So, you may have noticed a lack of activity here at the ole AS this summer. (But you probably didn't...) At any rate, I was given the fantastic opportunity to set up music programming for DC's Capital Fringe Festival, and, knowing me, I geekily documented as much as I could.
I was happily surprised at the number of people who were willing to reach out and take a chance to help craft some fantastic programming for the summer, and I really couldn't thank them enough for that.
I also want to add that there were many more performers than featured here, but I was only able to be there for the full bills at the end of the evenings. Among those were the likes of such great musicians as Pygmy Lush, Paul Michel, Alien Tears (Beck from Turboslut), John Bustine, and a whole horde more. Again, I owe all of them a deep gratitude.
Things kicked off with great DC psych band The Plums, followed by a Baltimore band of the same description, Lo Moda. The show was cruising along until the ABC barged in and claimed we did not understand our permit (riiiiiight......), thereby completely nixing what would have been another eloquently killer set from ex-Sentai, third-eye BLDGS.
At the next event I was fortunate enough to have some of DC's finest, Will Eastman, Micah Vellian, and Outputmessage using vinyl and stylei like flint and kindling to burn the house down. Here's a short bit of Outputmessage:
As always, Kylos was there on the V-dexxx, and I have to say, I'm diggin' his new images...
I was talking to Sean Peoples a few weeks ago, and he told me that he was trying to re-vamp Sockets Records and really do it right this time. I found that to be an ironic statement from the head of one of the most beloved labels in DC already, but I can't say I wouldn't get behind any ramping up.
So it went with a night that he,(or I should say, Sockets Records), curated.
Chris Grier is a guitar conjurer who is almost as interesting to listen to speak as it is to hear him at his craft. I do remember him saying that whatever time he was given, he most certainly would be able to fill. (And many other, much more quality statements, best left unquoted here...)
Another powerhouse from the new Sockets records, now with more *oomph*, is fractured dance pop band, Big Gold Belt. They are what would happen if those bland, generic, pseudo Brit-pop bands were membered by actually talented, interesting people. I really love this:
And finally, bringing the house down, was the group so impressive they were asked to come back to the Fringe by it's executive Director, the Cornel West Theory. Sean is really pushing these guys, and rightfully so. Beyond talent, they are full of boundless energy, sincerity, and integrity. Plus, one of the guys wears a pasamontana...
The next night saw more of the same type of solid curation, as All Our Noise orchestrated what was probably our most successful night.
To kick things off, John and Paul Thornley, of US Royalty fame, got together to perform in a much more intimate style than they usually do, and it seemed to be a great choice for the Fringe.
Continuing in a similar vein, Typefighter proved that you can take a full band to some very quiet places that come right out to audience and take there hand before blasting off into the sky with them.
Finally, Seas shifted all the way to the other end of the spectrum, with thick, rich layers of sound that swept everything away that was not tied down.
In an odd, and semi-tragic turn of events, a friend of one of my bosses was slated to do a four part-music/sound project, but in a twisted irony, suffered serious hearing damage in a speaker accident. Needless to say, he had to drop out at the last minute.
I knuckled down and was able to fill most of the slots, but left with one....I side-stepped a few ethics and booked myself. I didn't feel it was that terrible of a decision under the circumstances. I've been toying off and on with a solo noise project for some months now. I'm trying to make it a more serious endeavor now that I have the time. This was the first time I have ever performed live, and I was fairly happy with how it sounded. (I also got a kick out of the "ambiance" going on around me, in what John called the most "demoralizing space I have ever seen.") Fair warning, it was so long Vimeo made me separate it into two vids (yes, I do expect you to indulge me in watching both installments).
Hip hop has always been an important part of my life, and also, obviously of DC in general. So there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity to have some quality MC's stop by the Fringe. I'll have to admit, I had not heard of Arda Mus before this. But Flex Mathews suggested him, and DI backed that decision. It was certainly a good choice on all sides. I'd also like to note that all of these guys were really great people, and very nice to work with.
And a pretty sweet freestyle that I unfortunately missed the very beginning of:
I had initially asked Food For Animals to play, but when they couldn't do it, it was suggested that Hy's other group, Disturbed Individuals should play in their stead. After one listen, it was a done deal. Andrew had noted that they were getting around town a lot recently, so it was fortunate that I was able to snag them for this.
Finally, one night, many moons ago now, when Head Roc was playing at the Warehouse (RIP), he brought a kid up on stage, and though I don't remember exactly what he said, it was something to the effect of," This kid is a phenomenal MC, and you should all be on the look out for him." And it was right after that moment that I was first blown away byt Flex Mathews. I've off and on kept in touch with him in the years since, but I've always been a die hard supporter. It was a no brainer that he was the first person I contacted. He got his first notice as an epic battler, back in that period. After his name was made, he charged head-long into non stop writing, performing, and promoting. Between his high work ethic, talent, and ever-amiable personality, he's earned everything he's gained. We did take a moment to laugh at the fact that in the city paper he was voted best rapper of the year, thereby beating Wale...
Did I mention he's untouchable? This freestyle was much better for those who saw it in person, but none the less.....
Jeff Barsky is the definition of multi-talented, not only playing in The Plums, but also his own noise project, Insect Factory (and considering several other members of the plums joined him on this outing, the same could be said of them as well.) They were the perfect kick off to the highlight of the Fringe, Insect Factory, BLK w/BEAR, and NYC golden children, Religious Knives.
Jim Adams is another artist who had an instantly lasting effect on me. Seeing his fragile photography at an art show soon after I moved to DC, it was hearing his collaborative album with Rothko that really impressed me. I found "Wish for a World Without Hurt," to be an incredibly haunting album, even to this day. Performing, alone and with others, under the name BLK w/BEAR, every live show holds the promise of a new and interesting relationship between convention and the concept of sound. Beyond that, in his own subtle way, he is an attention holding performer in every set. My deepest apologies that this is not my best or longest video. BLK w/BEAR deserves better, but I was in the middle of pandemonium when I shot this.
Finally, in what was one of the proudest moments of the Fringe, Religious Knives took that stage. Just as amazing live as they are on record, I'm not sure there is much more to say except that if you missed them, well....you're an idiot.
Finally, sending off this summer chronicling, one of my personally favorite nights, well.....you may have guessed it, metal. The irony of being a fan of Orphan is hearing about them due to the lauding by Aquarius Records in San Francisco, not knowing that Speck, the drummer of the duo, is from DC. But regardless of how I got there, I cannot recommend this band enough. Their performance was enough to make people who's musical tastes are questionable say,"I'm not normally into that kind of thing, but that band was awesome." I had initially put local brutalizers, Ilsa, on the bill, but when they had to drop off, they suggested adding another ilk sharing band, Tetralogy of Fallot. New indeed, I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot from this impressive group.
It seems like everyone from Mick Barr to Mark McCoy has a black metal side project these days. I'd heard that the No Neck Blues band was involved in one as well, but didn't know much about them. When Orphan said they'd asked Malkuth to join them, I'd thought I'd give them a listen. Whatever your take on this type of black metal is, I'd have to say that they are one of the most savage and kvlt groups out there. Despite having to overcome a few obstacles, they played a crushing and memorable set.
Which brings me back to Orphan, and really, what more is there to say other than "Penis Farm"?
Well, that it that my friends, and I certainly wish you all could have been there. And I also suppose this is turning into something of a video blog, which, as it's happening at my hands, I'd have to say I wholeheartedly support. Until next time...