Month: August 2010

Whartscape 2010 Part III: The Day of the Drummer Frontpeople

Finally found a copy of the Whart Z010 program floating somewhere online.

Phew, was worried that I’d never be able to come across an accurate listing of the festival artists again.

******

Well, on Saturday, Charles and I decided to swing by Whartscape slightly later. Our legs were unable to hold up to our original ambitious plan of seeing every artist from noon till past midnight.

We got to the outdoor Current Space at around 3, just in time to see Altered States come on. Altered States announced that they were out of good old Chicago. That immediately put me on their good side. The duo consisted of a drumming frontwoman and a guy on backing synths. Very cool setup. Also, very cool sound. Their music consisted of trance-inducing, tribal-sounding stuff that I don’t feel like classifying into any genre right now. The presence of a drumming frontperson amazed me. I’d never seen one before. Impressively, I’d see a couple more of those before the end of the day.

Following Altered States was Dope Body. Accurate band name — these cats were quintessentially dope. Their sound could be described as frenetic noise punk with some vicious, disgustingly bone-crunching distortion. Moreover, man, what transitions. While I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of punk, I have to say, I’m an absolute sucker for the punk-ish transitions that are stylistically affiliated with the genre. And these guys had brutal, visceral transitions in spades.

I liked Child Bite and Thank You, but I don’t remember exactly how they sounded. I simply remember that my ears were pleased.

Anyhow, with Ed Schrader, the streak of enjoyably distinct artists was broken by something “appreciatively” distinct. Charles and I decided it was a good time to take a break, and we went to get some delicious roasted duck from a nearby Chinese place.

We came back just in time for Ponytail. Awesome. Dustin Wong was awesome with his shrieking and outrageously enthusiastic guitar playing. Actually, “enthusiasm” is a good word to describe the whole band. Wikipedia describes their work as falling under the genres of art rock, surf rock, and noise pop. Those terms still mean nothing to me. All I know is that this band exuded fun from every fingertip, facial twitch, and sweat drop. Frontgirl Molly Siegel was batshit insane, face seemingly melting every few seconds throughout the set. Charles aptly stated what we all thought — the chick has an insanely flexible face. All said, Ponytail probably was the second or third favorite act I saw that weekend.

And after Ponytail, came my favorite act of the weekend — the Dan Deacon Ensemble. Not just Dan DJ’ing, which is what he usually does on his tour. This was a bombastic, cannons-ablaze setup, manned by over half-a-dozen people. This performance was just like the Ensemble’s at Lollapalooza last year — pure ecstasy. This is why I don’t have any urge to test out recreational drugs, for now; concerts are enough for me. Intense moshpit. I had to frequently come out for breathers. But people rubbing together, breathing heavily, sweating, grinning, convulsing in mellow moshpits — yeah, this thing kind of resembled mental, spiritual communal sex. I have little else to say and will now point you to these pictures, which regrettably, only capture a slightly bit of the jubilee that was present:

No Age was next on the schedule. Having seen their Pitchfork reputation and liked the little that I heard from their latest album, I had some moderately high expectations for their performance. Those expectations were ultimately left unfulfilled. The guys were competent, but simply sounded a bit too…normal, in comparison to everything else I’ve heard throughout the day, to appeal to me at the moment. That said, I was impressed by the appearance of another drummer frontman.

More power too all the drummer frontpersons of this world. How are they coordinated enough to sing and bash at the same time? How the fuck do they breath in enough oxygen to sing and bash at the same time? This sounds like grounds for an NIH study right here.

Arab on Radar followed No Age. Arab’s appearance was highly anticipated by festival-goers — the band was playing together for the first time since 2002. The reunion of the bandmembers was a big deal, because these guys were apparently East Coast noise legends. Amazingly enough, I was able to sit through their performance. The antics of the lead vocalist were kind of entertaining, even if his lyrics were downright juvenile. Too noise-y for me to really enjoy, but bearable enough for me to “appreciate.”

The night closed out with Lightning Bolt. Pure violence. Worst moshpit I’ve ever observed. Charles had the misfortune of being bounced right up to the front of the stage like a ragdoll, and didn’t escape for 20 minutes. I was luckier. Came across a pristine can of beer in the middle of the moshpit, which I quickly shared and chugged with a bro next to me, and was then able to quickly navigate to the fringes of the pit. I managed to get through the set without fat shirtless men sliming all up on me. The performance itself was a spectacle to behold. Nah, I wont be jamming to Lightning Bolt’s music while doing my homework anytime soon, but damn, the drummer was a fucking sight to behold. The third, last, and greatest drummer frontman of the day. According to Wikipedia, the guy’s name is this ordinary ‘Brian Chippendale.’ His playing was anything but. Fastest motherfucker drummer I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing. In addition to seeming having eight arms, the guy made frightening utterances through a miked-up, ghoulish-looking cloth mask. Arguably one of the sickest moments of the day was when some douchebag threw a cigarette but at Chippendale. He was playing so fast, his drumsticks sliced apart the cigarette in midair, disintegrating the once tangible object into an ethereal cloud of glowing ember-dust. Chippendale responded with a resounding middle finger. Charles abhorred the music in the set, but he admitted, “That guy is good at what he does.”

