Roughly two weeks ago now, I spent a few days in the ever amazing city of San Francisco. Beyond hanging out in record stores and cafes, I was eager to find some way to fill my evenings there. You'd never guess how helpful the people at Aquarius Records actually are. I asked what might be going on over the weekend, and instead of getting an off the cuff answer, I found myself as co-pilot in a Scotland Yard worthy hunt. After scoping across several papers and websites, the tall kindly gentleman stopped dead in his tracks,"Have you ever seen Caroliner?" he queried. Sadly my answer was going to be 'no.' "Well, they're virtually unheard of outside of SF, but they've been around forever." "It's a crazy show with costumes and costumes that merge with instruments, and more." Needless to say, that settled it for me.
What I was fortunate enough to stumble into that painfully windy Saturday night was a noise show in a multi-disciplinary artspace's gallery. If you happen to be in the Mission area in San Francisco, it might be worth your while to see what the Lab has going on.
While the opening three performers were very much enjoyable, it was the giant mystery looming behind the sheet draped over a large protrusion from the back wall that I was anxiously awaiting.
And sure enough, that time came. Down went the veil, and out popped the most surreal, dayglo portal to another world that I had ever seen. The closest I can come to describing it is, acid on acid. Instead, you should really just see for yourself:
Finding information on Caroliner can prove to be just as disorienting. While both the wikipedia entry and the myspace page tell a lose story of Caroliner being a tribute to a singing bull from the 1800's, there is little factual or helpful explanation, (though I did not scour the latter very hard).
Actually, the most enlightening bits of information came from a conversation happening behind me during the show. Somewhere out there is a video of the brainchild behind Caroliner performing the project solo, in the early eighties. This same, unnamed wunderkind, is, at this point, in his early forties, has no job, and basically lives to work on the band. (It was speculated that, in light of this, he probably lives like a cockroach. But that was just speculation.....). Most interesting of all was that the cowboy attired couple manning the merch were non other than his parents.
I spoke to his father afterward to see what, obviously, handmade record I should get. He said he couldn't tell them apart. I asked which one sounded most like the set, and his surprising reply was,"Tonight? Aw that was real tame; I've seen 'em do much crazier stuff than that." My mind was left to only imagine.
It might not justify a cross country trip, but Caroliner is certainly a group to go out of your way to get "far out" with. And while San Francisco is far from DC, it's not nearly as far as Europe. (Sonic Circuits, I'm looking at you........)