|New Takes on Old Folk-songs
||[Jul. 11th, 2005|05:20 am]
Subway Collision In Pugatory's Stale Rivers~~ (with a C++ macro choosing randomized, umlauted letters to replace the tildes on Wednesdays) is this post-rock band that my friend Efrim started. Uh, just so you know, the parenthetical statement isn't part of the band name-- at least not until we find another acid dealer. No, for now, it's more like a footnote in a Quine essay: clarification leading to further obfuscation.|
For the uninitiated, post-rock is a Derridean movement attempting to break the logocentric strictures of corporatized, homogeneous rock by playing bombastic Baroque music. Somehow, reverting to the delicate and desolate string arrangements of old instead of POWER TRIOS!#$%# is a daring Einstürzende Neubauten-esque move away from the mainstream. Post-rock is really fucking hard to dance to, which naturally draws in jaded scenesters who are mad because
a) The Bohemian spirit has become part of the globalized status quo, with Andy Warhol, Miles Davis, Jack Kerouac, and Pablo Picasso hijacked in Gap khaki ads, leaving them with no room for ideological deviation outside of the Machine with a capital M
b) Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do was a major disappointment
c) Following a Camusian understanding of total human freedom, they've pissed their angsty pants after realizing they are using it to check MySpace. And Tom says it's down for maintenance.
Okay, I'll admit that there are a few cool kids in the scene. I guess I can't blame them for engaging in ineffectual intellectual activities, because it's the best thing in this world that I have found other than going down waterslides. But Water World is closed at 3 AM whereas coffeeshops are not, and that's why you're reading this.
So, when Ef pitched the ACITSWOP~~ idea to me, I shrugged my shoulders and agreed. Only because he offered to buy me a theremin. (A theremin is an electronic instrument invented in 1919 by Léon Theremin I feel like I'm writing a children's book with all the explanatory asides; please try to keep up.) There was also a nice advantage of no rehearsals-- all you have to do in a post-rock band is start out pianissimo and crescendo like a motherfucker on an Em-Am-Bm progression. Sometimes Larry, our transsexual cellist frontman, improvises a forlorn monologue or two, but that's only when we really want to shit on our audience.
Oh, there's another catch. We only play in blacked-out venues. No lights, because lights would mean a lighting designer, and Efrim says that the entire concept of a lighting design is inherently self-parodical. So the spectacle part of our shows are somewhat limited, which means no spraying the contents of our intestinal tracts on the audience, no kissing of goat's asses, etc. This whole thing sounds more and more snotty as I write about it, but it's pretty badass. Especially when the timpanist plays.
So after that lengthy imagery-laden exposition, gather 'round me children, and I will weave you a tale of the likes you shall never hear on a Blink 182 album.
Earlier tonight, we played at this dive bar called The Buckle and Spur. It's just like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, except Larry is a female-to-male, not a male-to-female. After the Tim McGraw song, I vomited and we started setting up the stage. Gigs are sort of hard to come by for a post-rock band, and The Day-Glo show didn't work out because the manager doesn't let my theremin in. They're worried about it messing with airport traffic control. Whatever.
Efrim took a few swigs of Day-Quil and warmed up by playing a trite Messiaen riff on the xylophone in an apparent attempt to reach out to me. I happily ignored him, focusing on my 128 oz. Grape Slurpee. Erica, the third-chair cellist, had pneumonia, which meant that it would be even easier to squeeze the 15 of us onstage. Everything was coming up roses.
But as I looked into the crowd, I saw an ominous precedence of cowboy hats instead of berets. I knew we might be in trouble. But Efrim was determined to maintain our artistic integrity and take risks for our art. "It's all part of exposing our feelings to an audience that isn't ready for it, dude, it's like, like-- starry." With the maniacal DXM and pseudoephedrine-driven grin on Ef's face, I knew stopping him was impossible. When the lights went out, I felt something whoosh past my shoulder and heard the shatter afterwards. Yeah, we were getting pelted based on our Cure t-shirts and unkempt hair. This was not looking good.
We started out with an old standard, a cover of godspeed you! black emperor's "cancer towers on holy road hi-way." Give them something digestible before we get really experimental, you dig? We're not out to alienate anyone or anything. But they hadn't even studied up on the Kranky label. There was tortured howling and ear-covering as far as I could see. We were doomed. This was reminiscent of Sigur Rós' historic performance at the 4th Annual Hillbilly Convention in Amarillo, Texas.
Next we tried more accessible material: "Business Executives Imprisoned For Grievous Ignorance Of Basic Human Rights and Anti-Trust Laws." Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. Suddenly, I felt a lasso around my neck. This wasn't any stage manager pulling me off, though; it was Big Bob in the front row.
"Suffering for my art doesn't mean dying, Ef!" I screamed, my theremin changing pitches wildly as I reached up to loosen the knot. Ef, beating up a drunk white trash woman while screaming something unintelligible about Baphomet, yelled "Cut!" The band stopped playing, and he left the xylophone to reach for an acoustic guitar that our opening band, The Texan Muskrats, had errantly left behind. Suddenly, there was a major chord. I would have run in horror if there wouldn't have been a rope around my neck.
In the midst of the horror, Ef started playing clumsily and opened his mouth. Actual lyrics came out.
"If I had a hammer,
I'd hammer in the morning.
I'd hammer in the evening,
All over this land!"
It was like watching General Ulysses S. Grant suddenly change into a grey uniform. But the crowd ate it up. I joined in on theremin. Ned turned his keyboard onto the banjo setting.
"I'd hammer out danger;
I'd hammer out a warning.
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and sisters,
All over this land!"
This would have usually been the time for wielding crucifixes and holy water in general, but it was working. Big Bob was sobbing uncontrollably. Wow. Just wow. This continued until Ef had to start making up verses about "electric screwdriving out injustice."
The manager ended up paying us an extra $100. Tonight, we all learned a valuable lesson. Selling out implies the act of selling, which means you get money! And A Silver Mt. Zion isn't gold for a reason.
Yeah, I needed a prompt at Paris on the Platte tonight, so I wrote on an old topic. As always, edits and comments are always appreciated.