Population @ The Atlantic, Gainesville FL Oct 4th 2015

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Support From Exit Dust, Chill Wizard & Heat Rash.

In most towns, a Sunday night show would be a gamble. Gainesville FL, however, is a distinct sort of never never land where, while there aren’t a lot of venues, you are pretty much guaranteed to see at least one reasonable performer on most nights. Integral to this small matrix of venues worth hopping lies The Atlantic nightspot, whose chipped linoleum floors have seen more than their share of heavy black boots moving in time to music through cheap spilled beer. Furthering Gainesville’s strange ability to house riotous and fairly packed shows on a Sunday, is the fact most of the downtown natives of a certain ilk don’t have real jobs. Since I am also one of these idiots without a normal monday schedule, it was without hesitation that I headed out that evening after a friend convinced me to attend with a brief clip of a Population song.

The night was started on high energy with a newer local band, Heat Rash. I have had the pleasure of seeing this group a few times over the summer and am never disappointed with their performance. With a sort of sloppy, gaudy approach to a punk/ goth (mostly due to the vocal style of their singer), their sound is always matched with a a bit of a peacocking performance style which is always entertaining. Sunday was no exception, Heat Rash filled the stage like they didn’t give a fuck, and it was good.

Chill Wizard was the next up, and they were undoubtedly the night’s biggest mystery for me. First I could find nothing about them on the internet (quite a magnificent feat, considering the internet’s thorough choke hold on information these days), and I sort of remember seeing them play a few years back, so it is my belief (also based on somewhat drunken information which I gleaned from fellow listeners in the crowd near me) that they are some sort of GVN local group who exist in occasional retirement. Despite the fact that they (maybe) don’t play that often- Chill Wizard was pretty solid. A nice spread of Americana-metal-rock with vampiric undertones. They had great growls, near duets, and plenty of thrash aethstetic worked into their performance. More of the sort of heavy music you might play to get your truck unstuck from the mud or to lift something heavy as opposed to a seance soundtrack.

Headlining Chicago goth group, Population took the stage with a well-played 80’s throwback vengeance. Let me first say that their vocalist, Keelan McMorrow, is one hell of a performer with one hell of a voice (very much in the realm of The Smiths or New Order). So often now a lot of independant bands tend to shy away from a showboating approach to stage presence, that is absolutely not so in the case of Population. McMorrow moved and howled with confidence, his performance absolutely carrying and leading the instrumental direction. Their style, though a little bit dated in sound due to their tight adherence to an 80’s goth sound, did absolutely come off as a logical progression of the genre (and I would absolutely encourage any fan of early goth or the more dancey areas of post-punk to check them out immediately). Their performance style alone will probably convince me to check them out again if they play nearby in the future.

To close out the evening was another local group, Exit Dust, who I had yet to see, but had heard many many good things about. Their sound is pretty solid state punk, skilled and cohesive instrumentally, with a vocalist whose tones sometimes slip into a near-Grace Slick territory. As a three piece they seemed to be very compact with the presentation of their songs, every transition was complete without lingering or creating a sense of removal in the audience. People were really fucking locked into the performance, only minimally milling about by the bar for the whole set. And they went hard, loud, and fast with a performance approach that was somehow both dead eyed and a bit jaded while still coming off as vicious as hell. I am certainly looking forward to seeing them around town in the near future.

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