Hodag, Commode Minstrels, Anti-Ear & Rcomplexx

Great show at G3 last night. Hodag's set was mostly new ideas not used in our previous show. Less-synth heavy, but there were still emulated and actual analog synths involved in a pretty significant way. "you can take the boy outta the extended cab, but you can't take the extended cab outta the boy" & "jacob looks like a guy from a horror film!" are just the sorts of things you should've been thinking. "neanderthal hunks of chopped wood ready for the stove" -- that's right too. We're going to have to play out more often to get used to making things translate in the live situation, but pick up a copy of our new CDR to hear how good things can get in Bayview. Best set I've ever heard from the Commode Minstrels. Perhaps it was the addition of a new fourth member on ukulele. Great range of sounds and approaches. Cheesy keyboard vamps, viola guitar solos, boingy sampler tapping and other assorted goofy noises. Spontaneous set redesigns involving Spanish verbs and abstract art. That violist sure has hot legs. Everything came through very clearly, which was impressive considering the amount of people playing fucked up noise generators through a notoriously muddy PA. Anti-Ear did a modular analog synth set like he's been known to do. Delay pedals and vocals were also involved. Rcomplexx started out with an evil doom bass line growing increasingly harsher. Blasts of noise and tape rewind sounds. Set down the bass and sat down at the typewriter for the second half. Played the writing machine acoustically after initial mic'ing attempts results in huge bursts of feedback. Somehow its clicking keys were quite loud enough to cut through and Rcomplex finished the set unphased. Best night of Exp.Folx I can remember. Thanks to Head Boggle for setting it up. I'd have more to say about Anti-Ear's set and music in general if I wasn't fucking around with my broken camera so much, but at least you can get a visual report of the show as well at http://www.flickr.com/photos/74578389@N00/.



"Tully's XXX Birthday"

Tully's birthday... I ate 5 hot dogs and an unquantifiable amount of other food and drink. The night more or less ended with me getting a 20 gallon garbage can full of cigarette butts and half empty beer bottles dumped onto me while I was trapped beneath a pile of drums. Clearly, it was an amazing event. After consulting my audio and video documentation, I think I've pieced together an accurate account of what occurred. Birthday Indian was the first musical act to try to pull people's attention away from the grill and two-story beer bong. He played on the bus, which had parked out front for use as a second stage. It seemed like not too many people made it inside, but those who did heard another solid set from this guy. Panty Animal kicked things off on the main stage. It sounded a lot like their set at the Lab a week ago – ground hum, buzzes, echoes, etc. -- but instead of being an epic 40-minute set it was an all-too-short 10-minute set (even after acquiescing to demands for an encore). Good stuff. It's all about that 60 cycle hum for me. A mysterious ghost face noise musician played a feedback heavy set in the bus next. It was very relaxed even when the sounds occasionally became punishingly harsh. Tarantism were next up inside. A dronier set... or a “moody” set as they described it. No crazy costumes this time. Just getting down to business. It ended with Tyler making farting noises into a mic while, I think, Angie processed it. Hisseaters (one half of Panty Animal) played solo in the bus next, but I think I was eating my fourth hot dog around this time. Then Red Voice Choir inside. They were a pretty normal rock band who seemed a little out of place at this show. Something more than their name reminded me of the Red Light Sting, though I wouldn't say they sounded very much like that band. Pebbles and Bam Bam played in the bus. Stripped down drum set played through a delay pedal while Pebbles ran a piece of sheet metal, a guitar and a sack of rocks (?) through her 16 bitch processing. I think the sheet metal sounded the most brutal. The audience went pretty crazy during this set, like when the apes discovered you could use bones to bash in people's skulls. Back inside, Shark Attack played some stoner metal stuff that occasionally took on a blacker edge. I missed a lot of this because I was trying to sabotage my own set with more beer and hot dogs. Ettrick was next, and played in the back of the room instead of the bus. Drums fell apart almost immediately, were reassembled while playing, then ultimately got the better of the humans. This is where the garbage shower occurred. Cell Block was threatening a musical battle, but never got past an occasional pensive guitar chord while Ettrick played. After Ettrick had already defeated themselves, Cell Block finally played a brutal four-minute set. One-two punch and the show was over. I don't think it was even 2am yet. Pod Blotz & the East Coasters didn't show up, or maybe they got there at 3 thinking they'd play second.



