So Chrome Sparks apparently has a few hours open in his schedule to visit ABQ—somewhere in between juggling his gajillion other projects and fulfilling his role as busiest spacey electro-pop composer on the planet. New Mexico seems like the perfect place for those wide-open, expansive tunes of his. Maybe someone can talk him into posting up in the middle of the desert next time. Sound carries further at night and can have a a really spooky resonance. Just saying. This Friday, Sept. 30, he'll be wowing the pants off of us at Sister Bar (which is indoors, unfortunately) starting at 9pm. Sister • Fri Sep 30 • 9pm • $10-$12 • 21+ • View on Alibi calendar
Open Your Lungs, Wash Your Countenance, Exercise Your Eyes and Soften Your Temper
Thursday, Jan 26: Mono/Poly • electronic, experimental, alternative hip-hop, glitch • Tsuruda • trap, grime, dubstep • 1960sfe • chill wave
Friday, Sep 30: Chrome Sparks
After being catcalled by some idiot (who then stalled out on Central, take that ya dumb idiot) I arrived at the Launchpad. It was the least crowded I’ve seen it in a while which I found surprising because in the alternative scene in Albuquerque, I gathered that Palisades and Secrets are popular. I’ve seen Palisades once and that was last year at Warped Tour and I really enjoyed the show then, so I was excited to see what they would be like to see them in a small venue.
Certainly more people were there than at Warped, possibly because they’ve become more popular since last summer but it’s more likely that it’s because it was a Wednesday evening. Who has stuff to do then? I digress.
I got to my seat on the balcony just in time. Picturesque started playing as soon as I sat down. There were far more people on the floor than the balcony, which isn’t usually the case. Actually, that’s probably not true. It just feels that way to me because normally when I arrive late to a show and I get beer, I have to stand on my tippy toes behind a crowd of people sitting and standing. Glob bless, I still got center.
Picturesque has such a pronounced, exciting and consistent energy. Within the first song, just seeing them perform for a few minutes, I decided that they’re going to get huge in the alternative scene very soon. They connected with the audience not only with their music and energy, but they shared that it wasn’t their first time in town; The last time they were here they played a house show and one of their local friends was in the audience.
Lead singer Kyle Hollis' voice was noticeably high pitched. With his clean/unclean vocals he’s able to communicate very beautiful, sincere, deep emotions. Add that to the pop-punk, post-hardcore guitar riffs and brilliantly executed drums and it was very powerful and meaningful. I particularly liked the drummer. He was robust and explosive while also maintaining an intelligent and transposable consistency.
I don’t think I’ve never seen an opening band get an audience so amped up so quickly. Although, the crowd could have been ready to go before the show started. The audience was really receptive to the band's requests. They responded immediately and positively, which is kind of uncommon. Whenever I hear people say they love Albuquerque and the crowd is great, I hardly believe them. I think, “Don’t pretend like you think we’re special! I know you say that to Tulsa, too. Nothing is special about Tulsa to you and neither is Albuquerque. I see through your lies, you heathen!”
I know people here that go to shows are usually really into it, but seeing that audience it was incredible. I don’t think I can properly communicate it. The crowd moved as a whole and independently. Everyone was nice to each other. Everyone was in good spirits. There weren’t any people who were too drunk or too high. When I heard the bands thank the audience for being such a great crowd that night, I really believed they meant it.
Picturesque ended up playing about 5 songs. Before the last song played, the audience was getting antsy. The first mosh pit of the night happened shortly after the last song began.
At some point during the set change, when I was looking at my Faceplace, I saw that Secrets had to cancel because they were sick. It’s unfortunate but I understand. It seems to me a lot of bands that tour through Albuquerque (and probably elsewhere, I guess) are battling some kind of cold or similar sickness.
Too Close To Touch were exceptional performers. The well-known (and well-toured) alternative bands that I’ve seen have a very particular showmanship “move”: They put on a performance that interconnects with the other band members while doing their own thing. What I really mean is, they each do their own best version of sexy but it all flows together. It’s something I’ve noticed with Crown the Empire, We Came As Romans, Hollywood Undead, Silverstein, The Neighborhood and more that I can’t remember right now because I’m a little sleep deprived (sorry). While I didn’t completely enjoy their music, I really appreciated their performance and dedication to the audience. At one point, lead singer Keaton Pierce got a nosebleed (I gathered that it wasn’t uncommon for him, what a neeeeerd) and he kept going. What a trooper! For their entire set they were all very high energy and also super professional.
