Moogfest / Asheville, NC / 2014

The Crystal Ark, in sequins and glory

The Crystal Ark, in sequins and glory

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 favorites, Escort

Crowd favorite, Escort played two encores, ran out of songs and then covered “Tainted Love”

Le1f at New Earth during Moogfest

Le1f sporting Janet Jackson at New Earth

Escort hypnotizes a packed crowd during Moogfest

Escort hypnotizes a packed crowd

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks... things out of my childhood dreams

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks… things out of my childhood dreams

Escort performing at a shoulder-to-shoulder show inside Asheville Music Hall

Escort performing at a shoulder-to-shoulder show inside Asheville Music Hall

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Warpaint / Raleigh, NC / 2011

Since there was a tie in the Choose Your Own Adventure poll, an executive decision has been made to feature Warpaint next.

Warpaint setlist April 3, 2011

Warpaint setlist April 3, 2011

 

Late 2010, I hosted a holiday dinner party. My friend Jon arrived with a stack of CD-Rs for me, which included Warpaint’s 2009 EP, Exquisite Corpse and their 2010 album, The Fool.

When I got a chance to listen to the CDs, Set Your Arms Down (the first track on The Fool), immediately conjured up haunted memories of living in Greenville. All of the songs to follow had that same feel. And for once, it felt like there were others out there struggling with the same issues of being female, dealing with relationship limbo, having to quell primal feelings and still be taken seriously as an artist or musician without cheapening the sound and feel of the songs being created and produced. Aside from feeling a personal connection, this album was packed with solid riffs and harmonization and I had it on heavy rotation for weeks.

Fast-forward a few months to April 2011. Warpaint played a packed show at Kings Barcade in Raleigh and did not disappoint. Guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman flanked both sides of the stage with ethereal presence, while Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass) and Stella Mozgawa (drums) kept all of the songs grounded from center stage. I was able to pick up this setlist after the show. There’s also a video below of Warpaint playing Majesty. The camera I used at the time was pretty heinous and I’m kind of cringing at the idea of sharing this with you, but I’m just an amateur and the audio is good (close your eyes or look at something else while you listen).

 

Upcoming: Choose Your Own Adventure!

UPDATE 4/11/14: I had every intention of having a new post up about the winner, but there has been a TIE! I am working on a creative solution to pick a winner. Thanks for voting!

Hi, all! Thanks so much for spreading the love and visiting Loud Ballads each week. I’ve been live for a month and have received over 200 views! As a big ol’ thank you, I’d like to let you choose which band you want to see from next. Here are a few random choices with a little bit of span. I’ll keep the voting open through Thursday night and will sling up a new post on Friday.

One other item of business: if you don’t know what to do with that pile of flyers collecting dust in the corner of your room and are thinking of throwing it away, STOP! I will adopt your collection if it needs a new home. Love and dirt, friends!

The Emotron / Greenville, NC / Spazz Fest V – 2014

The Emotron at Spazz Fest V

The Emotron at Spazz Fest V

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”…

 

Sword Heaven / Greenville, NC / 2006

Spazz Fest V kicks off tonight! A celebration of DIY music in Greenville, this time of year brings waves of nostalgia for those of us who supported (and still support) a robust and diverse music scene out in the middle of eastern North Carolina.

Last week, a few friends were reminiscing about this 2006 show at Spazz Haus. An intense night of noise, Sword Heaven (Columbus, OH) scraped skulls along with Greenville solo acts Birth Rattle and Camarilla. One of the most intense bands I’ve ever witnessed in a living room, Sword Heaven (whose influences include Swans, Sun O))) and Godflesh) was a possessed duo that can only be completely experienced by seeing live. Although not quite the same as being surrounded by sweaty bodies, you can skip the musty armpits & ringing ears and check out this clip of them playing Amsterdam in 2008.

Noise night @ Spazz Haus

Flyer designed by Jim Capps and Nathan Maxwell

MORE DIRT:

  • By this point, you’re probably thinking that the guys in Sword Heaven are pretty dark people. BUT, guess what? In 2009, Aaron Hibbs (drums) broke the Guinness world record for Marathon Hula Hooping by hula-ing for 75 consecutive hours. To answer the next question in your mind, he wore a catheter. You can check out his Hula Hoop Marathon site or this short interview.
  • The other half of Sword Heaven, Mark Van Fleet, is still making music under his own name.
  • Camarilla was the solo project of Steve Backus from Network of Terror. A wiz with the theremin, the first time he ever played one was at a showing of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ in Raleigh, NC.
  • Greenville’s own Fathers of Noise, Jim Capps and Nathan Maxwell, are still playing sets as Birth Rattle.
  • Check out a clip of Jim playing Nightlight in 2010, or a more recent vid of him playing as part of the J.M. Borer/ C. Arthur W./ Jim Capps Trio at All Day Records’ 3rd birthday celebration.

Art Lord and the Self-Portraits / Greenville, NC / 2004

Flying Salsa was a short-lived burrito joint on the corner of S. Evans St. and E. 5th St. in Greenville. They hosted quite a few shows, and those of us in bands lucky enough to play there were fed Mexican food and beer to our heart’s content and always left with some extra spending money in our pockets.

Art Lord bassist, William Cashion in a legendary Listessa shirt

Art Lord bassist, William Cashion, in a legendary Listessa shirt

MORE DIRT:

  • Art Lord and the Self-Portraits is the precursor to Future Islands
  • The Quails was a short-lived name. Soon after this show, they changed their moniker to The Capulets. After The Capulets broke up, Stu McLamb started The Love Language and Josh Pope started The Light Pines (and then after that, recorded songs as Cocoon).
  • Dig Shovel Dig was originally from Asheville. Now living in two different states, Ted Robinson and Mark Williams recorded their last album, America With 2 East Coasts in 2012

Les Angles Morts / Greenville, NC / 2005

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?

What’s Real? (Kyle Fostner in the key zone)

At the Bonque House in October 2005.

Owain Lawson (left) and Brendan Reed (right) flanked by Myles Broscoe’s guitar

Brendan Reed setting landscapes

Brendan Reed setting landscapes

From Church to Frat House?

From church to frat house?

MORE DIRT:

  • After LAM, Lawson and Fostner started Black Feelings
  • 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)