Case of the clap

The clap first appeared on the scene at DJ Shaun Slaughter’s weekly dance party, Lipstick. We’re not referring to gonorrhea—also commonly referred to as “the clap.” We’re talking about another disease we’ll call an MTD (musically transmitted disease). The chief symptom is a strong, almost uncontrollable urge to clap along with the beat of a song.

It started out slowly: a few afflicted dancers here and there. Then, suddenly, without warning, it began spreading among the local hipsters. At first it seemed isolated to the Old Ironsides-based dance club, but then, at the never-a-secret LCD Soundsystem show at Fools Foundation, the clap once again reared its head.

Don’t get us wrong. There’s nothing offensive about clapping along with the music if your clapping doesn’t interfere with the beat the musicians are attempting to create. The clap only becomes a problem when it negatively affects the music, as was the case in at least one instance at the June 5 Out Hud show at Old Ironsides.

The outbreak happened during the set of the opening band, the San-Francisco-based quartet Tussle. During one song, members of the drum-heavy instrumental band—which features two drum kits, including one fashioned from found objects—began to create a beat with their hands. Some audience members, feeling so moved by the music, could not control the urge to clap. The results were disastrous. Unable to find the beat, the afflicted individuals detracted from the music.

Second on the bill was Gold Chains (a.k.a. Topher Lafata), who was accompanied by the hot and spicy Sue Cie. Fortunately, the band’s energetic beats inspired little clapping. The techno-rap duo took to the stage, spewing out lyrics like “Four, three, two, one / we love it when you come / to our parties and get lit / come on, let’s bump these hits.” As Lafata’s laptop pumped out beats, the duo roamed the stage, demonstrating what can be described best as a series of rhythmic seizures.

Finally, it was time for Out Hud, a New York-based band (by way of Sacramento and Berkeley). Despite some technical difficulties, including problems with vocalist Phyllis Forbes’ monitor, the band took off on a lengthy set of surging keyboards, primal drumming and crunchy electronic beats.

Near the end of the set, most of the band left the stage, while Justin Vandervolgen and bassist Lance Kruger kept the beats going. Nic Offer took to dancing with the crowd. Forbes and Molly Schnick stepped off to the side and started clapping, providing a steady beat that was easy to follow—even for those with a case of the clap. At one point, Vandervolgen turned the music down, asking, “Do you want me to stop?” The audience responded with a resounding, “No!” before launching into a euphoric frenzy. One audience member picked up a tambourine and began banging along—a more successful venture than his earlier clapping attempts. Perhaps Out Hud is the cure for the clap.