Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Bringing the party
Tonight, I performed a rare concert at The Glass Door in Bushwick, opening for my musical friends The Binary Marketing Show and Wagner. I keep my music mostly to myself and I usually perform about once or twice a year. The Binary Marketing Show is an up-and-coming electroacoustic band composed of four good friends of mine who are all from the South and live in Brooklyn. Wagner is the solo dance project of my main mec français, Yan Wagner. (None of us knew about this flyer, designed by friend of a friend with a curious imagination, before it was posted on Facebook.) Over the course of several hours, a chill party with a few dozen guests grew into a drunken blowout wingding.
The last time I was at The Glass Door, a scrappy performance space on the second floor of a nondescript building in Bushwick, The Binary Marketing Show played a show with a screamo band from New Jersey on New Year's Eve to an audience of about a dozen. It was the second show that the organizers--Steph and Jonny--had put on; the place had the unseemly name Retox and the walls were all painted a stark white. Fifty-odd shows/parties have gone on since. Now, the walls in the main space are covered with perverse cartoons (a monster with a scrotum attached to his head; an alien with four arms holding a smoky bong and a 40 oz.; what looks to be a caricature of Saddam Hussein, with a corresponding speech balloon that says "I HATE EVERYONE AND MYSELF") and cryptic graffitos ("DOUCHE COUGAR"; "Chuck Norris Beard gives Back Alley Abortions"; "DONNER PARTY PICNIC"; "Re-Pent & thou shall Be SAVED"). The venue seems legal enough and aspiring musicians should take note that it is currently booking shows for July and August. But like we did tonight, you'll have to bring the party!
Despite some technical difficulties early on, my performance turned out great. Enhanced by a borrowed delay pedal, my voice echoed through the room over my blistering programmed beats, jumpy bass lines and harsh keyboard phrases. I sang several of what one might consider pathetic love songs, and in other tunes I covered such interesting topics as my strange fascination with the Ogaden Desert in Ethiopia, my opinion on what should be done with the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay ("Close it down! Close it down! Close it down!"), and the tragic complexities of counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq. But it wasn't the verses that won accolades from a few audience members, it was the beats. Michael Pope, who did crunked-up, down 'n' dirty DJ sets in between the night's three performances, even insisted that I become a producer: Quite a powerful compliment for somebody who has long considered this beat-making little more than a hobby.
The Binary Marketing Show, a bruising force driven by warped samples, resonant guitars, deep rhythms, FX-drenched vocal lines and introspective verses, put on a hearty performance. No doubt I'm seeing things a little bit differently because these people are my friends, but I think that Binary is a hot and promising band. Their new album, Pattern, is complex and rich with detail, sometimes bizarre and other times catchy. In a recent Pitchfork review of the track "Shape Of Your Head", Brian Howe accused the band of literally pretending to be Animal Collective. "It seems like such a meticulous diagnostic of the digi-tribal aesthetic that it can be hard to hear it as its own entity," he writes. Alas, yet another perfectly unique, innovative and catchy song is charged with conspiracy and fraud because a critic is incapable of simply enjoying it. Thankfully, Animal Noises Music Blog published a rebuttal earlier today. "Not only does The Binary Marketing Show's new track, 'Shape of Your Head' not sound anything like Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam," John writes, "but it sounds nothing like Animal Collective."
Wagner quite simply stole the show: The moment he started throwing down his funky, Kraftwerk-style synth lines and infectious clap-heavy beats, the audience became electric. Wagner's music, a cross between classic Detroit techno and glamorous electro-pop, has an irresistible summertime feel to it; we in the audience worked up a healthy summertime sweat as we gyrated wildly.
He played an encore, responding to applause, cheers, and cries of "Encore!" and "Sans déconner, mec!" When the song came to an end, he said, "Thank you for staying."
"Thank you for coming," replied organizer Steph. "It's like an orgy."