Best of Orlando 2009 – Arts and Entertainment


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Best makeover

Orlando Museum of Art logo and website

Is Orlando’s biggest art museum moving toward more contemporary programming, or are they just blowing off the dust? Time will tell, but in the meantime, the museum’s new identity brings it into the 21st century. Designed by local agency Push, with back-end web programming by locals Hydra (now Purple Rock Scissors), the simple but sophisticated logo ‘is a nod to Bauhaus aesthetics,’ says design director Forest Young, in the way it ‘points to the triangle/circle/square `and` primary colors as the building blocks for rational design.’ The logo is included in 2008’s Logo Design, the most recent edition of Taschen’s annual collection of the world’s best logos, pulling Orlando onto the world design stage. Kudos.

Best dirty-sounding lit mag


It’s only a matter of an ‘n’ and a space that keeps this high-minded literary showcase from being fan-fiction erotica dedicated to Emma Thompson. Winter Park’s Chris Heavener has a simple mission: ‘to make reading stories exciting again.’ Rather than a lecture about how you should read, this semiannual collection offers stuff you’ll actually want to, accompanied by some stunning artwork. But a story about Ms. Thompson’s backside couldn’t hurt.

Best heresy

J.E.S.U.S. Thursdays
Icon Nightclub
20 E. Central Blvd.

It’s not that it was wrong when beloved local impresario Pauly Crush announced he was saving Thursday nights again (after a nasty breakup with his scene-defining Saturday/Thursdays) with a new residency at Icon bearing the puzzling acronym J.E.S.U.S. Saves. It’s that we didn’t think of it first. Debuting in February with a cocksure lineup including Kid Sister and Diplo, Crush’s night has lived up to its name and helped raise hipster dance from the dead.

Best night for hatin’

Broken Speech Poetry Slam
9:30 p.m. Thursdays
Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road

Few events encourage the audience to boo as actively this competition. Poets throw around names like Dick Cheney and Lindsay Lohan like it was the Two-Minutes Hate from 1984. Add to that the scorn heaped on judges who hold up low scores and it’s amazing this isn’t an all-out brawl. The whole evening is a testament to powerful emotions for the things we cannot change.

Best new music festival

Orange You Glad Fest

Six participating venues and over 60 acts gave this new off-downtown festival a scale large enough to be a real event, but small enough to be personal. OYG’s greatest accomplishment, however, is how brightly it underscored this area’s indie talent. Its mission to celebrate and advance our indigenous scene makes it a tremendous development. The strong attendance it drew makes it a contender.

Best gallery for artists

Bold Hype
1844 E. Winter Park Road

There’s a different sensibility about world-traveled Eric Althin and his wife, Shannon (both of Zombieduck Productions), who opened Bold Hype Gallery and quickly made inroads with starving locals due to their extremely generous commission policy. Bold Hype is like a neutral ground in the battle of frustration between talent and buyers. No wonder: Althin is from the neutral country of Sweden. The creative couple’s strategy so far has been to move exhibits in and out that make the most of their relationships with local, regional and national artists. When artists are happy, so are their collectors.

Best battle of the bands

Happy Valley versus Watch Me Disappear
Feb. 13, Copper Rocket Pub

Almost without exception, band battles blow. But the head-to-head contest conceived by Sleepy Bird Orphanage label honcho Phil Siegenthaler is how you do it right. Battle? Screw that. Cage match is more like it. Choose two bands, put ’em both onstage at the same time, and have ’em throw songs back and forth like haymakers. Sprinkle it with challenges in guitar, drums and covers, top it off with an all-in jam, and watch the sparks fly.

Best comeback venue

Will’s Pub
1042 N. Mills Ave.

Entire scenes can change in the span of two years. But proof that Will’s Pub is permanently etched in Orlando’s DNA is how immediately version 2.0 rose to prominence as a top live venue and regained its status as a community institution. Rather than being a pale shadow of former glory, it’s already become a new force and a major player that’s changed the landscape of local music and nightlife.

Best response to tough economic times

Free shows at Bar-BQ-Bar
64 N. Orange Ave.

Hipster haven Bar-BQ-Bar may not always give a shit about providing good service, but it does always show concern for your wallet. And if slinging the cheapest hooch in the downtown area weren’t enough already, the bar has started to feature free live shows again. Though somewhat intermittent, these weekday concerts are tastefully curated by the music-minded staff for quality and cred.

