Let’s see … how about bringing two indie rock bands — which, by definition, thrive on loose women, drugs and booze — into town for the annual Tampa Bay holiday that, err, thrives on loose women, drugs and booze (and pirates, for good measure).
Centro-Matic and The Unicorns’ respective record companies might want to start shopping for new tour managers; and some good lawyers while they’re at it.
Then again, what is a party without a band of guitar-wielding cowboys and three Canadians getting wacky with glockenspiel and synthesizers? Centro-Matic and The Unicorns — two of the best examples of the musical map prevalent in the indie landscape today (that isn’t inspired by a New York City thrift store) — roll into town during Gasparilla for a show that’s sure to bring both hipsters and habitual drinkers through the gates of Orpheum.
Bring beads; these boys could be flashers.
Centro-Matic is touring in support of its 11th, and arguably most dynamic, release, Love You Just The Same. This four-piece representing the Lone Star state is fronted by Will Johnson, the prolific singer/ songwriter that sings somewhere between Jeff Tweedy and Layne Staley, plays like Ryan Adams joined The Promise Ring and ultimately sounds like a rock ‘n’ roll tornado marinated to perfection in its myriad of influences.
Johnson has made so much music that he might start citing himself amongst his influences.
“I just want to remain excited about waking up every morning, putting on a pot of coffee and writing songs,” Johnson said. “And there are still so many reasons why I enjoy playing by myself and with the band.”
In all the years of playing, Johnson and his mates have seen trends and scenes come and go. But one trend is popping up all over Centro-Matic’s backyard with the uprising of this Texas indie music scene and is garnering national attention with both fans and critics.
“There’s a lot of amazing and inspiring stuff that comes out of here (Texas),” Johnson said. “So many styles and voices come from Texas, keeping it interesting. There’s not just a specific sound or category as with certain scenes in the past. But we love the scene, and all for different reasons.”
And while some bands nestle themselves in a scene full of a variety of vibrant sounds, others like The Unicorns simply embody every musical influence there is.
The Unicorns, a trio of electric eccentrics from Montreal, plays music that could be the soundtrack to finger-painting pre-schoolers running wild in a Willy Wonka-themed disco.
But “The Beatles in straightjackets” may be closer to par with The Unicorns’ sound.
These Canadian cronies followed their self-released debut with the explosively innovative Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? which propelled them into that double-edged echelon of critical praise. Then again, who needs those darn critics, anyway.
“Critically, the response has been somewhat in-depth, but most of the fans can’t actually voice exactly what it is they like about the record,” guitarist/ singer/ saxophonist/ part-time press man, Alden Ginger said.
“I try not to pay attention to that stuff, but sometimes it’s surprising how inspiring the feedback is. The last show we played, we had a guy come up who was fighting cancer, saying that our music was helping him deal with that. That’s an amazing feeling to provide for someone.”
Although music rags abroad have appreciated this brand of overtly intelligent, playtime pop, it may be too much for America’s breed of music fans raised on Britneys and Bizkits. Or not.
“There’s been more people coming out to our shows in America than ever did anywhere else,” Ginger said. “That shows me that you guys have good taste. Well, it’s pleasing to me anyway.”
Whether Tampanian music fans have an appetite for this amazing indie rock spectacular remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: Tampa’s residents like things that taste good. Especially when it is liquor, the perpetual nucleus of Gasparilla.
And if this show is played just right, the audience can whet their alcoholic pallets along with The Unicorns’ playground-rock before wallowing in Will Johnson’s porch-gazing alt/ country. Now all this show needs is a couple of on-stage pirates.
“We’ve played so many different types of crowds,” Johnson said. “We just got back from Europe where we played to very quiet and attentive crowds, so, (Saturday night) will be interesting to get back to playing loud rock music in front of a nice, rowdy crowd.
Plus, the drive the next day is pretty short so we can afford to delve into the local flavor. We’ll come prepared. We’ll bring beads.”
Centor0-Matic and The Unicorns perform Saturday. The show is at 6 p.m. and tickets are $8 in advance, and $9 at the door.