The Academy Is plays acoustic set at 1982


The Academy Is will play a special acoustic set on Tuesday at 1982.

Published: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 12:54 p.m.

There was a time when Fueled By Ramen records exemplified exactly what its name might suggest: a UF student John Janick brainstorming the makings of a record label under the influence, 20 cent microwavable meals, and spreading the gospel through low budget cassette samplers and mail order sales.

In the same vein, Janick and Vinnie Fiorello of Less Than Jake recruited bands that worked as hard as they did. Bands like The Impossibles (my favorite band in high school), Animal Chin, The Pietasters, and The Stereo.

These were bands that didn't have tour buses, didn't have name recognition, but played energetic music that drew ample amounts teens and had at best the minimum amount of fame to get a label off the ground. Then Fueled By Ramen found the Arizona-based Jimmy Eat World and released their first EP, and since the early 2000s they have carried some of the biggest names in modern rock.

Now for Fueled by Ramen, there's no more self-distributing, Atlantic Records take care of that. Street teams might have increased because of the label's popularity, but they are unnecessary, MTV takes care of their self-promotion. And the blue-collar, college-town dependent bands like the aforementioned were replaced with the likes of Paramore, Panic At The Disco, Cute Is What We Aim For, and A Rocket To The Moon. The mail order sales turned into platinum albums, the cassette samplers turned into millions of myspace hits, and that dorm room headquarter of FBR is now in New York City. That's growth. That's big time. That's the kind of story that would make Horatio Alger weep with pride.

The Academy Is, one of FBR's flagship bands, will be playing an acoustic set at 1982 Bar on Tuesday with label-mates The Cab. Their music is typical of a lot of the rock coming from the label. It's fast-paced power-chord rock with soaring, often strained vocals and '80s pop-influenced drum beats. Almost every song has an identifiable hook and standard verse/chorus/verse structure. And a wall of guitars is essential.

But this will not be a standard show, it will be an intimate acoustic setting. I can't foresee exactly how the songs might translate to acoustic guitars, sparse percussion and unadulterated vocals, but shows I've seen of this type are typically a chance for fans to get close and connect rather than an imaginative re-shaping of the material. With that being said, fans should come early because space at 1982 is limited. Doors open at 7 p.m.

While The Academy Is might best resemble today's pop music tradition, J.J. Grey and Mofro happily exist within the musical tradition of late 1960s and early '70s R&B and will play Common Grounds tonight. It's a fantastic era to draw from musically, and the influences here range from Otis Redding to Wilson Pickett to Sly and the Family Stone to fellow Jacksonville-native rockers The Allman Brothers Band.

Grey's guitar playing best resembles the late Albert King in its soul-blues essence, and the full horn section, backup singers, organist and assorted percussion are as tight as spandex. I haven't heard a blues band this polished since The Derek Trucks Band.

But those expecting the wild and gritty slide styles of Trucks or Duane Allman or the brightness of Dicky Betts will be disappointed. What they can expect is solid blues technique and a funky lick here and there. Grey's vocal work is shockingly powerful as it rumbles in the depths of his diaphragm only to be shot out through a cigarette filter for a pinch of rasp. It's as equally surprising as hearing Joe Cocker take Woodstock by storm, or hearing Gregg Allman belt the first few lines of "Statesboro Blues" at The Fillmore. His backup singers make many of the songs like "On Fire" classically soulful.

For anyone who adores the blues, or craves the raw, Southern soul sounds of 1960s Stax and Atlantic records, will be pleased to revel in the nostalgia and will be watching a Florida original prove that we indeed wear the badge of Southern roots music proudly and justly.

I've given you the modernists. I've given you the interpretive historian. Now I will give you something somewhere in between: The Chris McCarty Band. McCarty is another hard worker from Gainesville, a relentless promoter and consistent performer always looking to make another fan whether he's going door to door around campus to play songs or putting up signs for hometown gigs.

His popularity is well noted - sharing stages with the likes of Blues Traveler and The Dave Matthews Band - and that speaks loudly for his ability to create accessible, polished acoustic-rock in the image of those superiors.

Unfortunately I can't listen to him without thinking Ben Harper. Eventually that may stifle his progress as a musician. But his band is good and they love playing to hometown crowds, which means the show likely will be packed. They will headline the acoustic/alternative rock lineup of the Benjy Davis Project and Ernie Halter at Backstage Lounge on Friday.

Other notable shows for the week are Boss Lady and the Company, who will now be performing every Friday at Thai Fusion Cafe downtown near the Hippodrome State Theater.

Orlando-based reggae/ska band Made of Hemp will play at Market Street Pub on Saturday along with Gainesville reggae vets Mindrise. Made of Hemp are a young band with a strong following in this town and are likely to be familiar faces in Gainesville's reggae scene in the coming months.

Static Radio, purveyors of New Jersey punk, will reunite with Dirty Money on Sunday at 1982 Bar for an all out punk rock show, not uncommon to 1982 or Gainesville for that matter. I saw these two a few months ago and they rocked out.

And last but not least, if you want to catch an acoustic show but don't want to wait in line for The Academy Is, The Kickstand will host a lineup of Gainesville artists who demonstrate the introspective, innovative and quirky sides of the acoustic genre tonight. Brian Lugo, Lindsey Mills and White Elephant Gift Exchange, armed with her oboe, will perform.

There's lots to digest here music fans, but remember: Live music always beats the radio like rock always beats scissors, so get out and see a show.

Contact Dante Lima at danticus@ufl.edu.

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