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Our music columnist gets immersed at the Acre for John Vanderslice

This Little Underground

Photo: Rob Bartlett, License: N/A, Created: 2013:11:12 10:51:53

Rob Bartlett

This setting allowed Vanderslice, with ample local help, to do some unusually engaging things. After the main stage set, the band moved down to the meadow among the crowd for an unplugged campfire-style song in what would've been total darkness if not for all the surrounding cell phone lights. Then Vanderslice directed everyone to the front of the property for the grand finale. Guided by the torches of the circus acrobats from local troupe Fun Dipped Productions – oh, did I mention there were circus acrobats? – the now fully pied-pipered audience migrated en masse, filed into and overspilled an open Florida cracker-style house where local weird-pop band Moon Jelly was set up to back Vanderslice for the most rocking full-band song of the night. Afterwards, there was a dance party in the cozy barn with DJs Nigel and Cub. Talk about your money's worth.

The result of all this event conceptualization was great turnout and real buzz, more than I've seen at any of Vanderslice's many previous Orlando shows. And the sense of connection and immersion was so deep that Vanderslice himself was swimming in it.

Most of the time, accounts in this column have learning points for either musicians or audience. This time, however, it's to show presenters. Performers make events special with their artistry. But on the logistical side of things, it's often more business than art. Just ask John Vanderslice. I did, and this is what he said: 

"The typical show takes place in a bar. Bars are the least life-affirming place on earth. I love alcohol but, god, shows in bars are just plain stupid. Of course there are thoughtful bars, great small rock clubs, etc. But the average bar/show experience is offensive. After touring in Japan, Europe and Australia, I began to feel like bands were being scammed here. Again, not all clubs are a life-denying zone of unhappiness, but enough are."

So, boom, there you have it. But all this led to his effusive praise of this event. So for matching the creativity of the artists in crafting probably this year's best show experience, Plotkin gets maximum credit.

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