Badawi / Kode9 / Bob Ostertag

Badawi and Kode9 at the Compound last night. Throughout Kode9's set there was a static projection on the wall that said “hyperdub”. I guess that's what they were up to. It sounded dubby but not hyper. If you want to listen to stuff like this, the Compound is a good place to hear it. They even hauled out one of the dual 18” subs from RML to give the other 8 subs a helping hand. Prior to taking the stage they were projecting Svankmajer's Faust with the audio run through a delay patch in Live or something like that. Highlight of the evening. I think we watched that movie three times through over the course of the night. photos

Jumping back in time... Monday night I heard Bob Ostertag give a talk at SFPALM. He focused on the tension between human bodies and machines, specifically musical instruments, with automated processes, which don't require human operation. He talked about how we have yet to create a electronic music interface that could be considered a real musical instrument, explaining that there still does not exist one that anyone would practice on for a few hours a day for their whole life as is common with other instruments. He believes the theremin is the closest we've ever come and said Clara Rockmore was one of the only virtuoso instrumentalists of electronic music. He added Jimi Hendrix and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz to that list, though he explained that their instruments were actually only amplified acoustic instruments. Interesting talk altogether kind of better than I expected it to be and probably a lot more interesting than I'm making it sound. The Improv:21 series has been pretty good from the ones I've seen. A little expensive, but Ostertag gave away a bunch of CDs for free, explaining that his music is all available for free download on his website anyway.



two nights and three shows in Oakland

I went to 21 Grand last night for Gebbia/Raskin/Powell/Nordesen/Perkins/Robair, but as soon as I parked I discovered I hadn't arrived in Oakland too late to catch Ann Joy Ann at Mama Buzz. AJA is Core of the Coalman in singer/songwriter mode. I walked in during story time about scratching an image of a butt into some glass, perhaps while watering plants at some office building. I didn't really hear enough to piece it together. Then there was a guitar and voice song, Core Ogg's “Snow Lights” performed on viola and voice, and then a guitar and voice hootenanny stomp to close the set. Good stuff. I especially liked hearing the song I recognized, which I had coincidentally played on my radio show about 19 hours earlier to promote the show. I stuck around for the Dead Hippies and missed the 21 Grand show altogether. Dead Hippies opened with some hippy jam stuff – recorders playing through delay pedals, etc. Moved into a trumpet trio. A slow 4/4 drum machine beat found its way in there and all of a sudden the three guys were all singing a pop song. Another song about the MTSU Raiders and they descended back into the delay pedal jam world. I feel like there's a certain sound unifying all of the weirdo bands I've heard from Nashville and vicinity. You can throw Taiwan Deth and Tap Tap Taparoo into that pile with the Dead Hippies, though they're both a little further out. The sound somehow reminds me of Appleton, Wisconsin. I guess it has something to do with delay pedals, concert band instruments and acoustic guitars.

After Mama Buzz I went down the road to the Uptown and arrived well before any music started. Low lighting conditions made me turn even more attention to the operation of my broken camera, and I'm realizing my appreciation of the music suffered. First up was Lemon Bear with Corey Fogel on drums. The main guy played solos on a mini snare drum, an alto sax and a trombone. Corey didn't make many sounds until the end, then he played some heavy broken polyrhythms. Bulbs' set sounded pretty heavy and clear, which is not what I'm used to from them. Sightings was more in a psychedelic vein than I expected from hearing so many of their gritty noise rock albums. Maybe if they would've run the master mix through a distortion pedal it would've sounded more like them. Guitar, bass and drum set (which seemed to have some electronic drums incorporated). I felt like I could never hear the drums even when it looked like he was playing. I'm sure that didn't help my impression of them.

