BY CELIA ALMEIDA
A little rain and wind from Tropical Storm Isaac wasn’t enough to keep music fans away from Gainesville’s own AM/FM Music Showcase.
Sunday’s showcase was the fifth installment of the one-day local music festival named for being “About Music/For Music”. Organizers Dante Lima, Marshal Patrick, and Jose Peruyero – all local musicians – continued their efforts to put on a free showcase of the town’s best talent in what was their most solid and successful event to date.
The Showcase continues to grow as community buzz builds and more bands want to get in on the action. The organization of the Showcase itself has also improved, as experience putting it on has rendered idle time between sets practically non-existent.
Music blasted out of 8 Seconds and throughout downtown continuously from 3 p.m. to midnight on Sunday.
AM/FM Volume 5 yielded performances from both new and familiar faces, and some shape shifting bands in between.
Last time Annie Neimand played AM/FM, she sat and played songs on ukelele in a charming floor set leaning heavily on covers with her band Annie and the Canyon. This go-around, her sound was nearly unrecognizable as the leader of the revamped soul outfit Annie and the Heart Burglars. Neimand commanded attendees’ full attention as she jumped and danced around the stage belting her powerful voice to the audience and her band mates alike. Her confidence and freedom on stage were truly inspiring to behold and worthy of the spotlight of the main stage.
She and the Heart Burglars – Scott Kauffmann and Fletcher Yancey of Pseudo Kids on drums and bass respectively, Ryan Backman (formerly of the Boswellians) on keyboards, and Chris Hillman of Morningbell and Deputy on guitar – finished their set with a surprise cover of the Temptations’ “Get Ready” in what was to become one of the highlights of the entire day’s events. AM/FM organizer Dante Lima joined in on tambourine on stage. It was one of his many guest appearances throughout the night.
It was one of those “sucks to follow that” sets, but AM/FM first-timers Young Hookers lived up to the challenge. Though the contrast in genres was drastic, their frenetic drums and aggressive vocals by George Sanchez simply could not be denied, and many of those headed for the exits for a quick break from the music quickly stopped, stayed, and kept listening.
“First I want you all to give it up for Young Hookers. Now I want you all to give it up for the band called Young Hookers.” With that, Truck Thunders of Deputy made his scuzzy presence known as he went on to play songs like “The Ballad of Truck Thunders” and a song with a riff tailor-made to be a stripper walk-on song, “Lil’ Devils”.
While bands like Young Hookers, Deputy, and Daggerz were there for fans of harder rock, AM/FM also offered up acts for the folkies.
The showcase featured performances by Nook and Cranny, the Adult Boys Thunderband, Devon Stuart, and Michael Claytor, who played through technical difficulties with his banjo to perform Paul Simon’s classic “Graceland” with Sam Moss of Hundred Waters.
Indie rock fans were treated to the reintroduction of Fletcher Yancey as a member of Pseudo Kids. The lineup shifted and stayed in healthy shape while he was away, but the juxtaposition of Scott Kauffmann’s introspective lyrics and Yancey’s analytical storytelling set to upbeat tempos and pop melodies has always been what gives Pseudo Kids their unique identity. The set, including fan favorites “The Mess We’ve Made”, “Hard to Be”, and “Car Crash Blues” (the latter two can be found on their new EP release Stay Glad) was one of their best ever.
AM/FM organizers really did save the best for last with the final two main stage acts of the night.
First up was Dark Horse, the new piano driven soul/pop band fronted by Collin Whitlock of the Shitty Beatles and the Slims. Whitlock is without a doubt one of the best frontmen and overall showmen in Gainesville, and though the band played two shows this past weekend (they opened for his own Shitty Beatles on Friday night at High Dive) they had plenty of energy left for AM/FM. Dark Horse is promoting the release of their first album, The Destroyer, with all songs written and performed by Whitlock.
Finally, Bang Bang Boom was wisely picked to close out the show, as they are one of, if not the best, live act in town. They took their high energy act from playing one of the best live sets this town has ever seen at the AM/FM pre-party at Loosey’s for Volume 4, to closing out the night for Volume 5. The band was in tight shape, as they’ve just returned from tour. Unfortunately, many fans were exhausted from the day’s action and headed home early, missing some of their set.
Many of those who did stick it out, however, didn’t want the fun to end, so they headed over to Loosey’s for impromptu unplugged performances from the likes of Devon Stuart, Dante Lima, Scott Kauffmann and even Ricky Kendall, who was not on the AM/FM lineup.
Gainesville’s AM/FM showcase was born out of a desire to bring the local music community even closer and to further inspire collaboration within it. One need only look to the fan sing-a-longs at Loosey’s after the show and musicians like Chris Hillman and Scott Kauffmann, both of whom were tied at playing in four different bands at AM/FM, to recognize that these goals are being reached.