’ll ever need. Now that you’ve decided this may be worth your time, you’ll want to be in attendance for the free (yes, free) performance at the Main Library this month, presented by Avant, a new musical series aimed at satisfying the adventurous listener’s curiosity around experimental music. While the term avant-garde can be broadly applied to a considerable range of music that spans from the purely improvisational to the carefully-orchestrated-but-well-over-my-head, Avant’s mission is to present, for lack of a better word, approachable experimental music. That means you can put aside your fears that any of their performances will be of the abrasive, intentionally offensive variety. Avant’s programming will bring people towards experimental music rather than turn away all but the most out-there. Mr. Caine’s compositions seem downright classical at times, jazzy at others, and really only a little weird at all. So if you’re feeling adventurous, give this a go and see if you’re down to take the red pill.
Pony Time sound like a really fun, punky garage band, but I’m pretty excited to hear Death Loop Quartet. Last night I shared a beer with Justin, the bass player, and probed him to answer that dreaded, age-old question: “What’s it sound like?” I have a hard time believing that every band and band member doesn’t have at least two obvious influences in their head that they just don’t want to say out loud, but it’s always the case that it takes at least a few sentences of exposition before spitting them out. I do it too. Justin mentioned personal influences for himself and Jordan, but none that really unified the band. In fact, the more he described it, the less of an idea I was left with, which I often find is the perfect place to be when approaching something new. What I do know is that these are talented musicians who have been honing this project for at least six months before putting it in front of a crowd, a commendable approach that the audience will no doubt appreciate. Expect psych-tinged melodies, droney repetition, and technical grace.
May is clearly the month for nostalgia as the freaking Deftones swing through Northeast Florida! Deftones are one of those bands that get unfairly associated with other bands that were trending in the mid to late nineties. The kind of stuff one might be ashamed to confess at appreciating, like 311 or Incubus or something. But when you go back and give it an objective listen, it passes the test—it’s ok, you were right all along. Their contemporary relevance is supported by their (or someone’s, at least) choice of opener. Code Orange (formerly Code Orange Kids) are one of the greatest, hardest-working hardcore bands on the road today. I’ve been a fan since I booked them at Burro on a whim several years ago, and they lived up to their self-described abrasive doominess. They’ve been back through town many times over since then and have garnered a large and well-deserved following. But I digress. Even much of Deftones newer stuff is better-than-decent and White Pony was badass enough to make up for it even if it weren’t. With as forceful a resurgence both heavy music and shoegaze have experienced lately, it’s a surprise they aren’t leading the charge even more than they are.
After a couple disastrously boneheaded moves, the powers-that-be got wise and made the (right) decision to return Jazz Fest to the core. Anyone who’s made it a point to participate in a true downtown Jacksonville Jazz Fest likely looks back at it as a fond memory, exemplifying what’s possible for the city’s core. It’s that critical mass of people having a good time in what feels, if for a moment, a cool city that has cool things happening to it. It’s powerful enough to convert even the fiercest cynic. Cool things have come and gone in the past, but Jazz Fest remains, and even if you aren’t that into jazz per se, it’s always a good time. You may actually be surprised to learn that the original Jazz Fest took place in Mayport and was kind of a mini-Woodstock in its day. There are some awesome YouTube videos of a sweaty Dizzy Gillespie in a size-too-small t-shirt getting nasty as all hell on the trumpet. Watching it, you get the sense that something was seriously happening at this moment. Some people took a huge chance on putting it together that paid off big time. While this year’s festival may not be that perfect moment in history, the lineup is one of the more impressive bills in quite some time. If nothing else, Jazz Fest will always be a reliably good time when downtown feels like a lively place and everyone feels all neighborly and whatnot.
June 7 – Refused, The Coathangers, Plague Vendor at Maverick’s
Confession time, I’m a little on the fence when it comes to Refused’s reunion. Their initial festival circuit reunion tour swung through Atlanta a few years ago, and it was killer. Since then they’ve released another album that I haven’t been able to get on board with. I haven’t given it ample time to be fair but then again, The Shape of Punk to Come was one of those albums that immediately grabbed you, possibly changed your life, and likely never left you. For some perspective, the album came out in 1998 but it wasn’t until 2004 that it was featured in Friday Night Lights, a movie about high school football in Texas of all things. Here we are almost 20 years later, and that album remains one you can put on, listen all the way through and still get the same feeling you did as a kid. But like I said, I don’t get any of that from the new stuff. I’ll certainly give it some more time and I’ll likely go just to scream along while I still have the energy to do so. Even if you also decide that the new stuff isn’t all that great, it’s worth suffering through to get to that genre-defying radness that made them such brief darlings of an ever-evolving punk scene.
May 6 – In Dying Arms, Convictions, A Wake in Providence at Burro Bar
May 8 – Mudtown, SS Webb at Burro Bar
May 10 – Sticky FIngers at Jack Rabbits
May 10 – Jarhead Fertilizer, LA-A, Cave Moth, Marsellus, Virgin Flower at Burro Bar
May 11 – The Front Bottoms, Brick + Mortar, Diet Cig at Mavericks
May 13 – Paradigm Rift, Master Radical, Dr. Sirbrother at Burro Bar
May 17 – Shakey Graves, Son Little at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
May 19 – Agnostic Front, Coldside, Rhythm of Fear at 1904 Music Hall
May 20 – Foals at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
May 22 – Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
May 26 – Modern English at Burro Bar
May 29 – Salt-n-Pepa, Kid’n Play, Coolio, Tone Loc, Color Me Badd at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
May 31 – Detriment, Vatican, Heavens Die at Burro Bar
Jun 3 – Junior Bruce, LA-A, Shadow Hunter, Cougin at Burro Bar
Jun 5 – Greaver, Youth League at Burro Bar
Jun 6 – Alejandro Escovedo at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Jun 10 – The So So Glo’s at 1904
Jun 11 – Weird Al Yankovic: The Mandatory World Tour at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Jun 12 – Cyndi Lauper at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Jun 14 – Death Cab for Cutie, CHVRCHES at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Jun 17 – Chris Cornell at Florida Theatre
Jun 20 – Hivelords, Set and Setting, Yashira, Shadow Hunter at Burro Bar
Jun 21 – Castle, Hollow Leg, Ghostwitch, Black Stache at Burro Bar
Jun 25 – Richie Ramone, Electric Water, Teenage Lobotomy, Status Faux at Burro Bar
Jun 28 – letlive., Silver Snakes at 1904
Jul 9 – Culture Club at Morocco Shrine Auditorium
Aug 31 – Goo Goo Dolls, Collective Soul, Tribe Society at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Sep 10 – Brian Wilson at St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Nov 5 – Porch Fest at Klutho Park