22 February, 2009
02 February, 2009
With all the accolades given to Day 1 of the Aural States Fest it was actually Day 2 that I was waiting for. It was only at the last hour that I decided to go to the first night out of respect for Alex Mudge and the rest of Aural States for tacking on a second night and allowing another fine example of why Aural States is the City Paper’s best music blog of 2008. (http://auralstates.com/2008/10/thanks-city-paper-baltimore.html ) Not only do they cover some of the best local talent but now they bring it all together.
Day 2 was something old and something new but entirely fresh.
First off was the space. The 3rd floor of the Whole Gallery was the very best space I have been to for an all night party in this city (Paradox is not included because it is out of this world). The space was a huge industrial era floor turned into loft space with the majority of the area a great open area with excellent wood floors for dancing. But this was also someone’s home that we were partying in so they deserve a big thanks for inviting us in and sharing their awesome space. Big shouts to Edward, Jessie and the 3rd floor family for opening their home to us. It was the best decorated space I’ve been to in a while. The revolving mirror monolith in the middle of the floor was a great touch.
Another great touch was more free coffee from Zekes. Whoever thought of giving party goers coffee in the wee hours is a genius! (just don’t spill it on yourself) This kept people moving a bit longer into the evening without the need for any greater stimulants.
The Music: Garret McIndoe, product of B-more but hailing now from Brooklyn, opened the night around 10pm. Doors opened at 9ish and the place was already in party mode when he went on. I heard some fun B-more club and some classicks from way back…and then lost a contact lens and had to swerve 25 blocks home to grab another eye. When I returned he had just finished. Sorry Garret. Come back and do it again sometime?
Next up was Craig Sopo of the Bmore-Electro crew with a nice long 2 ½ hour set of techno, acid, Detroit classicks and whatever else he wanted to throw down. It’s always nice to see vinyl still being used in DJ sets these days and even though he was using a laptop with Serrato, Sopo is one of those wax taxin’ DJ’s who keeps one foot firmly planted in the music’s roots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a techno bill of Detroit and NYC Dj’s with Sopo’s name somewhere in the middle.
Now, I grew up in a time and place before set lists were posted up on music forums and anyone could Google or do a discoggs search for anything and find it. When I was coming up the only place you heard these tunes was at the party and if you didn’t know the record you’d ask someone next to you. If they didn’t know then you were out of luck for the time. You just go with the flow and remember the sound because you’ll likely hear it again next week. Good records don’t go away and I appreciate a DJ who’s kept theirs.
So that was the old as far as music technology goes and the new in terms of talent in this area.
Another old/new example of the night was CEX- Ryan Kidwell. Baltimore may consider him old since he put out his first album in 1998. I have to admit, being a Baltimore resident only 2 years I have read the name before but have never seen him perform. So this was new for me.
A little Wiki search told me that this guy formed Tigerbeat6 with Miguel Depedro of Kid606. Although I’ve not heard anything from either of these two I do remember reading and hearing rants about GirlTalk and people saying that these were the groups who came way before him and what they did 10 years ago still holds up better than his work. So yea, I’ve got my own homework to do here now. Ryan, that was you? I never knew. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cex) Thank you Aural States.
So there he was with trusty laptop and soundboard cranking out sounds for the next 2 plus hours. Now, I always have trouble with laptop sets because I can’t tell if someone’s really mixing and making or if they’re just pushing play. But there was a look and feel of sounds being born and decaying, melding together and totally standing alone. I can’t get into production and arrangement because that’s not my thing. I’m a final product guy and CEX pushed his product for a good 2 plus hours. The sounds and scenes changed with the time of the evening as I noticed slower interludes to give wary dancers a minute to stop and catch their breath before something completely different came up and moved their feet again. But the theme I got from the set was a continual push of sounds. Not too fast to wear you out but just enough to keep one going for it.
Big thanks to Cex for what seemed like a long overdue set. Now that my ears are open I hope to hear more from him in the future.
On a closing note I was a bit disappointed that the 2nd night of Aural States Fest was not mentioned in 2 different radio interviews (WYPR) with both Greg Szeto and Alex Mudge. And when I say not mentioned it is no fault of Aural States but either timing or "editing" from the station. Metromix pumped Day 1 on their Friday things to do front page but was using way outdated info for day 2 and even got the venue wrong. It just seemed like Day 2 got buried, censored or both.
But once I got to the place, saw the awesome venue and the people already starting to fill it I was made aware that what was happening was, in essence, the true spirit of the underground. The advertisement wasn’t there but the people were, the flashy camera men and scene hogs were not there but those who knew or wanted to know were. Day 2 (or the party as we called it) has been going on for years without the support from major or even minor media outlets. Support comes from where it is needed. When you get the Deep Sugar crew to come out to your event, in numbers mind you, then you know you're reaching the right people. For some of us that was like having the godfather walk through your party. There were, however, many new faces that I don’t normally see out at these events and was pleased to meet so many diverse folks who came for the same thing: to dance and holler at a DJ who’s crankin’ it out!
Evening 1 was at Sonar and Talking Head Club this past Friday night and the place was packed by 8pm. I thought I was getting there early to score some rad door prizes but the gear was gone even by then and the Talking Head was already standing room only.
This was one of those evenings that very well could have been everything to everyone. There was something for all. Acoustic and electronic, heartbreak and hardcore.
If Aural States' mission was to bring the same local talent from the far reaching corners of the mind as well as the city together for 2 nights then they nailed it.
In doing this they also brought people from these various places and "scenes" together to create one big party and one big scene.
One of the all encompassing highlights of the two evenings was this diversity coming together and hearing each other's favorite music and digging it.
I think of every person I talked to that night each one was there to hear an entirely different band but stuck around to hear other bands who kept their interest and energy as well if not more.
Although I've been reading about these bands for the past 8 months through the Aural States blog I just haven't been out to hear them. Not only did I get the chance to hear them all (for the first time, mind you) but every single band I did see looked as if they were having the performance of a lifetime. The energy on stage was mirrored by the energy in the audience and every band was really going for it. I have a deep respect for anyone who can get on stage, play their music and pour themselves fully into it...and not have it suck.
Of the first night let me personally shout out those who I saw in the Talking Head:
Can not Be Stopped.
These folks poured it out and rocked the house. If there was more room I'm sure the place woulda been a mad house!
At the Sonar stage (unfortunately, set changes took a long time here and I spent most time in TH because that's where the sound was)
2 completely different sounds that I would not expect on the same bill but so happy I heard them. Special thanks to Wye Oak for taking me from the Talking Head where I just finished rocking out to what seemed like high school angst of 15 years gone to standing alone and trying to hide tears of the pain of real life that I've endured since...but believing in the hope of tomorrow.
Oh and btw, there's already a dowlnoad of the Wye Oak set out on the Aural States blog. They even take care of me after the party. Thanks guys and girls at Aural Sates. I hear that there are more downloads on the way.
And that was just Day 1.
More on Day 2 Later.
Sorry, this is not a review of the individual bands or an assesment of their sounds and talent but a recollection of the spirit that they all brought out in me. I hope others felt the same. I know a lot of them were showing it.
Let me also say that i am in no way affiliated with Aural States. I just like to promote what I love.