The Monday following Spazz Fest is always sort of a bummer; you go back to wherever you traveled from, you’re exhausted, your body hurts, and you go through show withdrawals. At least there’s that feeling that it was all worth every single second. Cheers to all of the kindred spirits I met (or was reunited with) over the weekend! Thanks especially to Jeff Blinder and way too many other names to list. See you soon.
‘Tis the season for Spazz Fest! Officially kicking off tomorrow night in Greenville, NC, the next four days and nights will be filled with more music than what’s buried in your dead iPod Classic. As always, there will be some surprises in store (did you catch The Emotron last year?).
I’ve teamed up with Spazz Presents to create the official SPAZZ FEST VI SCHEDULE listing all of the main shows so you can plan accordingly. See you in Greenville!
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.
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”…
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.
- 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.
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 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
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.
- 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)