Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Digits at Soundlab 6/27/09

Big Digits at Soundlab 6/27/09
This was such a ridiculously fun show. I had never heard of Big Digits until they came to Soundlab, and I'm really glad I decided to go check them out. I'm a total sucker for over the top, super energetic artists that are obviously having a great time.

Big Digits at Soundlab 6/27/09
Huge old school/low-fi laptop generated beats bounced under their rhymes, as they shouted each lyric while dancing and running across the stage (and eventually into the audience).

Bev Beverly w/Big DIgits 6/27/09
Earlier, local electronic artist Bev Beverly started the party, with some help from her never-ending bubble machine and guest vocals courtesy of Big Digits.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Team Robespierre at Soundlab 6/18/09

Team Robespierre

Team Robespierre

The camera is shaky on this one because the crowd and I were just rocking out too hard!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Narwhalz, Dogs and Leather

On April 23rd I arrived around at Soundlab around 11pm, right after Jack Topht and Lindey's set. I was a little disappointed, as I'm a pretty huge fan of theirs, but I'll catch them again the next time he plays around town. I chatted a bit with Mr. Topht about the music scene in Buffalo the mind boggling decision to put UB as far a way from the city as possible, leading to a downtown area that is struggling to survive and yet still vibrant with creative musical acts and visual artists. I can only imagine what it would be like if there was a steady stream of college students frequenting the many unique venues in the city.

First up was Narwhalz of Sound. Right way bonus points are awarded for Awesome Pun Based Name. He sat on the ground in front of three generations of Nintendo Gameboys - a classic brick, a color and an Advance - all of which were hooked into a mixer and run through a distortion pedal. After enthusiastically and cheerfully greeting the audience, he started declaring the wonders of "Indie Rock" and Saddle Creek. "Check out this fucking Saddle Creek Indie Bass Line about to hit!" he exclaimed as he started up one of the Gameboys and cheerful 8-Bit loop shot out from the speakers. He paused the music briefly and addressed the audience, "You feel that? I'm about to let that ride out for a second so you can all feel the independence..." Soon an array of lurching, grinding noises joined in and layed on top of the original loop. His set was great, it was essentially heavy ambient drone, but played with just the Gameboys all looping various tones. (It looked like he was using cartridges with music program ROM's.)

Narwhalz of Sound

I was enthused and impressed, and the crowd behind me was jamming to the bouncy noise. You can always count on the Sugar City kids to bring the party, and they fucking brought it with a basket of gusto. People were jamming to the beat, rocking out and busting crazy dance moves that were in no way in sync with the improvised music, but somehow meshed perfectly and created a great atmosphere. As the clusterfuck of 8-bit noise ground to it's climax, Narwhalz angrily threw the Gameboys, propelling them across the stage and declaring, "Fuck this shit! I don't even need any of this! I'm going home and I'm gonna learn how to play acoustic guitar! Because that's what indie rock is all about, guitars! And Piano! This isn't indie, I just fucking wasted all your time! " He then launched into a stream of consciousness satirical rant about the music industry, covering everything from K records ("I live at that guys old address, man, and soon enough I'm gonna start getting demos and cds in the mail! Yeah! I'll start my own label!") to how Belle and Sebastian suck even though recommends it when he's searching for Pavement records because he heard they were cool. The crowd was engaging him enthusiastically, laughing their asses off and throwing quips back his way. Russel and Zack, two regulars at any noise/experimental show, were particularly involved. There were discussions of the perils of the music industry and the responsibility of music critics, and upon discovering that Russel was a music critic he shouted "This guys a fucking writer! You're perpetuating the culture man!" This went on for a good ten minutes, at least.

Next up was DJ DogDick, who I had seen once before at the Baltimore Round Robin. His set there was much shorter and limited to some distorted noisy hipster experimental hiphop. At this show however, he had a chance to show some more range and get deeper into some soundscapes and really noisy shit. The first portion of his set was a sublime ocean of drone, he stood in front of a sampler and an array of electronics, carefully controlling the wide pulses and sparsely placed blips, all the while drifting his mic in front of a massive speaker cone (it looked like it was ripped form a gigantic amp wired it to be used separately). Each wave of the mic produced a sweeping roar of crunchy feedback, like an irate robot lion guarding it's territory. It was awesome and if I had a recording of it I'd listen to it every night.

From there he jumped into his more familiar style of fucked-up-indie-noise-hip-hop. Low-fi warbling tones danced over fat distorted beats while he rhymed into the mic. He faced away from the audience and awkwardly shifted on his feet, concentrating on working his sampler and gear. Occasionally, he'd find a moment to break from this monitoring and suddenly he would face the crowd and sway into a smooth rhythmic dance, only to shift his attention back to his gear moments later. This was by far the most danceable music all night, with the bass kicks hitting hard and loud, everyone was dancing as hard as they could. It was quite a sight to see as I nodded my head to the beat with a big grin on my face.

Sewn Leather was up last, and he just straight-up blew me the fuck away. I was dumbfounded by the intensity of his crunk/punk dance style and catchy hardcore rhymes over jacked up synth trash beats. He moved with the finesse of a backup dancer in a Madonna video and the sheer anger and intensity of a punk kid at a hardcore show. It was an amazing display of dancing, thrashing, jumping, and just plain FUN music. He had all the house lights turned off, so the venue was totally dark except for just enough ambient lighting to see the people around you and vaguely what was happening on stage. It created a great atmosphere, and made his crazy movements and mysterious dance style all the more intriguing.

Sewn Leather

At one point he ended up in the crowd, riding on the shoulders of an audience member (who I later realized was Narwhalz of Sound). He didn't just get down though, the crowd gathered around him to add support and carried him around a bit, as best as their crowd surfing abilities would allow. Later on a bunch of people jumped on stage and started dance-thrashing right along with him, creating a perfect moment of noise and chaos. This is why I go to shows. To witness music as art and just plain sheer sonic insanity. An amazing night.

Sewn Leather (riding Narwhalz of Sound)