Central Florida is a weird place. I’m sure I’ve complained about that enough elsewhere, but despite the weirdness, there’s some moments that everything just feels right. The local community is unmatched in the way it embraces its children, so a show that concluded with two of Florida’s most acclaimed new acts took a celebratory feel that you don’t get from many a live show.
Though the crowd had yet to fill out The Social’s unique pit in front of the stage, the much buzzed XXYYXX took to the stage for a taut set of his spacey instrumentals. Marcel Everett, the 16 year old behind the lettered stage name, has drawn frequent comparisons to James Blake, but as he drops tracks like his–admittedly abstract–“Hard In Da Paint” remix it becomes clear that Everett’s work is a lot more emphatic. Knowingly or not, his recorded work maintains similarities to the UK Bass scene that spawned Blake’s early work, though being able to take it in through The Social’s immaculate soundsystem lends his tunes a cracked hip-hop feel not unlike Flying Lotus’s early tracks. These are certainly hazy, off-kilter instrumentals, but Everett is cautious enough to avoid mining the distinctly chillwave sounds of years past. His production style seems wholly unique, despite those aforementioned touchstones, and with the visuals that accompanied his set, his midi-controller mashing provided a pretty astounding opening set for those few who chose to trek out early.
Gainesville’s Hundred Waters have yet to catch on large scale, but their self-titled debut featured a level of musicianship that’s not often on display in indie rock contexts. Only recent efforts by Dirty Projectors mix earthy soundscapes and airy vocal harmonies with the same dexterity displayed on their album. The only question going into their show seemed to be whether, as a young band, they could replicate those songs with any sort of consistency. When “Sonnet”, the opening track from that aforementioned debut hit in the middle of their set, it became clear that the answer was a resounding yes. Though the live vocals of Nicole Miglis and Sam Moss are largely presented without adornment, on tracks like “Theia” the syrupy harmonies are present enough, but with some of the layers peeled back. That’s the defining characteristic of their live incarnation, I suppose. Though the electronic flourishes are mostly intact thanks to some deft midi controller work from Trayer Tryon and Paul Giese, some vocal layers are ignored in favor of a more raw approach. You can’t blame them for abiding by the limits of what’s humanly possible, and the new incarnations of these tracks pack a punch all their own. As Miglis leads the group through flute solos deserving of Jethro Tull tracks and Moss sprinkles several of the singles with her auxiliary percussion, much more significant bands come to mind than those that generally grace the stage at venues as small as the Social.
It’s eminently clear that Hundred Waters is a band practiced far beyond their years and the near-hometown crowd seemed incredibly grateful that the band is still showing Florida love, despite the fact that they already tower much higher than even the biggest titans of Florida’s scene. There’s no doubt that the band might garner even greater success if they packed it up and moved to one of the country’s indie music meccas, but for the time being it seems like their brand of electronic colored folk music is firmly planted in the Sunshine State, and Florida’s inhabitants couldn’t be more grateful.