Music & Nightlife - Staff Picks
Published: July 18, 2012
Best improved concert calendar
The Peacock Room
For better or for worse, the Peacock Room's event calendar has always been a mixed bag. While that adds to the bar's charm, eclecticism and accessibility, it doesn't always lend itself to consistent quality. However, the knowledge, taste and scene connectivity of new bartender Phil Longo has given the bar's show calendar its most potent shot of freshness in many years, upping the menu with a higher caliber of folk, country, punk, metal and indie rock.
Best underutilized concert space
Wally's parking lot
Cumbersome logistics abound any time you repurpose a space for an outside event involving live music and alcohol (permits, stage, sound, security, time restrictions, etc.). But Southern Fried Sunday and Orange You Glad Music Festival recently showed how surprisingly effective the parking lot for Wally's Mills Avenue Liquors could be for concerts. In the city's most budding cultural corridor, this alley lot is the ripest exterior event space on the strip to emerge so far. And the management of the O.G. dive bar tells us their ears are wide open when it comes to local music shows.
Best place to get wired
White Cup Coffeehouse
125 W. First St., Sanford
Downtown Sanford saw its cool factor rise exponentially this year, and on perhaps its coolest block lives this appropriately weird java hang. Local art adorns the walls; the specially roasted coffee beans pack an extra caffeine kick, and an open mic stands dauntingly to the side, awaiting fresh saliva, while the owner tinkers away at a refurbished guitar in a tiny workshop next to the bar. Yes, White Cup Coffeehouse will restring, retune and reanimate your used-up axes and even offers in-house lessons.
Mayer Hawthorne's/MGMT's Rock-afire Explosions
Several years ago, Aaron Fechter, creator of those animatronic singing bears (aka the Rock-afire Explosion) you may remember from when ShowBiz Pizza Place was an actual place, raised the band from the dead with a series of viral YouTube videos. Rediscovered interest in the countrified outfit culminated with an acclaimed 2008 documentary, and since then, Fechter's robots have been everywhere. A year after the doc, MGMT gave Rock-afire Explosion a cameo in their trippy video for "Electric Feel," and late last year, after locating the nondescript warehouse where the animatronic band is stored, we uncovered neo-soul act Mayer Hawthorne hanging out with Billy Bob, Rolfe and the others. By November, the sighting made more sense in the form of the band's video for Mayer Hawthorne's song "Dreaming," starring none other than the Rock-afire Explosion.