Best place for an arts district

Orlando Loch Haven Park
900 E. Princeton St.
407-246-2287 Rec.aspx?Park=213_2

It’s a trick question — the 45-acre Loch Haven Park already exists at the end of the ‘cultural corridor’ created by former Mayor Glenda Hood. It’s home to: Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Fire Museum, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Science Center, Orlando Repertory Theatre and Mennello Museum of American Art. Events planted there among the oak trees include the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, PlayFest, Orlando Folk Festival, Target Family Theatre Festival, Pet Fair and the Council of 101 Festival of Trees. The city website link (above) makes no mention of all this, so maybe they need reminding.

Best performance artist

Brian Feldman

That Brian Feldman can do anything at any time of day or night and call it ‘art’ makes him the worthy subject of an investigation into how 21st-century performance art has been infected by social networks. What does Feldman do for fun? Has he remained pure? Does he accept sponsorships? What’s his fascination with Twitter and lightsabers? At any rate, the brainy art dude needs to be captured, tagged and documented before being released back into the wild.

Best art-event space for people who can’t be bothered to dress up

The Orange Studio
1121 N. Mills Ave.

When proprietor Julio Lima first decided to make a neighborhood statement by turning his quiet design business, Say It Loud, into a giant orange head-turner, area residents balked. But after about a year or so of repurposing, including renting out the ample studio space in the back to local artists, the Orange Studio has become something of a hipster art space for the skinny-jeans set, and also one of the best places in town for quick-plan events that involve smoke machines, skate ramps and occasional liquor sponsorships (lesson learned here: Absinthe is gross). In a town full of stuffy galleries and monthly mingles, Lima keeps the beauty of creativity where it belongs: at the ground level.

Best musical liaison

Tierney Tough

The best are willing to throw down a gauntlet for themselves. This past May, that’s exactly what Pauses vocalist and source of undying support Tierney Tough did when she organized and delivered the Orange You Glad music fest. She also recently took hold of the Will’s Pub reins in terms of scheduling and promoting their concerts, and is omnipresent at the various Facey spaces and Tweety pages shouting out l ocal music.

Best place for a fake punk show taping for a fake reality show

The Peacock Room
1321 N. Mills Ave.

In its short history of being all things to all people — it’s not a gay bar, but it’s not not a gay bar, either — the Peacock Room has remained the perfect watering hole for those miles above the poverty line to mix with those who eat baked beans for dinner: real estate agents, lawyers, DJs and painters can all share a common bond in liquor. But last November, the Peacock transformed its typically well-kept feathers into an unexpectedly fantastic spectacle for ABC’s Wife Swap, wherein precocious children and a crrrrrrrazy mom in a purple wig tried to re-enact the sweat and urine of CBGB’s in front of a coached crowd, all mouthing along to ‘Breaking the Law’ while the sun still shone outside. There is only one word for this sort of planar intersection, and that word is ‘Orlando.’

Best saving grace

Timucua White House
2000 S. Summerlin Ave.

The performance space in Benoit Glazer’s home is exquisite, from the brick walls around the stage to the seating balconies to the lighting on the visual artwork. Fill that with the noise of some of the best jazz, classical and experimental acts active today, and we can thank god the musical director for Cirque du Soleil and his musically prodigious family invite the public to share this gift for free. It’s a simple, classy gesture that keeps Orlando from being the cultural wasteland everyone thinks it is.

Best people-watching

The Rosen Plaza Hotel
9700 International Drive

To be honest, we debated letting you in on Orlando’s best-kept secret. This place is a guilty pleasure, and we’re a bit hesitant about tipping you irony-drenched hipster kids to its awesomeness. But alas, this is our job. Backstage is a little bar holed up inside the Rosen Plaza Hotel, across the street from Pointe Orlando, and it is the very definition of Tourist Hell. We mean that in the best possible way. This place has it all: a cover band enthusiastically playing terrible music; drunken tourists writhing on the dance floor in a disgusting, hilarious pseudo-sexual manner; and best of all, a complete lack of self-awareness. It’s a hell of a way to spend a Friday night; at least, until the locals find out about it. Oh. Shit.

Best Art Gallery

1st: Bold Hype, 1844 E. Winter Park Road, 407-629-2965,
2nd: CityArts Factory, 29 S. Orange Ave., 407-648-7060,
3rd: Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-4231,

Best Arts Advocate

1st: Beth Marshall
2nd: Margot Knight
3rd (tie): Anna McCambridge
3rd (tie): Bold Hype

Best Dance Troupe

1st: Voci Dance,
2nd: VarieTease,
3rd: Orlando Ballet,

Best Festival

1st: Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival,
2nd: Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival,
3rd: Florida Film Festival,

Best Museum

1st: Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N. Mills Ave., 407-896-4231,
2nd: Orlando Science Center, 777 E. Princeton St., 407-514-2000,
3rd: The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, 445 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-5311,

Best Theater Troupe

1st: SAK Comedy Lab, 380 W. Amelia St., 407-648-0001,
2nd: Orlando Shakespeare Theater 812 E. Rollins St., 407-447-1700,
3rd: Mad Cow Theatre, 105 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-297-8788,

Best Thespian

1st: Philip Nolen
2nd: Brian Feldman,
3rd: Beth Marshall

Best Movie Theater

1st: Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-629-0054,
2nd: Regal Winter Park Village 20, 510 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0035
3rd: AMC Loews Universal Cineplex 20, Universal CityWalk, 407-354-3374

Best Karaoke

1st: Big Daddy’s Roadhouse, 3001 Corrine Drive, 407-644-2844
2nd: O’Shucks Pub & Billiards, 7467 International Drive, 407-352-7892,
3rd: Rising Star Karaoke Bar, Universal CityWalk, 407-224-2189

Best Strip Club

1st: Dancers Royale, 5221 E. Colonial Drive, 407-281-0120,
2nd: Rachel’s Adult Entertainment & Steakhouse, 401 E. State Road 436, Casselberry, 407-767-2977,
3rd: Thee Doll House, 5570 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-858-1319

Best Club DJ

1st: DJ Pauly Crush,
2nd: DJ Kittybat,
3rd: DJ Y-NOT,

Best Club Night

1st: Crush, Mondays at Back Booth, 37 W. Pine St., 407-999-2570,
2nd: Grits & Gravy, Tuesdays at Independent Bar, 70 N. Orange Ave., 407-839-0457,
3rd: Torque, Mondays at Crooked Bayou, 50 E. Central Blvd., 407-839-5852,

Best Open Mic

1st: Austin’s Coffee, 929 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-975-3364,
2nd: Broken Speech Poetry Slam, Thursdays at Stardust Video & Coffee, 1842 E. Winter Park Road, 407-623-3393,
3rd: Natura Coffee and Tea, 12078 Collegiate Way, 407-482-5000,

Best Live Music Club

1st: The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave., 407-246-1419,
2nd: Back Booth, 37 W. Pine St., 407-999-2570,
3rd: Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., 407-898-5070,

Best Country Act

1st: Thomas Wynn & the Believers,
2nd: Jim Van Fleet & the Reign,
3rd: Hindu Cowboys,

Best Electronic Act

1st: Yip-Yip,
2nd: DNF Music,
3rd: Attachedhands,

Best Experimental Act

1st: Yip-Yip,
2nd: Brian Feldman,
3rd: The Future on Films in Space,

Best Folk Act

1st: Matt Butcher,
2nd: Tommy Treadway,
3rd: Chris Burns,

Best Hip-Hop Act

1st: Solillaquists of Sound,
2nd (tie): Cracker Jackson,
2nd (tie): Not Them!,
3rd (tie): Rubox,
3rd (tie): MidaZ the Beast,

Best Indie Act

1st: Chris Burns,
2nd: Mumpsy,
3rd: Band Marino,

Best Jazz Act

1st: Sam Rivers,
2nd: Shak Nasti,
3rd: The Absinthe Trio,

Best Latin Act

1st: Latin Express
2nd: Urbe Prima,
3rd: Abdias Garcia,

Best Mainstream Rock Act

1st: Thomas Wynn & the Believers,
2nd: Megaphone,
3rd: Junkie Rush,

Best Metal Act

1st (tie): Empyrean,
1st (tie): Khann,
2nd: Gargamel!,
3rd (tie): Fields of Glass,
3rd (tie): Pain Principle,

Best Pop Act

1st: Mumpsy,
2nd: Megaphone,
3rd: So Help Me Rifle,

Best Punk Act

1st: Idols End,
2nd: Tooth and the Enamels,
3rd: The Attack,

Best Reggae/Ska Act

1st: The Supervillains,
2nd: Mystik NRG,
3rd: The Caribbean Crew,

Best Soul Act

1st: The Legendary JC’s,
2nd (tie): The Gerry Williams Band,
2nd (tie): Peter Baldwin,
3rd (tie): Kaleigh Baker,
3rd (tie): Thomas Wynn & the Believers,
3rd (tie): Solillaquists of Sound,

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