The Reality and Side Hustle: Two More Most-Favorite Sets
Does this kind of thing happen to you? You consistently go to see various bands, and almost always they turn in best-ever performances (to your ears, anyway). I hope you are having the same experience. It bespeaks the hard work all of the musicians are putting in.
It happened again on Saturday, August 13, at Dunedin Brewery when Side Hustle brought their A game to match up with The Reality from Tampa, who did the same. It was magical on a night when there were at least a dozen great musical options available around the Tampa Bay area; you couldn’t lose no matter where you went.
But we were at Dunedin, and we hit the motherlode!
Side Hustle are still cresting the wave of their excellent sophomore album Liberation, released last year. They have toured out of Florida and paired up with great bands such as Tand and Andrew Scotchie and the River Rats. Currently, the band is in transition concerning a bass player. For this show, they welcomed another Jacksonvillian who is currently working in four — count k’em — four bands! Steve Honig plays bass in S.P.O.R.E. and Sauce Pocket and guitar in Greenhouse Lounge and Cowford. It was seamless!
This show was a whole quantum level up, to my ears. The boys CRUSHED, start to finish. They began with a rocker, “The Temptress Pt. 2,” from Liberation, with guitarist Anton Laplume on vocals. Billy Begley’s synths opened “Fed Up,” pure funk rock. Drummer Aaron Plotz was featured during “Destitute,” another rocker. All the while, Honig was powering the low end.
They offered up a fine cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City.” In order for this to success, the band must deliver that perfect synth sound. Begley stuck the landing, and he also added backing vocals. The band then dove into a long jam with “Gov Did Nothing > Jam > Freedom 35 > Another Brick in the Wall.” “Freedom 35” was piano-driven before Laplume threw down his best solo of the set (so far!). There was a long jam intro into “Another Brick in the Wall,” highlighted by an even better Laplume solo and Plotz on the rims.
“Street Walker” had a very Latin feel to it, and Honig had a fine solo during the set closing “Daydreamin’,” a tune from Begley’s days with Lucky Costello. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, by all means add them to your calendar. They were superb!
And Amelia did a great job with the band’s merch table!
[SIDE HUSTLE: The Temptress Pt. 2, Fed Up, Destitute, Living for the City, Gov Did Nothing > Jam > Freedom 35 > Another Brick in the Wall, Street Walker, Daydreamin’]
There was a quick turnaround as Side Hustle and The Reality changed places on stage, and we were ready for round two. The Reality saw fit to match the energy and enthusiasm of the Jacksonville quartet with a monster set of their own, introduced by Josh Kim on keyboards on the familiar movie company song “20th Century Fox,” then quickly sliding into “Sweetness,” with guitarist Dan Jones on vocals and backing vocals from drummer BA Jones. Dan also grabbed his trombone kick the jam up and crushed his guitar solo.
Still amidst the same jam, they threw in a quick “Pineapple Salsa” tease, then rolled into Smashmouth’s “Walking On the Sun” (what a fun song to cover!). Finally, a break! I say that laughingly, but some us remember how, at Monster Mash on Halloween 2020, The Reality reinvented themselves (in addition to their funk and rock bona fides) as a jam band and a trance-dance band.
To underscore the jam band part, they vaulted into a long-ass medley of tunes, beginning with a long take on “Where’s Lucy.” Eventually, that tumbled into “Really Don’t Care,” then a great “C Jam > Fat Fanny Pack > Lil’ Diddy.” Still on a roll, they teased “Piña Salsa” ago before slamming into fan favorite “Sweet Tooth.” Kim took a long synth solo, followed by Dan on guitar before returning to the head of the tune and bassist Caleb Bone’s operatic backing vocals (!!). STILL not done! A guitar figure out of “Sweet Tooth” led into “Wanna See You Dance,” heavy on synths and trance-dance. Bone was killing on bass the entire set, as was his rhythm partner BA on drums.
PHEW! They came up for air — briefly — before Kim dove into “Axel F.,” the well-known synth tune from Beverly Hills Cops, and that led to The Reality’s number one hit tune, “All My Time,” simultaneously a wonderful love ballad and a kick-ass jam.
There were many great musical options that evening. I’m glad we caught this great pairing.
[THE REALITY: 20th Century Fox > Sweetness > Pineapple Salsa > Walking On the Sun, Where’s Lucy > Really Don’t Care > C Jam > Fat Fanny Pack > Lil’ Diddy > Piña Salsa > Sweet Tooth > Wanna See You Dance, Axel F. > All My Time]