By: Jack Twachtman | Guest Editor
Let’s face it, Jacksonville is not known for staying up on the trends. Once upon a time, one could blame their ignorance on the fact that many touring bands completely skip Jacksonville, if not Florida altogether, when planning their tour schedules. But we live in the digital age, so there’s really no longer any excuse for remaining in the dark when it comes to staying relevant.
That being said, there are more than a few acts doing their best to stay with the times. The following bands may not be on your radar yet, but they best resemble the current state of popular music and stand the best chance of breaking out beyond the Duval County borders.
I have seen a few garage rock bands come and go over the years, but none possessed the raw energy and attitude or “gotten it” as good as The Mold. Chances are, if there’s a Burger Records band in town, The Mold will be playing with them and even more likely partying with them until the wee hours of the morning while the rest of us are in bed. So loosen up, attend one of their lo-fi, keyboard-driven garage punk freak-outs and get with it already.
There’s an old saying that everything old is new again and while Matt and Trent of Burnt Hair have been longtime appreciators of the gothier side of things, the critics and the masses are just now boarding the train and scouring the used bins for old Christian Death albums. Joy Division T-shirts are now as ubiquitous as skinny jeans and the city witch is the new indie chick. Burnt Hair prove that all you need to make something interesting is a drum machine, a couple keyboards, effects and some pain.
I’ll admit, the first two recommendations aren’t for everyone, but it just so happens that well-executed indie rock is still trending as well. Enter Civil Brute, affectionately known as Civ Biv to those in the know, a band that crafts music worthy of the fiercest critic’s praise. Led by the burly yet charming Colin Adkins and featuring members of such local stalwarts as Opiate Eyes and Sea Cycles, I never tire of watching them belt out fresh, subtly complex songs that stay in your head for days. If there is justice on the universe, this band will break through, just you watch!
This one may come as a surprise to those who know my preferred tastes, but in the end, there’s just no denying a good melody and professional musicianship. Fort Stories bring a catchy, nay, infectious emo quality to their brand of indie pop and I mean that in the sincerest and most flattering way. With dueling male/female vocals and a full, well-rounded sound, their songs are almost anthemic; they’re skill, and it’s undeniable. And they’re all ridiculously genuine, nice people who seem to be in it for the love of the music alone, but that doesn’t stop them from being focused on succeeding as a band.
Oh yeah, I’m in a band too. It’s called Fjord Explorer. Feel free to check it out.
Where to Go
While I strongly recommend making it a point to check out one or more of the aforementioned bands, there are plenty more groups out there killing it on a regular basis. To sample Jacksonville’s local music scene, there’s really no better destination than downtown where at least one of the three music venues that make up The Elbow host live music from local and touring bands just about any night of the week. Burro Bar, 1904 Music Hall and Underbelly set the standard for live music and are all within walking distance of each other. Check out theelbowjax.com for info on upcoming events and links to each venue. Be sure to also check out neighborhood gems like Shantytown Pub in Springfield and Rain Dogs in Five Points, both of which offer cheap shows and a laid back atmosphere.
Jack Twachtman is the Managing Partner at BREW Five Points, Owner/Partner at Burro Bar and Vice President at Burro Bags.