Sunday, January 27th, 2008
It's a dark and stormy night in the city of angels and a palpable sense of something special hangs in the air. People converge on the corner of 5th & Spring streets, namely Charlie O's, in search of aural pleasures not found in these parts for quite some time. The reason: the first in a series of monthly freak-outs specializing in experimental music and a communal sense of being in the arts as a whole...UndergrounDNUOS!!!
Upon entering the venue (located at the base of the monolithic Alexandria Hotel) at 10pm, a veritable buzz of activity as musicians and techies swarm about the stage whilst handmade slides and 16mm films courtesy of TeleVega shine behind them. The onlookers mingle and take in the spirits by the fistful in anticipation of the night's events.
10:16PM--M, he of An Endless Contortionist, and chief muckety-muck of the night, takes to the stage to thank one and all for coming...and then thrusts us into the surreal.
On Holiday and Her Circuit Bending Friends switch into gear as the first act of the night. Armed with a menagerie of musical toys both basic and just flat-out actual toys (i.e, Pikachu electronic toy, Grimacey-looking type of furry animal, and a Furby), On Holiday & friends seem to elicit confusion and uncertainty in some, and excitement and awe in others. Vocalist Marianne On Holiday taps away on the keyboard with Pikachu-backing chirps and tweets, while her Friends Andy Ben and Jeff Boynton join in on the madness. Andy tinkers away with his circuit-bent instruments, percussion and robots, and Jeff plays the cello, creating an otherworldly strange and surreal soundscape in a 27-minute set which merely serves to whet the appetites of the attendees.
Ever the intrepid reporter, I take time to drink in the surroundings (amongst other libations) between sets. In one corner of Charlie O's I find a table offering free, yes FREE falafel sandwiches, courtesy of Komeme! In another corner I find a table offering free, yes FREE customizing of your clothing while you wait, courtesy of 7Lightningbolt.com! The senses reel! On stage, between sets, Babl (one-half of Babl Bijits fame) hands out raffle tickets and FREE records, courtesy of Amoeba Music, much to the appreciative delight of the inebriated winners. Too much freedom! I love it!!!
11:03PM--A fight breaks out onstage!!! Well, sort of... After M proclaims "This is an experiment!", An Endless Contortionist draw first blood by letting out a cacaphonic blast of experimental free jazz that sends bats flying from their perches in the rafters. Seconds later, not to be outdone, hardcore maestros Infauxtech fight back from the front of the stage with a barrage of anger that wakes the dead and sends them scurrying down Spring street. The two bands take turns in destroying the noise ordinance laws, causing photographer Lindsey Lizzles to turn to me and scream "This music is melting my face off!" The interplay of AEC (M on alto sax, Guy Pinhas on upright bass, Nate Cole on drums, and knob-twiddling turntablist Joel Whitcomb) and Infauxtech (Kris Byerly on highly-caffeinated vocals, Mike Runion and Casey Wisenboker on guitars, and Todd no-last-name-given on drums) is truly a sight to see and hear. A true battle of the bands of the highest order, where the only casulaties are our eardrums. But tonight, that's quite welcome. Like a fight to the death, the flailing screaming gymnastic vocals of Kris Byerly, decked out in his very apropos "The L.A. Caffeine Machine" shirt, does not go down easily as he counters every sonic punch AEC happens to throw Infauxtech's way. For just a second, I seem to black out from auditory exhaustion, only to be roused back into consciousness by shouts of excitement and pandemonium from the crowd. They smell blood, and they want it in buckets!!! But we shall all live to see another day.
Thirty-three minutes later, the storm has passed. Or is it merely the calm before...
The raffle commences in earnest as I raise myself shakily from the ground, senses tossed. the only way to regain my senses is to pay the bar yet another visit, but I digress.
11:42PM--A mysterious figure in almost Victorian garb, much like H.G. Wells' Time Machine hero, ascends the stage. Who is he? Why, it's none other than electronic wunderkind Daedelus. What's that before him, you ask? Well, it's definitely not a time machine, but a very rare Monome (pronounced Mah-Noh-Mee). It looks like something straight outta Max Rebo's band, or a Lite Brite screen gone wild, you take your pick. But the power it wields is too much for one man to possess. Luckily for us, he harnesses it's powers for good and not evil, we soon learn, as he plucks musical samples and beats from it's shimmery coat. Rapper Subtitle rushes the stage a time or two to freestyle to the beats laid down by Mr. Daedelus. Thrilling to his deft manipulation of the Monome and it's sounds housed within, Daedelus stirs the crowd into a dance frenzy that pulls me into the maelstrom. Where this mob just a few minutes ago wanted blood, they now want nothing better than to dance! And they get twenty-seven hopped-up minutes of it! And they love every second...
The vibe being very much one of Inclusivity, rather than Exclusivity, I stand back and wonder if this is at all reminiscent of what nights at Warhol's Factory were like. I'd like to think so...
12:42AM--M asks all participants of the night to take to the stage. What happens next is an orgiastic cluster-fuck of improvisational musical fervor that is merely the cherry atop a series of musical highs. I smell smoke...
1AM--Festivities Cease. "This night was like the cream filling inside a Twinkie!" exclaims reveler Lori Williams. A sweet night, indeed.
Besides being a labor of love by a gathering of artists and musical freaks trying to start a fire on the musical landscape, as well as the brainchild of Matt Hayes, this a non-profit night co-sponsored by Amoeba Music and KXLU which first and foremost is about the freedom of expression in all forms. Free food! Free customizing! Free jazz! Free admission! Free expression! All the basic tenets this great night is based on! Tonight's musical and artistic alchemy gives me hope that the freaks shall truly inherit the earth! Long live UndergrounDNUOS!!!