Music & Nightlife - Staff Picks
Published: July 18, 2012
Best skyline drinking
180 Grey Goose Lounge
400 W. Church St., 407-440-7180, 180downtown.com
If you're afraid of heights, stay away: Aptly named after its striking 180-degree view of downtown Orlando, this chic sanctuary sits at the top of Amway Center's spire. It's open year-round – not just for concerts and sporting games – which makes it a fantastic spot to start your evening out on the town. The elevator shoots you up into an attractive Manhattan-inspired indoor space, complete with a clean, under-lit bar top, and local DJs spin tunes to create the vibe. Step outside onto the terrace and you can not only grab a flavored martini, but also a sparkling snapshot of the downtown skyline. It's hard to beat a view like that, and with weekly cocktail specials and no cover charge, 180 is at the top of our list when we want a venue that'll give us that big-city feel while barely leaving our own backyard.
Best honorary local band
The Cleveland Scene calls them "the best band in Cleveland," but we know the truth about Mr. Gnome: They're an Orlando band at heart. That's why the duo of singer-guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer Sam Meister have played the City Beautiful five times since 2009, electrifying Backbooth or Will's Pub each time – and causing OW music critic Bao Le-Huu to shit himself with pleasure. Of course, they play a lot of cities, so is Orlando even special to them anymore?
"We really do enjoy the music scene and people in Orlando," Barille says. "And there are an unusual amount of ultra right-wing conservative billboards on the highway when you're driving into the city."
The pair will perform next at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in their nominal hometown on Aug. 1, but they've remained star-struck with O-town ever since day one.
"We were leaving Backbooth after our first show there and saw Lil' Wayne chillin' outside of a bar in downtown Orlando," Barille says. "Sam screeched on the brakes and shouted, 'Lil' Wayne!?' It was awesome."
Best music festival
Orange You GladMusic Festival
The long-awaited, full-scale return of Orlando's most significant indie-rock festival still standing turned out to be well worth the wait with an eye-poppingly ambitious comeback. Thanks to a partnership with indie booking force Parafora Presents, Orange You Glad re-emerged on the next level with the best national lineup seen here this year (Cults, Tennis, Grimes, Zambri, Caveman, the Big Sleep, Mr. Gnome, et al.) as its anchor. It all culminated to make OYG the city's smartest parade of cool currently active.