By: Kevin Renard
Last Saturday was a day of mourning for me. I had missed out on Beach House and Emperor X both playing in Orlando on Friday. First I went through the turmoil of trying to choose between the two shows, only for me to not be able to go to either. But God bless Gainesville, because it did its best to make it up to me with a showcase of its homegrown indie rock.
Now I have to explain, because for each band, my photos come from primarily one angle, which is typically frowned upon. But by the time Endless Pools had finished their first song, I knew it was going to be more important that I just take it all in, like a plant in direct sunlight. Of course The Backyard’s darker lighting didn’t help, or the fact that my shoes had melted into the floor.
That’s the kind of instantaneous effect Endless Pools had. Dripping psychedelic reverb paired well with Jacob Adam’s deep, haunting voice that would’ve been right at home among Gothic or post-punk artists of decades past. Trying to pin down bands like this to one genre is pretty boring, and I’d end up underselling how good I think they are; though the four piece band does wear a lot of their influences on their sleeve, they prove themselves talented enough to blend their textures of psych rock, dream pop, and features of other genres like shoegaze into a very, very impressive live sound. Their cover of Toadies’ “Possum Kingdom” was a meticulous blend of dark and dreamy, and I can’t over exaggerate how badly I want to see them play it again. To call their performances just “tight” would be an injustice, each member was genuinely impressive.
The next band were the out-of-towners, Someday River, hailing from a city I’m all too familiar with: Orlando, FL. They gave a hint at their style without playing any music by supplying their own stage decoration, creating an atmosphere of their own from the get-go. It wasn’t much, and I’ve definitely seen the spinning multicolor light that sat behind the drummer in a few dorm rooms, but along with a small fog machine and clamp-lamps with blue light bulbs, it helped add to the atmosphere advanced by Greyson Charnock’s hazy vocals. Get more bands to use fog machines 2017. The three-piece created a sound far more textured and interesting than bands with twice the number of members, and while I was being mesmerized once again, I couldn’t help but be thankful that they didn’t go down the lo-fi bedroom pop or garage rock route. It would’ve been accessible and easy, but instead they opt for a hazy, smoother sound of psych and pop. Being a kid that grew up in the Orlando area, this band made me pretty happy.
Last to perform was The Mermer’s, closing out the night with a nostalgic sound true to the surf rock movement of the 60s onward. Their musical basis is purely instrumental, but the band did make amazing use of a prerecorded intro and outro of a deep, spooky voice that’d fit into any cheesy black and white horror film— and I loved it. Tony Tones (the only person I had high expectations for because of his performance in Boyfriend Material) handled segueing tracks together with altered clips from cult classic movies, the most potent for me being the Abby Normal scene from Young Frankenstein, but others from the likes of Austin Powers and Dude, Where’s My Car? didn’t fail to put a ridiculous grin on my face. At first I thought it was all a little heavy handed, but that feeling didn’t last, because it proved to be well-crafted to match with their haunting surf rock sound. The drive behind each song was hard to pin down in all honesty, because even though I’d say the most recognizable sound of surf rock is the unmissable reverb heavy guitar riffs, the band’s organist, drummer, and bassist did just as much for each and every song. The Mermer’s music is cut and dried fun, but relying on good ol’ talent and expertise rather than a gimmick that gets old.
Calling this all just indie rock feels too basic, but calling it psych rock would to just name a thing they had in common. In the end, each of the three bands had a sound all their own, yet they all fit together nicely. All of it just further legitimized to me Gainesville’s and Florida’s musical prowess.