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Saturday Night: Mumpsy, Surfer Blood, and XOXO at Propaganda

The Orlando Invasion
Mumpsy, with Surfer Blood and XOXO
Saturday, June 14, 2009
Propaganda, Lake Worth

Better Than:
Drinking freshly squeezed OJ with Japanese Tourists.

The Review:

O-town is famed for being the primary residence of the world's most renowned mouse, and for spewing out annoyingly cutesy boy bands. So can anything remotely musically worthwhile come out of this tourist death trap town? The answer, it appears, is yes.

On Saturday night, two bands from Orlando's eclectic, burgeoning music scene took the stage in Lake Worth's speakeasy spot Propaganda. They made believers out of even the most cynical of the indie South Floridian lot.   

First on the bill was the quartet XOXO. For a band sharing a name with a women's clothing line, they sure didn't seem to put much thought into their civvies. Guitarist/vocalist Noah Kussack dressed in ripped jean shorts that appeared to date from 1985, and bassist Kyle Raker sported some serious flood runners. Hey, these guys are all about putting on a skippy good show rather than looking rock band chic -- kudos for that. 

The band proceeded to dish out some seriously chirpy tunes that were

heavily reliant on their M-Audio keyboard. Throw in some chiming

guitars and driving basslines, with just the right amount of ooh la las

interjected, and you've got an infectious 30 minutes on your hands.

Fittingly enough the Silversun Pickups' "Lazy Eye" blasted through the speakers as the only local band of the night, the West Palm Beach quartet Surfer Blood, set up. The band recently went through a name change (the band was formerly known as TV Club) and a fine-tuning of its line-up (only two original members remain). Still, these fresh-faced boys have been proving they are a sonic force to be reckoned with around the Palm Beaches.

Before ripping into a heavily distorted set which drew inspirations from many of our post-punk idols (Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3, et. al.) they gave each other an affectionate smooch on the cheek. Songs like "Slow Gabronie" and "Harmonix" expelled squalling fuzz into the audience's ear canals as lead singer JP sang in a baritone that sounded like a cross between Frank Black and Ian Curtis.

Most of what these kids dish out is comparable to the louder, more cathartic moments from Pixies tunes 00 no quieter moments to be found in this set, folks. And during set ender "Catholic Pagans," JP, in a moment of sheer revelry, jumped onto the drum kit and left his guitar in lingering riff mode, a la My Bloody Valentine. Ahh, to be 19 again.

After an unusually long break, Orlando foursome Mumpsy took the stage with squelching feedback that overtook the sound system. Already darlings of the Orlando press, the band has played multiple shows at Orlando's premier music joint, the Social. These jittery rockers want nothing more than to spread their raucous, Kinks influenced sound throughout Florida and beyond. 

On opener "Cat and Canary," frontman Jeff Ilgenfritz ripped some serious chords out from under his sweet looking Rickenbacker. "Holy Roller" offered more punchy hooks, as Ilgenfritz sang in his twangy manner between Pabst Blue Ribbon chugs. Mumpsy's simple four-chord nuggets proved easy to warm up to.

Even "The Emperor," a song admittedly about crystal meth, drew cheers amongst the crowd (don't forget we are in Lake Worth after all.) The raucous "What the Fuck is Wrong," a tune about "real assholes," was a spiraling high velocity number that vindicated all the Central Florida ink shed on these quirky dudes.

Towards the end of the set, Ilgenfritz announced that most of the songs heard are available for free online on the band's website as part of other their latest album, Mortgaging Our Future for Right Now. It was a chance for the smitten crowd to later relish the memories.

Goes to show, you can never judge a book. Orlando has more to offer than just some good OJ and death-defying roller coasters.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I'm still a sucker for expertly delivered post-punk tunes.

Random Detail: In 2007, Mumpsy released a kickass album of 13 Misfits' covers as part of a fundraiser for the Autism Society of Greater Orlando

By The Way: Both Mumpsy and Surfer Blood have new albums coming out in July, called Posturing and Astro Coast, respectively. Look for them at your favorite independent record store.

-- Alex Rendon

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