The Faraday Trippers at UCI, July 14 2010

Faraday Trippers

So I had a chance to meet the Faraday Trippers — the core of Mike and Pat plus newer member Bryce — at Bottled Smoke back in May. Mike runs Seagrass Recordings, who have released the various Faraday-associated recordings so far; the band itself is an all-theremin bunch.

We had a great dinner beforehand and then headed over to UCI for the show, organized by the ever-capable Acrobatics Everyday, with the band being an opener for Mahjongg. To quote myself from Twitter:

Very enjoyable show from the start — while there’s a similar all-theremin base as with the Lothars, extra percussion via bells tambourines and chimes adds a certain unexpected collage, an extra layer of rich sound. Bryce plays very subtly on his theremin, Mike is more motion-heavy, and Pat maintains steadier tones, creating a rich variety….The shift in approach as the piece continues is notable; Bryce’s percussion/drone is more frenetic, Pat’s more busy.

A full Flickr set here if you’d like to look further! That’s Bryce and Mike in silhouette at the start of this blog entry.

Not one but two OC Weekly music features by me this week

It’s the annual Feedback issue and I was able to profile a very deserving feller, Sam Farzin, KUCI DJ and founder of the Acrobatics Everyday bunch that’s been behind a slew of wonderful shows this year around here, most recently that Japanther show from last week. To quote a bit from my piece:

Whether detailing how his interest in music was sparked in high school by the commercial breakthrough of the White Stripes or the learning curve involved in putting on shows or dealing with agents, Farzin is animated, as though he wants to talk about as many things as possible in as short a period of time as he can.

“I’d see where bands were playing in Southern California and think to myself, ‘Hey, they’re playing at UCLA, they’re playing UCSD. . . why aren’t they playing UCI?’” he recalls.

Meantime, I also did a bit of a last minute feature on the then-and-now of goth coming together with two separate shows over the next few days, the Sisters of Mercy and the Birthday Massacre. Last minute because it was meant to be a full profile of the Birthday Massacre, but the band’s touring schedule wouldn’t allow for an interview, so I punted a bit and I think it shows, but still, hopefully there’s something there of worth. A quote:

Once they went the major-label route, some of that opaqueness was lost, but the music often continued to be strong, with albums such as First and Last and Always and such singles as “This Corrosion” and “Dominion” gaining Top 40 status in their native U.K. and a huge cult audience in the U.S. and elsewhere. After a couple of compilations of singles and early EPs in the early 1990s, however, a massive falling out between Eldritch and his record company led to him refusing to record anything new. His frustration with the Goth tag grew as he found himself unable to break through both media and audience preconceptions of what the Sisters were supposed to be all about.

Since then, he has led new incarnations of the group on occasional tours and showcased a variety of unreleased songs, including the excellent “We Are the Same Suzanne” and “War on Drugs,” but the Sisters are ultimately locked in stasis. Eldritch, like so many other artists, is aware that it’s his past rather than his present that sustains interest.

There’s going to be more OC Weekly-related work by me in the near future, I hope, so stay tuned…

And some shots from the Indian Jewelry/XBXRX show…

To explain more about this whole deal, repeating a bit from an earlier post — recently a great bunch of folks with KUCI affiliations, Acrobatics Everyday, led by the indefatigable Sam Farzin, have dedicated themselves to doing what hasn’t been done for a long time on campus, getting in a slew of great shows. The Peter Walker show the other week was also done by Sam and crew, but they’ve mostly done multi-band shows at night at the Phoenix Grille on campus, and there’s more on the way.

Now that's a good price

Last night the Austin band Indian Jewelry, who I quite enjoy, headlined a four-act bill along with XBXRX, Meho Plaza and Sprawl Out. Great sets from all of them and though I couldn’t stay to the very end of the night it was a wonderful time out — the use of the Grille for shows was an inspired idea, never felt too uncomfortable or hot, and the cover charge of $7 is a steal.

My full set of photos is here, but here’s a couple of selections and descriptions:

Sprawl Out semi-disappear

Sprawl Out are a local act with a good Gravity Records/the Locust jones from what I could initially tell, not to mention seeming like they could fit in at the Smell easily enough. Quick, frenetic, everybody sung at least one song and one of said songs was called “Doogie Howser,” but of course. Had free CDs to give away so I snagged one, naturally!

Meho Plaza

Meho Plaza are from LA and I hadn’t known a thing about ’em beforehand, so I was surprised (pleasantly!) to discover that they were half-noise/punk and half-melodic anthems, in a very affecting way — without sounding like they were radio ready (or ever wanted to be), by introducing the latter elements it meant that the more chaotic explosions had some shape and heft to them. Good combination, be interesting to see them again.

XBXRX

XBXRX were easily the performance highlight of the evening, not only dressed in matching outfits but barely standing still at all at any point during the set (only Weasel Walter on drums was relatively stable, and even he sprung up after every song to shake out the energy). It was almost more spectacle than music but that’s not fair to them, they know how to blend punishing noise with frenetic hooks and the crowd went pretty damn well crazy. I had to dodge a flying body or two, but that’s kinda the point.

Indian Jewelry caught in a flash

Indian Jewelry, as mentioned, were the main reason I was definitely getting there — they’ve got the psych/drone thing down that I mainline, with a good line in rumbling drumming that’s very Spacemen 3 to my ears. Couldn’t stay the whole set as mentioned but what I caught was a treat and I hope to see them again next time through. Picked up a shirt while I was at it!

The next Acrobatics Everyday show will be Captain Ahab on Friday August 22nd, so if you’re in the area/at all interested, head on over for sure.

Peter Walker in the key of E at UC Irvine

I first heard of Peter Walker a couple of years back when the half-tribute album/half his own work effort A Raga for Peter Walker came out. I was quite impressed and end up writing a review of it for the All Music Guide some time later.

Here at UC Irvine, a KUCI regular, Sam Farzin, has been doing yeoman’s work in making the campus a good place for all sorts of bands to play at or near — and as a result UCI is now at its best for such shows since the early 1990s, when my friend Jen Vineyard helped oversee or contribute towards a slew of memorable shows ranging from noontime free performances to concert hall tours. Sam’s group helping do all this is Acrobatics Everyday — you can also find them on Facebook — and I strongly encourage spreading the word about them — and any musicians reading this should check it out if they’re heading towards OC and think they could fit the bill! (Upcoming shows include Indian Jewelry and Captain Ahab.)

So anyway, the other week Sam announced that Peter would be doing a small performance here and I very much looked forward to it and was well rewarded — he’s a chatty, entertaining raconteur with a slew of great stories, his own independent view of the world and someone who enjoys home and travelling in equal measure. The set mixed both the Spanish/flamenco pieces he concentrates on these days and the earlier raga-inspired material that helped make his initial name in the 1960s, along with the American folk tradition he grew up in — one song he introduced as a combination of all three, and a beautiful number it was — and in a late afternoon setting with the natural light just being the way it was, couldn’t ask for better. From where I was sitting, as you can see from this camera angle, I could look down the guitar neck at a number of points and see the deftness with which he played demonstrated constantly — very impressive and involving.

He’s got a couple of new albums on the way, including one on Birdman, and can be found on MySpace. Check him out and wherever you are in the world, see if he’s playing nearby. You’ll find yourself well rewarded.