Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The ark that replenishes the earth

Several years ago now, (I can't remember how many), I saw an odd posting. Apparently, somehow, the band Des Ark was slated to play at the Black Cat in DC. I was not sure how this was possible, since I had heard that Aimee Argote and her band partner, Tim Herzog, had parted ways. Like many in DC who were not only personal friends of Aimee, but also avid fans of the band, we showed up eagerly waiting to see what was going to happen.

Memory may fail me, but, I believe, when I entered the space, there was only a chair with a small table next to it holding up a glass of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes (this is either before the smoking ban, or this part of the memory is completely false). Both were on the floor and not the stage.

Eventually Aimee emerged, quiet, but kind, and somberly rested herself in the chair. What came next was possibly one of the most emotive, expressive, and powerful performances that I have seen to this day. A long period of frustration and unhappiness was spilling aggressively out of a rigid body hunched over an acoustic guitar and out onto a mesmerized and electrified crowd.

After seeing several sets of this new incarnation of Des Ark, I was finally able to get a cdr demo, that contained music so sympathetic and emotional to me, that it was the soundtrack of choice for my grandmother's funeral.

Several years later still Aimee Argote, clearly the prime mover of the project, had once again amassed Des Ark into an ensemble. Now, with the ability to go from raucous electric to quiet acoustic, the group swelled in dynamism both in song composition and audience experience. It was in this time that Des Ark put out a split LP with Ben Davis, on Lovitt Records, called "Battle of the Beards", which is well worth putting your hands on.

Des Ark continue to put on amazing shows, and their set at SXSW was no exception. Anyone who understands how great this video is should check out their pages on myspace, Lovitt Records, Exotic Fever Records, and last.fm.

SXSW#23: Des Ark performing at the Lovitt Records showcase from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DC finaly sees the return of a national treasure

Even their Last.FM entry has trouble pinning down the sound of the incredibly musically proficient and deeply haunting DC band Medications. Built on the ashes of another fantastic band, Faraguet, Medications may well fall somewhere between,"Math Rock, Post-Punk and Indie Rock," but leaving the splitting of hairs, what is concrete is that they have always come on strong as true sonic hypnotists.

I can safely say that, very unfortunately, when I first moved to DC I was not open to diverse styles of music, but bands like this slowly began to take the bricks out of that wall. Somewhere between their first full length, Your Favorite People All In One Place, and seeing them live many times at the Warehouse Next Door, we shared a deep embrace that I could never let go of.

This made it all the more difficult to hear that, in July of '07, Andrew, their drummer, had decided to part ways with Devin and Chad. The future of this once great band seemed in doubt. However, the remaining pair not only stuck it out, but also began to work on new material. Now, with new drummer Mark Cisneros in tow, they are once again playing live, and, even better, trying out some of those new songs, which appear to be taking the band in a slightly new, and interesting direction. Which is to say, keep your eyes peeled here and here for updates on that new album, and hopefully more shows.

SXSW#22: Medications plays the Lovitt Records showcase from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sinisterer indeed.......

I have been watching the ever illustrious Edie Sedgwick perform since her backing band was just a frantic electro-clash playing laptop and a just as frantic video projector. With the newest incarnation involving several of DC's indie rock veterans, she's been able to explore more songwriting and stylistic options, none of which disappoint.

Such was the case when I was able to catch her set at the Lovitt Records showcase. For the uninitiated, you can find much more information about this party starlet here, or read her erotic tour blog.

Here is half of the song "Who's That Knocking at My Door," (You'll see how her large-than-life persona kept it half a song.), which, I believe, is a yet to be released. However, you should certainly check out the rest of her catalogue. And finally, if you happen to be in the area of Germany soon, you can catch her on tour.

SXSW#21: Edie Sedgwick performing at the Lovitt Records Showcase from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Everyone you know is at SXSW

One of the best parts of being at SXSW, especially if you run in music circles, is, at some point or other, running into everyone you know who is in a band, or every band you listen to. Such was the case when I randomly stumbled into Speck Brown and Brendan Majewski, better know as the hard-rocking duo from Brooklyn, Orphan.

I have to say, I've loved this band since I heard the first clips from their debut, Aborted by Birth. Not only is it worth having their record on your turntable, but it's also worth your time to look up their found footage youtube videos. I'm not the only person who seems to feel this way, so if you don't believe my words, check out those of aQ and Vice, on their Myspace profile.

I suppose it wasn't so entirely random that we crossed paths at the Lovitt Records showcase, since Speck is, after all, from DC. But whatever the case, they were kind enough to let me ask them a few questions about the album, shows, and upcoming recordings.

SXSW#20: Interview with Orphan from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

In the loop

Allow me to interject into this SXSW coverage to write about a note worthy event that took place this last weekend. While it might not necessarily qualify as music, John and I opted not to call this blog, “Music-suppository,” but rather, “Aural-suppository.” And though there might be a conflict of interest here, beyond my personal involvement this really was a very fascinating event. (And arts project in general. Something that, sadly, DC is all too lacking in …)

Several months ago I was asked if I was going to take part in a tape-loop project that a local sound artist was putting together. I said I hadn’t heard anything about it, but was certainly interested. they forwarded me the, somewhat cryptic, information encouraging me to ask for a tape if I wanted to participate. Magically, one appeared in my mailbox about a week later that was numbered, labeled, and contained some simple instructions. I was to read the passage typed on the back of the insert, and then use that to give insight, and inspiration as to what I would ultimately record onto the loop.