******

Too tired from slogging through moshpits, Charles and I trudged home for the night to recharge for one final day of music.

Andy Streetball: The Worth of a Facial

I met this guy while playing basketball. Name was Lamar. Money baller, as close to Kobe as you usually get on streetball courts.

Lamar contributed many points. And also a valuable piece of advice that was heeded by everyone on the basketball court:

“Thirteen dollars. That’s how much a facial is worth.”

He wasn’t referring to “facials,” as in swishing a basket in someone’s face, but “facials,” as in the sexual euphemism for splooging a sexual partner’s face up with male reproductive fluids.

Word taken, Lamar.

Whartscape 2010 Part II

So Javelin came and went in all too short a period of time.

High hopes followed for something more standard-fare indie-dance-synth-electropop. I like discovering and being challenged by new things, but the weather was hot and muggy. I couldn’t think. I wanted to dance.

This wish was fulfilled in an unexpected manner, in the form of DJ Scottie B. Electropop he was not — as the name so obviously suggests, he was a disc jockey — but danceable his mixing was. Surprisingly, he wasn’t too out-there. During his set, I felt like I was in a club without a roof, and a lot of uncoordinated, spazzy hipsters, instead of uncoordinated, drunk bros. I thought any DJ invited would’ve mixed some really weird shit, but no, he played some recognizable stuff. He underlaid LMFAO’s “Shots” beat through what seemed like 90% of his mix, and stitched in samples from older hip-hop and R&B acts like 2 Live Crew and Boyz II Men. Very rarely he did bring some recent highlights, like perennial Major Lazer favorite, “Pon De Floor.” On his MySpace, Scottie describes his sound as, “Baltimore club,or baltimore club influenced by house.” Like the case with most musical terminology, those words mean nothing to me. I don’t know enough about Baltimore to know about Baltimore club, and the only things I know about House is that it originated in Chicago and features the prominent usage of bass-heavy beats and soul/funk samples. What I do know was that the set was some good fun. I was surprised by the fact there was no grinding. I guess hipsters really dislike grinding. This conjures up a lot of images of people dancing all by their lonesomes. Yeah, people were dancing by themselves, but it was still fun. All smiles and laughs. Hard to describe — I was thought club music would suck without grinding, but it didn’t. Anyhow, I heard after his set that Scottie B was supposed to be a local legend. I don’t doubt that. He showed his mettle.

******

I admit, perhaps it was too much to expect three danceable acts in a row. The guy after Scottie B, I forgot his name, didn’t strike my interest. A guy with just a synthesizer and a mic. He wasn’t unlistenable, but his stuff was a bit too droning and dull. Charles and I decided to take another break.

We came back just in time for DJ Dog Dick. Again, just a guy with a synthesizer and a mic.

I was expecting to hear perhaps something a little lyrically offensive, but man, I wasn’t actually prepared to hear something that sounded exactly like Dog Dick. Jesus Christ, even for the sake of being open-minded, I couldn’t listen to this. The guy’s beats were decent, but his voice, good God, didn’t fit the instrumentals. I’d be hard-pressed to find any sort of instrumentals that would fit. Sure enough, the vocals were offensive. Ignoring lyrical content, the noises emanating from the man’s larynx were already offensive enough for me. Cracking falsetto hyena yelps that would’ve been fit to use for torturing captured Iraqi insurgents. The torture playlist allegedly features the likes of Metallica, Don McLean, ACDC, Tupac, Eminem, the Bee Gees, among other prominent American acts. It’s no wonder the suspects don’t talk — they’re being played some fairly mainstream and uninsulting music. Play them some Dog Dick.

A quick visit to his MySpace page doesn’t give me confidence that Dog Dick’s songwriting  redeems the sound of his voice. Titles of his pieces include the likes of, “PISSS MIXXX” and “ELECTRO SEXXX FRENZY BANG BANG BANG.” Electro Sexxx features a spiritually enlightening refrain of “I bet that she is wet!” or something like that.

