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Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Experimental Variety Show

Immediately, as in the next day, after Little Italy Days and the Weird Paul/Manny Reunion this happened.  This was a show that my friend North booked to benefit some sort of charity.  She asked a bunch of different noise/experimental people to play, including me.  There was some sort of theme about space and time travel, and I guess bands were supposed to play under different names with costumes on.  I didn't play because it was 21+, but a bunch of other bands did while a montage of old sci-fi movie clips looped throughout.

First up was Layne James and the Gang Bang which is a weird parody country band.  I guess that they are sort of a gay version of western machismo.  It was interesting, but sometimes they became sort of incoherent with whoops and hollers.  The accents were kind of cheesy and the sex jokes got old after a while, but it was pretty cool.  They had an "ass smacking" contest and played some songs with only two acoustic guitars and vocals.  It could have been a little better put together and I'd like to see them in the future and see if they improve.

Next up was this crazy psycho called Thunder Genie (usually known as Brian DiSanto).  His set was great with all of the normal antics and enthusiasm thrown together with awkwardness and super short songs.  The first problem of the night arises here, however.  It seems that Belvedere's sound guy had issues doing his job, possibly because of complaints or maybe a lack of knowledge.  He kept turning Brian down and then turning him up again when he was asked to.  It was very strange and happened halfway through some of the Thunder Genie's minute long pop blasts.  When Brian tried to correct the problem by standing in front of the speakers so that he and the audience could better hear the sound, the sound guy told him that he couldn't stand there.  Lame stuff.

The third band to play was sort of Hunted Creatures.  As always they were great, though Darren was replaced by another person who I think was named Jeremy and they ended up being called Hot Wife instead of the usual name.  Their set ended up being very dark and synth heavy with sounds of moving gears and bangs and thumps.  It fit well with the dark, mysterious room, but it was maybe over too quick and was a little too subdued.

After Hot Wife we are confronted by a goggled, jumpsuit clad figure similar to the part in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory involving shrinking machines except instead of chocolate we have synthesizers (chocolate synthesizer?).  I had just met Attention Deficit Evil earlier in the night.  Just as in person, on stage he was a nervous sort of geeky guy.  He played some sort of samples using his keyboard as a remote control or something.  His set consisted of original electro-pop stuff, like an awesome song about a friend lying about being a champion break dancer, with a medley of covers at the end including that song about the blue alien in the blue world or whatever.  Attention Deficit Evil didn't play the keyboard itself too often which was weird, but his set fit very well, at least on the surface, with the themes of time travel and space flight.

After our foray into dance/synth/pop a mysterious girl sat on the stage and read jokes in a hilarious deadpan style.  I can't remember any of the jokes at this point, and I didn't actually record this set, but it was very, very dry and very, very funny.  She wore a wig and makeup and a sparkling dress, looking very much like a space alien.  I think that her name is Gunner and that she is possibly connected with Cyberpunk Apocalypse.

Next up was Wake Project, a noisy collage of samples and weird sound effects.  I had thought that Wake Project was just Jay Dowl, also of Mustache Required and Middle Children, but here he was accompanied by an unknown figure.  They played a bunch of Ghostbusters samples.  It was sort of a guerilla performance due to the discrete nature of the set; they basically just took to the stage with no announcement or any dialogue.  At some point I think Jay said something into the microphone, but it was hard to understand.  It may have been a "fuck you" kind of phrase and possibly referenced my Little Italy Days incident.

For number seven we have Ken Painter, with beatnik dress and a silver face, summoning the spirit of Sun-Ra from Saturn.  He mostly told stories about Sun-Ra's life; no one seemed to understand this at all even though I think everybody really did.  Unlike Ken thought, I'm pretty sure most people there knew who Sun-Ra was, but he ended up trash talking the audience due to their ignorance.  Perhaps it was on purpose?  Maybe not?  I have no idea, but his voice was soothing and ethereal in the hazy fog of the darkened room.

This x'ed sheet produced the best set of the night.  Behind the big painted x of anonymity, the band Manson Girls, consisting of Gena Salorino on guitar/feedback and Kyle Vannoy on drum.  It was as if Sumner Crane and China Burg had entered the room instead of Sun-Ra; wave after wave of pounding tribal drumming and screeching guitar noise.  They only had two members and a tiny amplifier and no visuals, but clearly this was one of the greatest bands that I saw play that night and also the most unknown.

As the night drags on we have Dream Weapon,, who I had also never seen before, playing a very cerebral noise (or noize apparently) set involving laptops, metal tubes, and acoustic guitars.  He had a quiet, but fierce precision to his work; work is what it appeared to be.  He seemed to have a very clear goal and a method to get there correctly.  There appeared to be very little improvisation or randomness to his methods.  I liked his set a lot, but something about it was kind of off-putting and perhaps formulaic(?).

Things were getting closer to the end of the night here folks.  North read a transmission from the the Rogue Messengers, which I guess is some kind of satyrical yippie group that she is a member of.  By group we are talking about maybe 10 people total.  Her message here seemed to touch on themes about universal consciousness and an all engrossing life force.  It was kind of new agey, but it also seemed very beautiful and peaceful.  Things were winding down.

After a short discussion about who would be last, and an exasperated and tired RJ Myato, a new Roup band set up.  This was the fabled Pet Rennaissance, now called Poor Kitty, that I had heard of for months.  Consisting of Seth LeDonne on electronics/noise and Lucy Goubert on vocals/poetry, Poor Kitty played an amazing set kind of like Contre Le Sexisme, but much more freeform.  While Seth pounded on homemade noise boxes and played tapes Lucy chanted the "hello" non-musically.  Poor Kitty was and still is a great band and may have a ··— album coming out next year.

 Finally the end.  Darrell Workman had been MCing the whole night and now the disenfranchised Steal City owner was about to play.  His set was not really at all what I was expecting.  Darrell gave a pseudo-ironic meditation vocal and breathed deeply and creepily.  At times it would become like white noise, but for the remainder his set was calm and eerie, like talking to a convicted serial killer locked away in an apparently calm mental institution.  The lame sound guy wouldn't let him really cut loose when he wanted to, but Darrell had everything set to the limit to compensate.  Over all I think it worked and the night ended with his attempted accessible noise.

You can check out some of the more obscure sets here without the expertise of Belvedere's sound expert.

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