I’ll spare you the details of what I ended up with, and instead skip straight to the good part.

All of the preparation went towards meeting in a specific place, bringing said tape loop along with a player, finding a suitable spot, letting the tape play, and then exploring the new terrain created by a large number of other people doing the same thing. Even following the map provided, I new better than to trek off to this place myself. I took the organizers advice, and met at his place, to walk over with a suitable guide. Obviously, there was no way I could have possibly found this place myself. What we ended up walking into was an overwhelming set of ruins that I was told were the remains of the original fa├žade of the capitol building:

It's clear how stumbling upon a place like this could give someone any number of insporations. I set my tape player up, and waited to see if anyone else was going to show. (even as a mere participator, I was uncertain of attendance.) But sure enough, one by one, both tape loop players and tape loop listeners of all types began to arrive.

Around twenty minutes into the official start time given, it became a true installation. The entire area transformed into an exotic jungle of experience. It was not only nice wandering the terrain, hearing the various other ideas that people had dreamed up, but also seeing the true diversity of the crowd itself. At it’s height, it was very crowded in many different definitions of the word:

While rife with incidental sounds, I was able to get a recording of the early loops that were set up. (There were many more going later, but it was hard to get a good recording without human voices at that point):

Tapeloopinstallation - Tapeloopproject

And finally, after a mere two hours, it was all over. The spell was broken, and the rocks and trees returned to their previous and unassuming state. All in all, a good day that I was glad to have been a part of.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No comment

Just...no comment......

SXSW#19: No comment from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The events on the evening in question...

Probably the most fortuitous thing to happen to me at SXSW, was to not be able to get into the AM Only showcase. Stuck with no other options, I reached out to friends, and thus began one of the crazier strings of events of the entire weekend.........

I've already given the basic synopsis here. I thought I'd give a few more snipits, followed by the much promised videos.

Apparently, every year truly DIY parties are thrown on a nondescript bridge, (or bridges; I have no idea) somewhere outside of downtown Austin. After several texts for directions, much use of the GPS on my phone, and far too much walking, I finally stumbled onto the scene of punkdom assembled. Weaving through the crowd towards the area of greatest congregation, I found a little area where several people were attempting to set up sound gear. (I say attempting, because the bridge was packed with the largest crowd I'd seen all weekend....) When the mock stage was finally set, on walked the members of the amazing, blazing punk rock (no, real punk rock, not that garbage your little brother listens to) band Annihilation Time. This is a group who I had formally not payed much attention to, but now I have seen the light. After a rain of shoes, (Sorry Converse, your product placement was absolutely wasted), the first note struck, and all hell broke loose. You would have thought you were at a house show in Richmond, with the amount of chaos taking place, on a pedestrian bridge, over water.....

Needless to say, you can't make out very much in this video, and I rather think that's a perfect representation of the set. If I had not stopped filming when I did, my flip vid would have been totally destroyed........

SXSW#16: Annhihlation Time on a bridge from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Having thrown myself into the mix like a twelve year old, I was pretty done after this. As the Vivian Girls floated on waves of hype in the distance, I ran into my friend, super-photographer, Josh Sisk, who insisted I follow him to a rave. After several discussions of plan finality, we actually ended up going to the iheartcomix showcase first. This would have been somewhere between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning, I really have no idea. Regardless of the time, the place was still going strong. The dance floor was both massive and packed, but not as much as the stage was. Through the throngs, and photogs, I was able to get some brief footage of Drop the Lime, was keeping the crowd at about 110%:

SXSW#17: Drop the lime at iheartcomix from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

You know you won't be at a place very long when the floor is covered with mud, even though all that surrounds it is concrete, and all that is left to drink is diet vitamin water and tequila. Well, such was the case for us. Not long after we arrived, the music was cut, the lights were thrown on, and the emphatic voices began to herd everyone outside. The parking lot became a sharkpool of cab seekers. All bets were off, even if you had called the cab in question. This was how I ended up, over an hour later, in a cab with two people who I did not really know. Where were we headed? I didn't really know that either, but I was told that it was a "rave." Now, we are all familiar with the common misuse of this term by the contemporary DJ crowd, but, oh no, once I made my way to the back of a series of storage units, it was a rave indeed. This was a full on 1995 era event, replete with glow sticks, pacifiers, lazers, and far far too many brightly colored bracelets. People were doing complicated skipping moves from some Rabit in the Moon video, and everyone was looking for their invisible globe. In the worst way possible, it blew my mind. At this point, 6:00 a.m., I was far too exhausted to take decent video, but none the less felt compelled to chronicle this. So, while it might not be cable quality, here is a rough idea of what that experience was like:

SXSW#18: Rave Time!! from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Somewhere around 6:30 I decided to call a cab to the middle of nowhere, and, luckily, eventually I got one..........

No this is not the end, this is merely the midpoint!