Afterwards was Get Em Mamis, a rather conventional female hip-hop duo. I don’t use conventional as an insult. They simply sounded very normal after the previous debacle. Their set was lighthearted, summer fun. They rapped about being hot, not to be fucked with, and ready for a good fucking, pretty standard hip-hop fare. There’s not much to describe. They got the audience to cheer and sing along. They just couldn’t get any grinding going, which is not their fault. One of the funniest moments of the day was actually when the lead chick, dressed in white in the picture above, playfully accused a guy in the audience of ogling her. The guy awkwardly blinked for a second, before stammering, “H-hell yeah!” The collision between ghetto and hipster didn’t pan out so well this time around.

Lil’ B closed at the outdoor stages.

Charles and I stayed for less than ten minutes. You know what, I’d like to apologize for what I said about DJ Dog Dick and take back my mean words. Lil’ B was truly offensive. He talked, more than rapped over two flaccid beats, and repeatedly called out for the girls in the audience to show him their titties, while tacking on the word “swag” to the end of every one of his sentences. I used to like the word, but he destroyed it for me. Charles raised a good point — at this point of abuse, what does “swag” even mean?

“Ladies, show me your tittes! Swag.”

“Swag” is supposed to be an abbreviated form of swagger, or slang to describe a cool piece of clothing or accessory, but in that context, it’s lost all its meaning.

Lil’ B killed swag.

******

I couldn’t end my night on that note.

So tired as we were, Charles and I headed to the next set of sets being held at the H&H.

The H&H is an awesome residential building that seems to serve as a haven for hipsters. The rooms on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th floors, respectively known as The Whole Gallery, Gallery Four, The Fifth Dimension, and Floristree, double as performance halls and art galleries in addition to living spaces. Sick sick place to be. I kinda wish I got the chance to live there for a week.

Charles and I traveled up and down the floors, though we did primarily stay in Floristree. There was nothing that really blew me away in terms of music, but a handful of artists did catch my ears. Unfortunately, I made a grave mistake in not taking a Whartscape program with me. Unable to match band names with the performers, many of these artists will probably be lost to me forever. I only remember two names from my stay at the  H&H, Polygons and Teengirl Fantasy (who I initially took to be Pictureplane, and then left the festival as a result before actual Pictureplane came on, fuck).

Polygons played some defusing and relaxing chillwave. I closed my eyes and imagined the rolling golden hills of California while listening to their pieces.

Teengirl Fantasy’s set was also relaxing, something to bob and dip my head to, rather than thrash and bounce. There songs typically used a harder and faster beat than what I heard the Polygons play, but I similarly closed my eyes and daydreamed to Teengirl Fantasy’s music. Reminded me of seagulls and vanilla-colored beaches.

Man, I think I’m really homesick.

******

So, the day ultimately ended on a satisfying enough note, the disaster that was Lil’ B having been made up for by the dalliance at the H&H. I kicked myself later for having missed out on Adventure (I have a soft spot for 8-bit synths) and Pictureplane, due to a delay of schedule that confused me, but eh, what’s passed is passed.

Too exhausted and dehydrated to fight out way through the concrete jungles of Baltimore, Charles and I took a taxi back, ready for the next day.

You only remember the nightmares and the weird shit

It’s always been mystifying to me. Remembering a dream is like trying to catch sand. No matter how vivid, beautiful, dazzling, seemingly unforgettable they are, they drift back to the wonderful mystery that is our subconscious within seconds. I keep on trying to remember my dreams long enough so that I can write them in my blog, but to no avail. I probably need to start doing that notebook-and-pen-by-the-bedside trick.

We usually forget everything. I’ve heard a lot of adults tell me, I don’t dream. I don’t buy that anymore. Everybody dreams. We just forget everything. They say that you’re better at remembering dreams when you’re younger. Bullshit. Kids just make stuff up.

But on the rare chance that we don’t entirely forget, don’t entirely let that flight of fancy disintegrate into oblivion, the stuff that we do remember is all the scary, bloodcurdling, sexual, and fucking strange shit.

I had a dream a couple of nights ago. Fantastic epic, prompted by the hours of playing Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress preceding my shuteye. If I’d managed to commit it to memory, it would have made my novel-writing endeavor that much easier. But instead, I only remember this one moment — some guy shoots me execution-style. Bullet blasts a hole right at the top center of my cranium. It fucking hurt.

But I get right back up. Other than the fact that I started walking with a crip-limp and was somewhat bothered by my funny-bone, I was perfectly fine.

A damn shame I don’t remember the rest of the goofy story.

P.S: Yeah, I still have to recap the rest of Whartscape Z010, lazy, procrastinating bum that I am. O spare me, Gods of Experimental Noise.