By October 2007, The (now defunct) Spazzatorium Galleria was bustling with illegal underground shows on a nightly basis. Summer had been a blur of paint cans, parties, bonfires and sauna-esque feelings (no A/C in the gallery). All of the fun came to an abrupt and traumatic halt after several friends were victims of a gang-related robbery (not at the gallery), which left one friend in the hospital with gunshot wounds.
It was during this haze that Caspian came to Greenville with their post-rock ballads. Wrapping us all in a womb of sweeping drums and guitar, their songs gave some sort of comfort and solidarity during a time when words would have done no good.
On this 2007 tour, Caspian was in the midst of a three-month stretch playing shows coast-to coast to promote their album The Four Trees. As I write this today (in 2014), Caspian is preparing to celebrate their 10-year anniversary by playing a sold out show next month in their hometown of Beverly, MA. To get a feel for their grandiose sound, you can listen to their full catalog on Caspian’s Bandcamp page.
At the end of these photos, you can watch a video from this night in 2007. About 4:50 in, you’ll catch a pan of the crowded room, stairs and catwalk, along with lots of heads having a great time.
This post is dedicated in memory of Chris Friedrich.
Beyond the music, Moogfest is a meeting of the minds. It’s a showcase of digital music at this point in time, and a venue for discussion on where and how music can evolve. During this year’s Moogfest, I attended a panel on the Future of Instruments presented by Cyril Lance of Moog Music, Jesper Kouthoofd of Teenage Engineering, and Peter Kirn of Create Digital Music. Talking points spanned all angles; from analog to digital, from Maker/DIY to commercial. But where all of these points converged was the role music plays in our lives. One quote from this panel summed up the whole festival perfectly:
“Creating music and art are ways of celebrating the beautiful parts of being human.” – Cyril Lance (Chief Engineer of Moog Music)
Here’s a small sampling from what I saw during Moogfest 2014 (I’m being sort of biased. Escort was just mind-blowing. I might have to do a full piece on them soon)…
Crowd favorite, Escort played two encores, ran out of songs and then covered “Tainted Love”
Le1f sporting Janet Jackson at New Earth
Escort hypnotizes a packed crowd
Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks… things out of my childhood dreams
Escort performing at a shoulder-to-shoulder show inside Asheville Music Hall
One undeniably great aspect of show-going is watching bands and artists grow and morph over the years. That being said, when Jeff Blinder booked The Emotron for Spazz Fest V’s huge Saturday late-night party, I was feeling a little bit on the fence. The Emotron’s past Greenville performances have become those of show lore and legend; his GG Allin-esque antics included nudity, bodily fluids, you name it. But sometimes (a lot of times?) you just want to go to a show and not have to worry about someone peeing on you. So, I felt more than a bit relieved when Jeff released the following info in the days leading up to Spazz Fest:
THE EMOTRON. REUNION SET. No words — just come get experienced. There will be no bodily fluids exchanged by him during this performance. It’ll involve tree branches. That’s all he’ll say.
By the time I was able to make it down to the party, it was getting close to 3am. Jumping out of the car, synth beats were echoing down the street, so I hustled my way up Dickinson and was met at the door by a wave of Nag Champa. Up on stage, The Emotron was in his signature cowboy shirt, a curly wig and a silver glitter cape. More subdued and focused, this version of The Emotron was more enjoyable than previous versions. His stage presence and performance were practiced, and had much more of an impact than the old Emotron’s spastic shock value sets. His last song, dedicated to a friend battling heroin addiction, was the most poignant of the evening. At intervals during the song, The Emotron grabbed handfuls of flour, put them in his wig and shook his head while screaming a chorus about depression. By the end of the song, he had made the transformation to an old man with white hair.
Although I didn’t get that song on video, I did record The Emotron talking about his 10-year anniversary of playing shows as The Emotron before going into a new version of his song, “The Guy”…
One of the first non-American bands I ever saw perform in a living room was Les Angles Morts. Billed as “Ex-original Members of Arcade Fire,” the show caught a good bit of attention from all who had fallen in love with Funeral the year before. Myles Broscoe and Brendan Reed played on the Arcade Fire’s debut EP, but split off soon after to start their own project. Joined by Owain Lawson and Kyle Fostner, Les Angles Morts delved into abstract, experimental territories creating “post-punk movie scores” before those of us huddled in the crowded living room of the Bonque House.
After four years together, Les Angles Morts dissipated in 2006. Not many digital artifacts remain online from the band’s existence. Their essence is best captured in a video of a Cess Pool Practice from their tour, featuring the same white furry blanket in the background of the photos below.
After the show at Bonque that night, I wandered shadowy October streets with my friend Chase and a couple of members of the band. We happened upon a church that was being gutted and decided to go in and look around. Draped over a pew were blueprints for turning the church into a frat house.
What’s Real? (Kyle Fostner in the key zone)
Owain Lawson (left) and Brendan Reed (right) flanked by Myles Broscoe’s guitar
Some of Reed’s flurry of projects include co-founding Clues with Alden Penner of The Unicorns and founding Villa Villa Nola (an artist-run not-for profit arts organization fostering independent musicians)
Broscoe joined AIDS Wolf (and then left that band to move to London)