Days of Lore
Are you experienced in experimental? Well, that was fun wasn’t it? Although it appears I can’t top Chip Tankgirl or Sean Cummins in the number of acts seen at the Palais Idéal music festival last weekend (damned World Series!), I was still able to take in some 25 in three days … now that is something else! Not to mention I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of trying a stroopwafel for the first time if I didn’t go (thanks Chip!).
I mean if you’re a lover of music, the festival was the ideal (get it?!) way to really step outside your safety-zone-bubble-routine-bar scene and see some things that you don’t normally see in a town like Chico (that is until next year’s Palais Idéal … yes, it’s happening again).
There was indeed “weirdness of all stripes” represented. It’s a shame there weren’t more people there to see it. Personally, I kind of enjoyed not seeing the same faces that go see La Dolce Vita and Machinegreen three times in a week. Don’t take that the wrong way—I like all of the people who fall under that umbrella—but it was almost like being somewhere else for a weekend, and I didn’t even have to fill up my dilapidated pick-up with gas and then pray to the Ford gods that it would make it three hours to the city.
Still, I am surprised that attendance was so sparse. In fact, The Velvet Teen show back in September brought in more dough than the entire four-day experimental festival (the festival was able to cover all expenses). Money is not the issue here, however. People are creatures of habit. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” “Give me the regular bean burrito with red sauce, instead of the Cheesy Gordita Crunch,” if I may use a Taco Bell analogy … damn, now I’m going to have to go there for lunch today.
They’re kooky all right Taking another look at the list of the some 70-plus artists who performed (or were scheduled to perform) at Palais Idéal, I could see why people might disregard descriptions like “conceptual mandolin gamelan with video projection of monkey eyeball investigations” or “sound artist using butcher paper and misc. instruments.” Sounds silly, right? But not going downtown and checking some of the nonsense defeats the true spirit of the festival.
I went and saw some things that I found completely ridiculous … and that’s not even including Botchii (sorry, had to). I mean, I watched three women sitting on pillows rubbing rocks together next to microphones. And I probably heard enough computer-generated droning to last me a lifetime. But I loved the experience.
I was also able to see bands like The Fucking Ocean, which blew me away (buy their record Le Main Rouge now … now!) and Underskore_Orkestra play Gypsy swing music all weekend, even on the sidewalk outside The Underground. I also witnessed people fleeing Has Beans after West Virginia’s Zack Kouns scared them shitless, screaming bloody murder into a microphone and wailing incoherently on a saxophone. Anyone who can clear a room that fast will always have a place in my heart. I love you Zack Kouns.
There were local performers, too. Saucebag played a sweet, sweet Friday afternoon set—“I Like Pears” is my new favorite song. Chip Tankgirl did some standup at Café Flo: “I always wanted to go on a bar crawl with Bruce Wayne, because by the fifth bar, he’d be, ‘I’m Batman … shit.’ ” West By Swan played one of the better sets I’ve seen from them—loud—and a new song that blew me away. Agent Meecrob might have turned in one of the best sets from the locals, and I hear there was some interest by one of the visiting artists in getting them to play in the Bay Area.
The spice of life So what kept people from checking the festival out? It sure as hell wasn’t from lack of promotion. And the most expensive show was the Sunday finale at $8, which was actually dropped to six bucks because of the low attendance. Everything else was $5, $3, free.
OK, there are jobs and families and life, but c’mon. I know plenty of people with kids and jobs who showed up. Safe is boring. And routine will take years off your life. There’s always next year, I suppose.