Photos of both of these shows are here.

Tuesday night I checked out the Josephson/Gebbia/Looney/Smith/Winant quintet at 1510 8th St. Winant was busy cooking pasta when I got there, so the group opened up with a quartet piece. Really nice minimal stuff with Gebbia on crackle box and the other musicians matching and playing off the high pitched square waves on their respective instruments. The quartet played a louder piece in a bit more of a free jazz style, then were joined by Winant for a brief and brutal quintet piece before the pasta was served up. Two long quintet pieces after dinner. Great stuff. Winant's percussion was really the best part for me. Timpani, bass drum and cymbals. A lot Le Quan Ninh style fricative playing – cymbals pulled across the rosined bass drum head, rubber mallets rubbed on the doors and walls of the venue, etc. Noisy timbral stuff. Gebbia does some great multiphonic sax stuff, and gets even harsher when he sticks a duck call on his horn instead of the normal sax mouthpiece. Ridiculous distorted square waves blasting out of that thing as if Tralphaz was hiding inside his bell or something. I don't know what kind of duck would come to that summons, but I wouldn't want to meet it unless I was heavily armored. Fantastic night of music. Photos here.



Picking up where I left off...

The Nashville show got moved out to a house in the suburbs on really short notice. Resultingly, nobody showed up, including one band who had a scheduling conflict and another band who was never actually booked for this show. Couldn't have helped that it was a Monday night either. Tap Tap Taparoo Part III showed up and joined the booker and the resident of the house to form an audience of six (the two neighbors stayed in the living room for the whole show, so I'm not counting them). Ettrick squeezed into a sweaty corner of the basement and let loose. The six-member audience was about twice as large as the one the previous night in Kansas City, so we were stoked. Well, we were getting used to it anyway and didn't feel quite so stupid. Tap Tap Taparoo set up their amps in a circle around the perimeter of the small room. Noise that reminded me of Taiwan Deth... it's that Tennessee sound, I guess. An instructional math record was played through a delay pedal throughout the set. Harsh blasts of noise, a couple trombones, etc. Not too shabby. We eventually ate at the fucked up Hermitage Cafe – not quite as bizarre a scene as the last time we were there, but it still pretty much seemed right out of a David Lynch film. I had a poor boy.

Garfield Artworks in Pittsburgh. The guy from the venue showed up ten minutes after show time and informed us, “It's time to rock, gentlemen,” before unlocking the doors. Heroes opened... Sounded kind of like the second wave emo bands that were popular when I was in high school. I might have liked it then. Ettrick was next... finally hitting the groove. Then, the Bronze Age. Contact mics on various objects, guitars, etc. Drones and bashing. Pretty quiet. Pretty good. No delay effects used, which is something I always like to see. Golden Arm Trio closed out the night. They did the soundtrack for A Scanner Darkly, which sounds remarkably similar to the soundtrack to Waking Life, which they did not do. Similar set to the one they played in Oakland a few months back. We got “colossal fish sandwiches” at Primanti Brothers'... an 8-inch slab of fried fish on a 5-inch bun, topped with french fries, cole slaw, etc. Pretty great.

