A night of indie rock in (and around) Arts on 9th
Friday night in Ybor City. A healthy crowd is watching the Beauvilles and others at New World Brewery. A sparse crowd is mingling around a Shunda K. mixtape release party at Czar. There's metal at the Orpheum.
Unfortunately, there's so much interesting stuff happening outside Arts on 9th that I end up spending much of my time between sets roaming around Ybor -- so much so, in fact, that I end up missing half of the Deleted Scenes' set. Oops. They tend to frown upon that in Concert Reviewing School.
However, I never graduated from Concert Reviewing School -- I was tossed out three credits short, for getting the school mascot drunk during a fraternity panty raid gone awry* -- and I never even bothered to get my CRSED (Concert Reviewing School Equivalency Degree). Which means I am 100 percent qualified to write a substandard-quality concert review.
So here we go!
Arts on 9th is a not-for-profit converted warehouse located -- wait for it -- on Ninth Avenue, just around the corner of the backside of Centro Ybor. There's a little shop, a little gallery -- which, on this night, is showcasing an exhibit of photography; wildlife, sea life, scenes from a journalist's trip to China -- and an event space with a stage framed by red velvet curtains.
Do not be fooled by the vaguely chichi, almost bistro-sounding name, "Arts on 9th." It is -- and I say this with all due respect for what the proprietors have tried to create -- a lot like a garage. Or a warehouse. Or an unfinished basement.
Stuff is piled everywhere, shoveled into corners and leaning against the walls. There are chairs stacked over here. Boxes over there. Ladders lying on their sides. Co-founder Jeff Svajdlenka is in the back, doling out cans of Bud and Bud Light from a row of plastic tubs (suggested donation: $2). I even see shop-vac. A shop-vac!
I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing. Just know that it definitely doesn't look like a mainstream concert venue. If you like concerts in garages, warehouses and unfinished basements -- and sometimes those concerts are awesome -- you might just love this place.
What this is, clearly, is an artspace: A place where artists can come and try interesting, unusual performances, be they theatrical (Bathhouse: The Musical on June 18), cultural (cigar-rolling classes) or metal (a concert by Soulidium).
And hey, you know who loves artspaces? Indie rock bands. Jangly, lo-fi, unfussy indie rock bands whose fans like standing a minimum of 15 feet from the stage at all times.
First up was Beardsley, a Clearwater sextet that reminded me of some Britrock band that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Doves? The Bees? Blur? Kula Shaker? They seem maybe 85 percent polished, but their songs are technically inventive and totally catchy. A band to keep an eye on.
The Pauses, from Orlando, came on third, with a set heavy on keyboard riffs and honeyed female vocals. A bit like the Postmarks, I'd say. They should come back more often.
Deleted Scenes actually played second, which is how I ended up missing part of their show. What I heard was pretty good, if you're into that bouncy, Modest Mouse-Birdmonster-Wheat sound.
But I absolutely have to give credit to the band for coming up with one of the cleverest promos I've seen. They were selling an array of old '80s and '90s cassingles, by artists like Elvis Costello, Hootie and the Blowfish and Alice Cooper -- only they had recorded over the original music with two of their own tracks, Suicide Sunday and Ithaca (Autorock remix). Buy the cassette for $2, and you also get downloads of both songs for free. Here's what they looked like:
Like I said, such a fun idea. I bought Donny Osmond, My Love is a Fire.
Arts on 9th, is a fun idea too, I suppose -- though I don't think anyone would complain if the whole "unfinished basement" look ever got a little more finished.
Once it does, a few more music fans might migrate in from around Ybor City.
Next up in The 50-50 Club: Bon Iver, June 10, the State Theatre, St. Petersburg.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*
* Note to self: Screenplay!