By: Kelsa Ross
Will’s Pub, an anchor for independent music in downtown Orlando, is no stranger to impressive musical acts. It was easy to see why Ugly Orange chose this killer venue to host their event on March 15, 2017. Past pinball machines and through a large archway is a room hosting a stage and dance floor, big enough to comfortably hold a crowd, but still intimate. The grungy, punk venue was covered in graffiti and the stickers of different bands that have played the pub over the years. That night it was decorated like an 80’s prom, complete with balloons, shimmering colored tinsel, and a shining disco ball. It was just the right setting for the evening’s lineup.
First on the docket were Orlando locals, The Welzeins. This two-piece kicked off the night like a nuclear warhead with their driving, powerful energy that delivered a full sound not often found in bands even twice their size. Consisting of a drummer and guitarist/vocalist, The Welzeins shook the crowd with a style that easily transitioned between original punk rock, at times resembling The Clash, and the modern grunge/punk rock of today. These guys spit in the face of anyone who thinks a two-piece can’t be the boldest, tightest, hardest-rocking band on the bill.
The Welzeins rockin’ at Will’s Pub. These guys bring the roof down wherever they go.
TV Dinner took the stage next, going on to deliver a set that lived up to their reputation as one of Orlando’s premier acts. Opening with the line “I stuck my head in an Easy Bake Oven,” this twee-pop foursome of guitarist/lead vocalist, synth/back-up vocalist, bass, and drums, mixed happy childhood memories with the harsh reality of growing up. Their harmonies were tight and their sound possessed an earthy happy groove with bouncing rock vibes. TV Dinner’s stage presence seemed as if they were playing to old friends and they had me singing their songs the entire ride home.
TV Dinner making the night pop off at Will’s Pub.
Gainesville local favorites, DONKNG represented next. These mellow punks never fail to have the entire venue vibing to their relentless flow between smooth jazzy grooves and in-your-face rock and roll. The chemistry was palpable between this three-piece group of guitarist/vocalist, bass, and drums and their presence was cool, confident, and laid-back. DONKNG’s sound continues to develop into an inimitable mixture of intricate, technical musicianship and the dirty, rebellious foundation that rock is built upon.
DONKNG bringing some Gainesville love to Will’s Pub.
Nice Try, a band from Indiana that is lighting up the southeast on a spring break tour, finished up the night with a sound unlike any I’ve heard before. Joanna Newsom vocals with a sunshine yellow vibe and a driving surf punk rock edge is the closest that I can get to describing this sick threesome of guitarist/vocalist, bass, and drums. Nice Try was engaging and comfortable on stage and grooved with the ease of a band that has been together for decades.
Nice Try showing everyone how it’s done on the Will’s Pub stage.
It’s no surprise that, once again, Ugly Orange brought together some of the tightest bands around in order to present a night of hard rock, mellow grooves, and unrelenting energy that was well worth the drive to and from Orlando on a school night.