Warehouse Next Door in Washington DC. Apparently this is the only decent venue in town, and apparently it's only got a few months left (so say the locals). Not a warehouse, but a bar with an art gallery upstairs, a live music venue next door (get it?), etc. Ettrick opened, continuing to grow powerful. After the regular set, we were joined by Elliott Levin (a former Cecil Taylor band member whose own website says, “His signature single dread emits musical spores over sidewalks, music halls, and coffeehouses.” Yick.) on 3rd sax, and Scott Verrastro on 3rd drum set. Having just seen Ettrick's self destructive dual drum finale, the guests were all fired up and immediately launched into total balls out playing for the entire short set. Things sounded pretty good, though probably no better than an un-augmented Ettrick line-up. Levin's jazz-schooled approach to sax was the most interesting change. Verrastro and Levin's group, in which they were joined by an acoustic bassist and someone on noisy electronics, was next. Levin threw down some Beat-ish poetry and added flute in this set. The quieter moments, where they got into more timbral playing, were my favorites. The electronics really kept the group from straying too far into a generic free jazz area. Excellent addition. Strangely enough, the Usaisamonster headlined. They seemed a little grittier and noisier than when I last saw them at TT the Bear's in Cambridge. Probably largely because they played on the floor and through a smaller PA than at the last show. Scott brought Ettrick and Elliott to Ben's Chili Bowl after the show. Photos of Bill Cosby, Dave Chappelle and Rerun decorated their wall of fame. I had a fantastic chili half-smoke.

Studio B in Brooklyn. A Polish dance club doing a rock night to accommodate Lightning Bolt's large audience. The staff seemed to not understand or like anything that any of the 7 bands had going on. Oh well. Ettrick opened. High Places were next – kind of a poppier take on the sort of thing Gang Gang Dance does. Pretty sing-songy vocals with folktronic tribal beats. Someone tapped me on the shoulder to point out the front row filled with enraptured young men swooning over the cute singer. Dan Deacon sang along to some electro beats. Reminded me a little of Child Pornography, except in super party mode. Aa consisted of four guys playing pseudo-tribal beats on four drum sets and moaning through delay pedals. This is the sound of Brooklyn... I think. This Heat, ESG sort of thing maybe. XBXRX did their noisy punk thing. Terrible sound, as you would expect in a venue like this. They persevered. Bug Sized Mind reminded me of Yellow Swans, or maybe a happier version of Sixes. Happier meaning less dissonant and harsh. Noise with beats working their way in toward the end. A single (mercifully) short piece. Not terrible or anything, but I don't understand how or why this guy is touring with Lightning Bolt. Lightning Bolt seemed a bit louder and clearer than at their show at LoBot. Having just seen them, I didn't really pay too much attention. No fantastic greasy food tonight.

Avant Gentlemen's Lodge in Philadelphia. I really like the scene this city has going. Just when you think you're in a room of punk rockers, they all start talking about tonal harmony as if they're all music students. Ettrick opened and played the best set of the tour. Locals, Normal Love, were next. Prog rock in the same vein as Zs. Two guitars, bass, violin and drum set playing odd rhythms more or less in unison. These are some of the music school kids I was talking about. One of my favorite bands from this tour... I better give the myspace link: http://myspace.com/normallove. Plotkin/Wyskida were up next. Plotkin played laptop and guitar. Static, repetitive stuff. Sounded pretty nice, but was super laid back. Playing the laptop seemed to involve clicking something every five minutes or so, and playing the guitar consisted of adding a new sound to the loop every five minutes or so. The analog synth-sounding laptop stuff was my favorite part, and he played that for the majority of the set anyway. Tim Wyskida added quiet rumbling rolls on the drum set throughout. Pretty quiet and subdued considering the other projects these guys are involved in. Their “Live WFMU” CDR is pretty good – I think it captured a better performance than the one at AGL. Looking at http://plotkinworks.com, it seems like that disc is a limited-edition, tour-only release. Sorry, suckers. Get it on Soulseek. Ettrick joined Plotkin/Wyskida for the final set of the night. The best elements of their duo retained and injected with some vitality by the “cracked out” (-- Wyskida) style of Ettrick. It seemed very successful to me. I always feel like I should get a cheese steak when I'm in Philly, but I never do. I just ate oatmeal and watched “Night at the Museum” with the Avant Gentlemen inhabiting the Lodge.

After this, we began our return trip, heading west from the Atlantic coast into the heart of the Midwest. To be continued.