This Little Underground
Our live music columnist visits Timucua White House for the first time and reviews live shows by Ice Cube and the Front Bottoms
Published: June 12, 2013
I’ve been meaning to check out a performance at the Timucua White House for, like, years now. Occurring at least weekly (usually Sundays) and almost always free (but donations always accepted), their live music/art events are enlightened and downright philanthropic. But in terms of music and community, a boozy rock club is more my element. And at the risk of sounding like a freak, I don’t especially relish what I imagine to be the jarring closeness and forced society of a fine-arts house show.
But the Civic Minded 5 – the local music presenter group, not the superhero posse in The Tick – was fundraising with a performance by legends Peter Brötzmann and Joe McPhee (June 3). Though I enjoy it, jazz, especially free jazz, isn’t my specialty. But I very much trust the CM5, and it was the ideal chance to finally take an adventure into one of the city’s most eminent beaux-arts cabals. So I balled up and went in to play nice with the intelligentsia.
The show itself was a complete brain splat. Personally, I prefer a little more order in my art, so it was a little abstract and esoteric for this here philistine. But the capriccios of bleats, drones and caterwauls were undeniably visceral. Going from exploration to full-on confrontation, this was something primal and state-altering. And though I was feeling my way through it like a blind, dumb puppy, the one thing I was categorically certain of is that something was happening here. What it ended up being was a deep, athletic, biology-changing journey.
As for all those reservations I had before, they vaporized when I stepped into Timucua’s music room, replaced wholly by awe. Though it’s part of a private residence, this mini theater is a real and proper performance space, as well-appointed as any professional venue in the city, probably more. A live music experience par excellence, it just doesn’t get any more intimate or serious than this. And though this particularly impressive full-house audience was there for a very special engagement, I get the strong feeling it was emblematic of the general ethos of the place, one where the gathered love their music enough to receive it with respect and rapt-ness. Imagine that.
The Timucua White House is an absolute treasure for the city. For every local seeker of real culture, it’s an imperative. Make your cultural existence richer and tune in to the happenings there (timucua.com). And when you go, don’t be a goddamned bum – bring some wine to share.
Unfortunately, the mega Big Boi/Killer Mike show (Plaza Live) was postponed until autumn, so Ice Cube (June 5, the Beacham) would have to fill that marquee hip-hop fix this week. Now, I don’t blame a brother for cashing in. However, it takes a little extra imagination to get into the gangsta charade when Are We There Yet? is so fresh in memory. But OK, I’ll play along. When the first notes of “Check Yo Self” finally drop on my ears at the same time a big waft of reefer smoke rolls under my nose, I’m thinking maybe it’s real enough. Ultimately, the set was a strategically curated greatest-hits parade complete with some N.W.A. and Westside Connection material. But for his current stock and pay rate, Cube delivered a lot of good, hard swag and got down way more than you might think. Still, at this point, it felt a lot like role-playing as entertainment. But, really, who expected differently?
The Front Bottoms (June 7, Will’s Pub) are a Jersey band that’s a little more emotionally earnest than their name suggests. (YouTube “Front Bottom” by Orlando nerdcore rapper Cracker Jackson if you really want a pure quintessence of the term’s juvenile roots.) Upon entering the music room, I was swamp-slapped with a sellout crowd and an air conditioner that had basically given up. It was the type of sauna situation that would typically be game over. But with the fellowship and spirit that the Front Bottoms’ music kindles, it was actually kind of perfect. Unflappably effervescent and disarmingly infectious, this is the sort of warm vibe that stokes and thrives on collective closeness. The heat only made the manifestation that much more complete. Now that’s some impressive lemonade.
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