A ‘Field Trip’ Your Momma Never Would Have Signed Off For

It was a wild weekend down in the swampy atmosphere of Orlando, Florida. Field Trip South brought two nights filled with the pungent aroma of alcohol vapors, cigarette breath, and dance sweat as patrons to Will’s Pub were treated to an entourage of rock and roll sounds, from psycho-billy to psychedelia. From the entrance to the stage, the venue was filled with decorative set pieces (such as the iconic creature from the black lagoon rocker featured on the flyer), endless memorabilia, and cool cats both beautiful and strange, unconventional and nostalgic, and just plain weird in the best way.

Friday night kicked off the festival off with a ferocious foray into rockabilly madness from local legends, The Wildtones. With their passionately crafted sound, the beat was pumping and the crowd was thumping along. The cork had been popped and the rock and roll champagne was free-flowing into ears and out through tapping shoes and swingin’ hips. The set was a warmly received contrast to a slight detour going on behind the scenes, as it was revealed that The Othermen were forced to pull out of Friday’s set due to some van trouble (more on that further on).

With the night set into gear the stage was tastefully disgraced by the lovingly filthy, Cramps-esque sounds of Sash the Bash. The gritty duo drew a crowd with guitars set into lower octaves for a sound so dirty you could almost taste it, and songs that drew out the pangs of youthful alienation. Combined with a wardrobe that would inspire envy into any fashionista fancying her/himself a charming scoundrel, these ladies were a sight to behold!

Following close behind were the self-described, Beach Boys-esque psychedelia of Philly’s The Groovy Movies. Featuring songs that touched on the themes of “Tripping balls,” and “flat-earth theories,” these tripped out wonder-dudes floated the crowd’s consciousness receptors downstream to 60’s pop aesthetics that offered a colorful contrast to the dirty-boy rock and roll that ruled the two nights. Their tune, “Tambourine” is still digging an earworm-sized cavern into the depths of my brain.

As for highlights, two bands really stood out amongst the rest. When it comes to raw, electric energy, The Whoolly Bushmen simply cannot be beat. Lead singer and keyboard wizard, Simon Palombi, harnesses a sense of wild, rock and roll abandon that recalls the off-the-walls hijinks of Dexter Rombweber himself. Running in place as he, quite literally, bangs out melodies, jumping on the keyboard, and banging his head on the keys, his antics alone are as crowd-pleasing as they are authentically executed. Of course these show-stopping shenanigans could not be properly doled out without a powerhouse rhythm section that not only grounded the music, but also added to the chaos in just the right doses.

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As for another band of supreme, noteworthy mention were NYC’s Baby Shakes. Making their Florida debut, their set was not one to be missed. Nowhere in the festival was the crowd dancing as wildly as they were during onslaught of enthusiasm and sound. The energy was as infectious as the songs were catchy. Their tunes brought the most modern, fun-loving punk sounds of the festival. If the feeling of The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach,” could be captured in a band, Baby Shakes would be the one.

The rest of the festival went off without a hitch. The Othermen were able to get their van fixed up and played a warmly-received set on Saturday night. Other notable performances were brought by Untamed Youth, The Belltowers, and Phantom Surfers, all bringing the charms of yesterdays rock and roll to a crowd ranging from the baby-boomer nostalgia seeker to the curious millennial audiophile.

Not bad for two nights of solid rock and roll. Totally worth the stiff neck and throbbing headache aftermath.

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Nik

Orlando-based singer/guitarist, writer, and teacher. Eternal lover of all things music and noise. I play and sing in The Grizzly Atoms, and write for the blog here from time to time.

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