My Favorite Gainesville Bands

Infamous: Snare and a Chair with flaming piano in street

Infamous: Snare and a Chair with flaming piano in street

In no particular order, my favorite musicians in Gainesville:

–Snare and a Chair

I said in no particular order, but that was a lie. These guys are first for a reason. Too bad they don’t exist anymore. I like to remember the band as just two guys: Mark on thunderous alien organ and Eric on wacky drumset (Eric later switched to guitar, bass and percussion when they added a third member, Greg, who played drumset).

The passion and uniqueness of Mark’s voice helped cement my love for the band. It was chilling, it was primal, it was beautiful. The keys were amazing as well. They sounded like an organ tripping on acid and scaling Dante’s seven terraces of Purgatory. Add some folk acoustic guitar and harmonica into the mix for good measure. The drumming was simple and complimented the music perfectly.

They are not just one of my favorite local bands, they are one of my favorite bands, period. I cannot safely place them in a genre and wouldn’t want to. They are Snare and a Chair and that is enough for me.

–Cara Del Gato

Another band that no longer exists. I’ve always associated them with Snare and a Chair since I discovered them on the band’s top friends. Cara Del Gato also played at Snare and a Chair’s last show. I am happy to announce that the band has been resurrected in a stripped down version, known as Waylon Thorton and the Heavy Hands.

My band is playing with them this Sunday at 1982 and I am more than excited. Their music is primal like Snare and a Chair, but set deep in rock and blues. The music is full of catchy riffs and a plethora of wailing. It is like garage rock at it’s most basic and beautiful.

–The Most

Yes, another band that broke up. After them I will list some bands that don’t age myself. The Most were the one band I expected to make it big. Charlie had the most powerful set of lungs ever witnessed in Gainesville since Tom Gabel. He hit the most striking notes with his baritone voice. He oozed charisma and as a result, their live shows were amazing. He commanded the audience. The Most even had these weird groupies that looked  like mole people. I believe this is who Charlie refers to in a later quote.

The band was genius at blending soul and arena rock into a contagious, goofy-grin mixture. Chris’ guitar playing was superb and fueled the band’s stadium worthy songs. Most importantly, they always had a sense of humor (insert image of Charlie running around campus dressed as a caveman for their CD release show).

Here is a blurb from Charlie concerning the band’s breakup:

“I thought  we could go all the way, and in a way, we did. If ‘all the way’ means playing with Just A Scientist at the Rion Ballroom at a show no one  knows about, while random people jump onstage and make us feel awkward. In that case we made it big time.”

–Dirty Fist

I have seen them a few times and they grow on me with each performance. The band consists of Chelsea C. on banjo/trumpet and Chelsea K. on accordion. The first time I saw them was about a year ago at Tim and Terry’s when I played with them as a part of The Impossible Shoelace. Politically active, witty, unique: they are always entertaining. To confine them to a genre would probably put them in gypsy folk punk, if such a genre exists.

I tend to turn music that I enjoy into an infatuation. Going with this trend, it seems I am falling in love with anything Chelsea C. does these days. Her voice is so unique and so moving. I love The Cigarette Song that she does as part of her solo project.

Whether it’s her solo stuff or a new riot grrl inspired project she has called the LefT its, I eat it all up. I even messaged her over MySpace telling her how much I liked her music, especially what I had seen of  The LefT its. I probably should have just told her all this after a show. I never got a reply and am now paranoid that it was a creepy message to send. Hopefully she was flattered. Otherwise, it will be really awkward when I play a show with her in the next week or so.


I may have the good fortune of playing drums with him. In response to my request, he said something along the lines of, “It couldn’t hurt to try.” Kiiks is also known as Francisco, of Devin and Fran’s Tabletop Soccer team fame.

It is a solo side-project where he plays nylon string guitar and sings thoughtful, folky songs. It is like a cross between Bob Dylan and the botched up folk music that Gainesville tends to produce. His voice is matter-of-fact and the guitar picking impeccable. One of my favorite lines of his comes from the song  Nothing To Be Done: “So, why do I think of you when I think of leaving?” So simple, yet so effective.

–For He Who Hung The Moon

This is yet another solo acoustic project. The man behind the ambiguous name is Matt. His voice is a cross between a goat and Patti Smith if Smith lived in 18th century America. Although this does not sound flattering, it is. Trust me, it is. His songs take you back to when folk first rooted itself in the Appalachians. The words sound like they were snatched from the dead clutches of fallen Civil War soldiers.

However, his covers of a diverse range of bands including Jay-Z, Madeline, Randy Newman and Against Me! adds a dynamic that counteracts this old time feel. His newest project is an over-arching theme to tell the story of a fictional character named Levi V. Mathias. It is ambitious and I am excited to see how it works out.

–Dante Campanero

Dante Campanero is in the same vein as optimistic folk punk masters Ghost Mice and Matty Pop Chart. Always through the cheery nature of the music lies pain. It is like the care-free, sometimes naive, five-year-old who is confronted with the notion of death (after lets say, a grandma or hamster dies), but is then consoled with an ice cream cone. Dante’s deep voice is not good in the traditional sense, but works perfectly within the context of the songs. It is as if Shaq had talent outside the b-ball court and could actually rap. I hope that allusion makes sense to someone besides me.

The truth is, I really like Dante’s voice. I cannot picture anybody else singing the lyrics. Cigarettes, bicycling, beer and friends make up 90-percent of the material. It is Gainesville to its core (at least the amusing sometime aggravating portion of Gainesville that rides fixies and wears baseball caps with the bils flipped up). Who better to represent than someone who has lived here his entire life? As Dante sings, “To hell with this I’m never leaving/ I love this town through and through.”

–Bang Bang Boom

They make you shake it. They are fun, fantastic and a whole slew of other appropriate and inappropriate F words. The band finds a great singer in Darren who channels a higher pitched Jimi Henrix crossed with Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys.

The fairly recent addition of his brother Lem, tambourine player extraordinaire, truly completes the band. Lem adds incredible backing vocals and an energy that is unparalleled in Gaineville music.

Luke  is one of the most precise and talented drummers in Gainesville rock. His approach is meticulous and grand and the sound hits the audience like a marching band drumline.

Ryan is an equally important asset to the band, a guitarist who obviously fostered his abilities on classic rock standards. On stage he hides in the back, but his sound is quite the opposite of his persona.

Last to mention is Travis. He is one of at least three bassists that have swept through Bang Bang Boom, but I think he is the best fit so far. His stage persona fits in the stereotype of a funk bassist perfectly: the stance, the straightened posture and the involuntary tics. The bass grooves definetely helpto drive the playful and funky music. He has a charm and style of playing that fits into the groove of the band like a puzzle piece.

Overall, they are a great live band and have some great music that is perfect for blaring in a car or party.

Those are off the top of my head. Maybe I will do a  runner up list someday. I think Oh Sanders and Oh No and the Tiger Pit are worthy bands. I am just too tired to continue.


~ by shawp on February 2, 2009.

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