with Flourescent Pea Pod

Barbarella, Orlando • 2.7.98

The one thing that sets Barbarella apart from other venues is the layout. It’s a multi-level bar equipped with multiple sound systems and a patio area where the bands perform. On this particular evening, amongst a healthy crowd, I slugged back expensive but nonetheless tasty brews. They’re a full liquor bar, but I ordered beer so that I wouldn’t have to kiss the bartender’s ass. Inside, the atmosphere is warming up. Early on the DJ mixes old wave and industrial from the Reagan era. Later the dancefloor gets more serious while Pet Shop Boys remixes compete for rotation with cheesy handbag anthems. It makes me miss the fun of old days before the mayor got pressured by Mickey. Instead we are fed a diet of prime time commercial-grade schlock. Like I always say, “you can’t like everything.”

Outside the mixed crowd mingles as Prophecy wrangle their gear up onstage. Consisting of programmer Marizio Arroyave, percussionist K Wyland and vocalist Shannon Smith, Prophecy are one of the few local electronic acts currently playing gigs. Forget what you think about live bands. It doesn’t apply here. There’s no image to live up to. What’s important is the quality of the music as it was meant to be heard. Loud.

Arroyave composes the songs. He either samples the noises or generates the sounds with his own equipment, often times both. Wyland supplemented the rhythm with his human beats, while Arroyave got busy with sequences — his duty is to muti-track an accompaniment. Computer generated rhythm and melody lines intertwined as Smith laid down a vocal over the top. It’s hard to believe that she’s only been with them for only a couple of weeks; hearing her it sounds so warm and natural. Whoever said that techno is music for MDMA-drenched ate-ups hasn’t been exposed to such heartfelt sounds. After just four songs, the crowd appeared awestruck.

It’s a soundtrack suitable for techno’s collective conscious or uninitiated traditionalists. The bottom line is that it is aesthetically pleasing. What’s more amazing than risky is that Arroyave insists on performing live in real time, rather than pre-recording and dropping samples over the digital audiotape as most electronic acts do. He’d rather make a mistake and let the audience know that this is on the fly, as opposed to pantomiming his way through the set. Audience reaction is what any performer thrives on, and in the realm of tech, it’s what sets a splendid performance apart from the herd.

This evening was a moment in the sun for Prophecy. With Smith’s strong vocal presence, the band comes off smelling like roses. Even K Wyland, who was sick as a dog, didn’t skip a beat. Many heads were noddin’, having succumbed to the entrancing beats worked by Arroyave and Co. Especially captivating was the closing number, entitled “Heaven,” where vocalist Smith had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. It’s obvious that she’s done this before. I strongly suggest picking up her single entitled “Symphony of Angels,” by Gamma and the Groove; a side project of KJ’s from K5. To their credit, Prophecy proves that underground is where it’s at. In this age of Orlando’s underground crisis, Prophecy are on the verge of a crucial stage of development, both to Orlando’s history and their own. While their humble origin has primed them to graciously accept the reins, I can only expect to see this outfit further develop into a devout group of movers and scene shakers. Godspeed.

The Flourescent Pea Pod are an animated trio of thirty-somethings. Their set whisked me back to the ’80s as they went through the motions acting out their set in a “panned” or rehearsed manner. Not aware of the plot, it’s no wonder that I couldn’t believe my ears as I watched the band intently. After their set, I complimented their drummer, Bill, on his band’s expert musicianship. It wasn’t until I shook his hand and walked off with CD in hand that I noticed the DAT machine with their gear. I felt like a complete idiot. Not a nice joke at all.

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