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Nico Vega

with Crash Kings and A Brilliant Lie

The Social, Orlando, FL • July 22, 2013

Downtown Orlando's ultra-groovy nightspot, The Social, certainly cleans up well. Since last visiting the iconic venue a year ago, the roach-infested, typically trash-filled planter located just outside the entrance has disappeared. Wallpaper-like posters promoting upcoming shows have been stripped from the front window -- replaced by two sleek plasma screens. And the layers of band stickers and flyers have all vanished from the inside walls and bathroom stalls. What hasn't changed, however, is the club's continued commitment to delivering the best in live (far-from-mainstream) concert events. And recently, they hosted a doozie.

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Jesse Tanner Long • Click to enlarge
A Brilliant Lie

Up-and-coming chart-busters, A Brilliant Lie, took the stage at 8:25pm and in short order they'd reeled in all 150 fans with their hooky earworms. Vocalist/guitarist, Tara Lightfoot, proved to be an engaging frontchick -- connecting personally with the crowd throughout the band's high-energy, thirty-minute set. Their debut record Regarding Harry Lime has sold well throughout the Southeast for the last year or so, and they recently wrapped production on their soon-to-be-released sophomore effort Moments Waking Vessels with producer James Paul Wisner (Paramore/Underoath). Stand by for impending global domination.

Despite the popularity of each act, the concert was an all 'round communal, grassroots effort, with members of even the two co-headliners offloading gear in between sets. And after a brief switch-over, LA's Crash Kings revved up at 9:10 -- much to the delight of the bevy of scantily-clad nubile babes who'd seemingly appeared from out of nowhere at the last minute and planted themselves immediately in front of the stage. Ah, the true blue spirit of rock and roll is alive and well!

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Jesse Tanner Long • Click to enlarge
Crash Kings

Standing amid an array of Rick Wakeman-like keyboards, frontman/pianist Antonio Beliveau wasted no time in stripping out of his blue velvet blazer as he led his mighty power trio from the show-opening "6 Foot Tall" into their 2010 hit "Mountain Man."

Best described (by me) as Jellyfish-meets-Black Sabbath, the crunchy piano-driven combo punished the crowd of (now) more than 200 with a non-stop onslaught of "must play" gems from their 2009 self-titled debut as well as their newly released second record, Dark of the Daylight.

Having recently cut major label ties, Crash Kings now approach the game differently as they tour in support of DOTD. "This is the first time we're totally independent," Beliveau confessed, leading into "Non-Believer." "We're hauling our own shit and setting up our own shit. That's how you do it -- and it feels good."

Aside from the musical train wreck leading into "You Got Me," Crash Kings delivered a powerful, rock-solid, sixty-minute set that culminated with their current hit, "Hot Fire." And the crowd goes wild!

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Jesse Tanner Long • Click to enlarge
Nico Vega

The second switch-over was a bit more lengthy, and by the time Nico Vega hit the stage at 10:45, the crowd had thinned out considerably. However, the adoring flock of 100 + remained fully amped as lead singer Aja Volkman upped the dramatic tension with her layered vocal effect intro -- a compelling grand entrance to be sure.

Wearing a long flowing, cream-colored shawl-type dealio with a sparkly black and silver, floor-length gown, Volkman bounced across the stage and leaped from atop the kick drum like an exotic pixie. "We only expected three people!" she announced gleefully.

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Jesse Tanner Long • Click to enlarge
Nico Vega

The eclectic and charming LA-based quartet that also features founding guitarist Rich Koehler, longtime drummer Dan Epand and newly recruited touring bassist Jamila Weaver served up a smorgasbord of selections from the group's various past EPs as well as from their 2013 record, Fury Oh Fury.

"This one's about my childhood," Volkman confessed, leading the charge into the spirited, "Back of My Hand." Other musical highlights included such staples as "Gravity" and "Fury Oh Fury."

Simply put, this one was a doozie, indeed. And at just $20 it truly offered O-Town fans plenty of bang for the buck.

Nico Vega: Crash Kings: A Brilliant Lie: