09-25-10 / PENDU DISCO feat. WHITE CAR + NIGHT GALLERY + ROBERT AA LOWE + GOLDEN BIRTHDAY + KONNICHIWA + DJ sets by Veronica Vasicka (Minimal Wave) + Beau Wanzer + DJ Harrison
Check out photos & video from this show…
Opening with a supercharged, house influenced track, Konnichiwa instantly filled the room with an energy that would linger the rest of the night, maybe longer. I can’t say. Ask whoever swept up. The rest of the set manifested that energy in the form of a highly dynamic form of minimalist pop that was precise and geometric, without feeling harshly repetitive or stiff. Coupled with Laurel Halo’s visuals, the overall impression was a bit like the video for “Fortress Field” sans the sand in your shoes, setting the tone for the surprisingly beach friendly stylings of… [drum roll, please]
The word surprising came up there because this was the first opportunity many in attendance had to hear these songs performed without the sweater of fuzz that clings so closely to their recorded versions. As ear friendly as the recorded songs are, the live performance allowed a new mix of instruments to liberate themselves from the hiss and come to the surface. This new relationship between parts injected the wistful fugue of guitars and synths injected a sense of engaged vitality that was only heightened as the band members switched instruments throughout the set.
Robert A.A. Lowe
Robert A.A. Lowe’s live set substantiated as a flow of purring drones. Initially an indivisible wall of synth, the sound eventually began to shift around subtly, as if moving parts somewhere within the sound itself, hidden from being easily perceived. Eventually semi-percussive elements began to emerge, beating out vining patterns that the drone seemed perfectly content to ignore as it attempted to pull willing listeners onto its own plane. While the set’s material didn’t seem to directly resonate with much of the work Lowe has done under the moniker of Lichens, it was undoubtedly crafted with the same care and intensity.
Like Rod Serling, creator of the Twilight Zone and the less inspired follow-up series that’s quite possibly their namesake, Night Gallery posses a deep knowledge of how to exactingly coalesce broad cultural appeal and darker themes, rather than awkwardly slapping the two together. The music’s heart is pop and the blood it pumps is most likely red food coloring and corn syrup, but exactly what it is they’re giving life to – and where that metaphor is headed – is hard to define. It’s dark pop perfection that’s hard to come by, even more so as a live show. The extra energy edged even the more brooding songs into borderline New Wave dance jam territory, raising the stakes as the room began to heat up.
From their perch behind roses, a candle, and a bunker’s worth of gear, White Car assaulted ears and eyes with all of the acidic charisma their thundering EBM beats demanded. The predominantly sample based grooves effectively harnessed the mood of the room, condensing the crowd into a dancing, sweating mass. Thunder Horse’s visuals added an intriguing element to the show, with monitors linked to cameras in front of the stage via various old school effects units throwing an altered version of the performance back at the audience as it happened. Many, including myself, found their gaze drawn from the foggy silhouettes onstage towards the warm glow of the familiar boxes. For those moments, the effect was something like being in the TV section of a David Gibson-ized Best Buy, but with much much better music. It’s now conclusively proven that White Car is best heard at extremely high volume and in the presence of a fog machine.
DJ Harrison, Beau Wanzer, and Veronica Vasicka kept the energy up filling out the dancefloor throughout the evening between bands spinning new and classic darkbeat… from minimal, to EBM/industrial classics, and the newest witch haus trax, they all hit their mark and the audience couldn’t help but keep moving. After White Car, a dance party led by Veronica Vasicka finished off the night on a high note.
-words and photos by Luke Carrell
–> White Car is an industrial space funk outfit based in Chicago, IL. The duo is comprised of Elon Katz, who writes, records and produces the music and Orion Martin who plays live electronic percussion. The music utilizes classic heavy hitting EBM rhythms and early digital synthesis while integrating ideas of pop sensibility, post-punk funk and minimal synth music.
–> Night Gallery is an ongoing project between Aaron David Ross (also of the italo-horror duo Gatekeeper) and Adam Griffin (a touring member of Golden Birthday). The two make cinematic, gothically-tinged synth-popwith just a touch of shimmering spacey-ness. Ross and Griffin met at a backyard screening of The Neverending Story in Chicago during the Summer of 2006 while both were in college. The film would prove to be an appropriate backdrop for the their first conversation, given the twoÕs penchant for narrative and cinematic songwriting (not to mention a mutual interest in decades passed). Griffin still resides in the Southside Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen, while Ross has recently relocated with Gatekeeper to Brooklyn. The eight tracks on their debut album Constant Struggle skate the line between pop ballads you want to sit down and listen to by yourself and mid-party dance floor jammers.
Robert A.A. Lowe
–> Well known for his playing bass in the beloved 90 Day Men and for his numerous releases under the Lichens moniker, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe is a prolific force in the independent music community. Not one to be pigeonholed, Lowe’s musical offerings bend genres and forge new sonic territory.
–> The afternoon of April 24th, 2006 was a turning point in the life of Ryan Sullivan. While celebrating his roommate’s 24th birthday or “golden birthday”, he experienced a sudden moment of clarity where he finally felt that the months or “possibly years of stagnation and confusion” were gone and that he was “reborn and reinvigorated.” This is when Sullivan decided to start Golden Birthday as avenue for four-track cassette experimentation. Based out of the tortilla factory turned artist studio “Wizard Island” where he lives on Chicago’s west side, Sullivan creates wistful pop from a direction uniquely his own.
–> Konnichiwa is Kaela Noel and D.V. Caputo. Together they make thoughtful, melodic, electronic pop music that one might compare to the feverish sonic landscapes of YMO with an understanding of 4AD dreaminess -combined with a touch of Sparks-esque theatrics. The duo has a gift for writing heartfelt songs that expand upon the musical foundations laid by early synthpop groups, and contemporize them without losing the initial quality of earnest legitimacy.
Kaela was born on a commune in San Francisco before moving to New York. Her mother followed a guru and she grew up learning to chant in Sanskrit. D.V. is a fourth generation Manhattanite from Chinatown/Little Italy and was also a child actor. The two met as students at LaGuardia Arts high school in New York in a Saturday afternoon drawing class. Their friendship began with a steady exchange of mix tapes and CDs. They briefly fell out of touch when Kaela had a year-long stint attending Mills College in Oakland. Terry Riley’s guest professorship at the school offered her the opportunity to become acquainted the notions of minimalism, which had a profound effect. During this time, D.V. stayed in the city trying just about every art school in New York on for size and staying up until dawn most nights playing with synths and learning about home recording. Kaela returned to New York with mixed feelings about the program at Mills, and in 2007, after running into D.V. a handful of times the two started making music together.