As American as illegal downloads, Christian rock and bloody hamburgers
Scent of a Mom:
The Technocultural Studies building on the UC Davis campus consists of an auditorium crowded with desks and sofas and classrooms with whiteboards and computers. A group of avant-garde musicians had the run of the place last Friday; let’s hope nobody tells the dean.
Andrew Wayne sat at a table and twiddled knobs on his effects pedals. Trippy noise ensued. Wayne calls himself Chopstick. The Buddha says: What is the sound of one chopstick feeding?
Next, the audience tromped over to a classroom, where John Brumley (Grandmother Ham, Mucky the Ducky) had networked 22 computers. People watched video footage of a beekeeper blink in unison with sequenced tones. According to Brumley, the tones were supposed to phase shift, but the software crashed during the performance. Better luck next time.
Back in the auditorium, a woman wearing Mouseketeer ears crawled on the floor. Her bare bottom showed under her ill-fitting dress. Did someone call 911? No, it was just the performance artist Mom, who disappointed for two reasons: One, the McDonald’s hamburgers that she chucked at the audience didn’t have cheese on them. Two, when she rubbed her body against this writer, he noticed that she smelled of laundered cotton, not apple pie and menstrual blood, as expected.
A couple of Bay Area bands closed the show. Terror Apart is a woman with a sampler, a collection of horns and a contact mic. Her sound was a bit run-of-the-mill. The post-human noise duo Rubber O Cement has been around since 1995. They wear costumes—a cardboard cutout of a supercomputer, an alien monster made out of scraps of junk. They handed out fliers that tell their origin myth. It’s a schizoid spew and explains little, which is too bad. The chaos of their spectacle might benefit from a solid narrative. (Jeff McCrory)
Church scene surprise:
The Sacramento Code Enforcement Department showed up at St. John’s Lutheran’s Church’s all-ages venue in Midtown, The Refuge, to inspect its noise levels this past Friday night at SN&R’s Jammies Battle of the Bands. (I know, right?!)
Funny thing is, the code enforcers walk into the club and, lo and behold, a police chief’s kid is in one of the bands, according to Refuge booker Darren Zinzer. So the enforcers stay and enjoy the show—and likely won’t be back to hassle the church venue again.
Backstage, preteen pop-punkers Simpl3Jack warmed up for the headlining slot by playing, appropriately, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Higher Ground” on bass and talking to girls. Later, onstage in front a remarkably enthusiastic crowd of more than 100, the sixth-graders blew the place up. Kids in Simpl3Jack T-shirts hugged the stage and sang along. Moms and dads applauded. And the kids were tighter than most under-rehearsed local acts. Who knew? (Nick Miller)
Buy Russ an iPod:
Tower Records founder Russ Solomon spoke Sunday night at Time Tested Books in Midtown as part of a Q-and-A session with former Sacramento Bee music critic David Watts Barton.
My only quibble with Solomon is his argument that the fall of the record store equals the loss of a “cultural thing.” If you view music through a consumer paradigm, as record-store-owner Solomon does, then, sure, not being able to hit up ToneVendor or Tower Records on Watt Avenue is a bummer—but only because it’s a shopping habit.
The “cultural thing” of enjoying music is stronger than ever.
Accessing music online has been a marked shift, which has improved how we intake music, allowing listeners to readily and affordably engage a larger pool of sounds and also reducing the likelihood that four or five major industry players will turn 90 percent of the world’s music into middle-of-the-road trash.
“I have to admit that I don’t know how to download. And I’m not going to learn, either,” Solomon said. This is a shame: The legend’s insight could give downloading that bygone brick-and-mortar feel. (N.M.)