Finally Palisades took the stage. I noticed right away that Louis Miceli Jr.’s (lead vocals) voice wasn’t what it normally was like or how I remembered it, and I was disappointed. I blamed my summer-heat-induced craziness for misremembering the remarkable show they put on last time I saw them. Later, Miceli informed us that he was getting over whatever Secrets was coming down with, so I’m going to stand by my original not-
Regardless of the sickly vocalist, the crowd was wild. After the band absorbed some of the crowd’s energy, they were equally energized. The crowd was moshing and doing death walls, they were just as entertaining to watch as the band.
I really like Palisades because they conspicuously mix genres, which is the future of music (in my humble opinion). Palisades mainly mixes hardcore and dubstep (yaaas, I’m so into it) but I also noticed they did a hardcore and memestep mix.
For those of you who don’t know what memestep is, it’s relatively new, but it’s just using vocals from vines and mixing it with dubstep/hardcore electrona/general EDM. Like, for example, they used the “Damn, Daniel!” vocal from that well-known meme (which was awesome and caused me to leave my seat on the balcony and go downstairs). It was fantastic being at a show that was basically a post metal-hardcore rave, I loved it.
Even though Secrets wasn’t able to perform, I think the audience left satisfied. I know I did.
Just Watch Me Now
Friday, Jan 22: Baewatch • EDM
Cashmere Cat wins over Burque
As I settled into my cushioned corner and zipped up my jacket further in hopes of staying warm on a cold November night, Alxxs Garza started to play. The familiar green and purple lights of Stereo Bar illuminated the early patrons of the event. Alxxs played universally liked electro house, and had beautiful transitions as usual. The crowds in Stereo came and went as groups of friends passed through trying to get their last nicotine fix before retreating to El Rey to stay warm and listen to BK Beats and The 1960 Sci-Fi Era and eventually the headliner, Cashmere Cat.
Yielding to the cold, I retreated as well to the innards of El Rey and was greeted by the heavy beats and tender, uplifting chords that I associate with BK Beats’ live performances. The crowd in front of the stage was more condensed than the rest of the audience, but people were dancing all over. I went to the bar to get a beer, watching the social workings of the mass of fans from afar before diving in myself.
The venue slowly got more crowded as The 1960 Sci-Fi Era joined BK Beats on stage. The two work together seamlessly to create an intricate and energetic tropical/trap set. As more people joined the audience, more people started dancing. I figured I should make my way to the front of the crowd before it got too much for me. I followed the flow of the audience; ultimately arriving to the duo’s left. Not too long after that, their smooth and bubbly set was complete and the stage went dark.
After a few minutes of double checking that the tables were working, Cashmere Cat came onto the stage. The entire crowd applauded and cheered. He began his set with no introduction, as if he needed one, but it added to the atmosphere of humbleness that he radiated.
I’ve never seen so many people cat-themed; I think I’m going to call his fans Cutie Catz. I saw many cat-ear headbands, cat shirts, furry vests with hoods and rounded ears, and even a hooded Cheshire Cat onsie. The crowd reflected Cashmere’s lovable reserve. Distinctly different from most crowds I’ve dealt with at large venues, everyone was friendly and excited to share the experience.
I never thought I–not to mention a huge crowd of EDM and pop enthusiasts –could truly enjoy and get down to a playful vibraphone and harp synth drop. I suppose the springy beats and elastic vocals contribute; overall Cashmere’s style is gentle, which is truly an extension of him. While he may have not spoken to us, he was very active and engaging in other ways.
He was there to bring his followers joy, but not at the cost of his own. He was consistently more energetic than the crowd; when the crowd would recover after dancing to a particularly hard drop, he remained lively and bouncy. He only stopped dancing to focus on important transitions (which were flawless) and to throw kawaii peace signs at the audience.
Cashmere relied heavily on vocal samples, which makes sense, given that he’s worked with the music of some notable artists like Lana Del Rey and 2 Chainz (as remixes/edits), Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West and was a featured producer of Ariana Grande’s album My Everything. Unlike many DJs I’ve seen, Cashmere was able to truly weave the vocals through the music as transitions or as an instrument rather than for self-promotion or using them as a message to the youths in the crowd to get turnt. As a person, I found him adorable, and as a musician, I found him exceedingly excellent.
Cashmere created an environment of pure, innocent, romantic joy in his electronic dreamscape. His performance is the top tier of electronic shows. The entire crowd enjoyed the active and energetic set by Cashmere; I can only hope he enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed him.
Are You Epic-Curious?
Thursday, Nov 12: Epic and Friends Part 5 • dance, electronic
Twilight of the Decapod Crustaceans
Friday, Oct 30: Shrimp Night • Reighnbeau • Alexxs Garza • BK Beats • 1960 Sci-Fi Era
An Interview with Dwight Loop, Pt. II
An Interview with Dwight Loop, Pt. I
Stargazing in Autumn
Transcend space and time at four cosmic concerts
Will The Julie Ruin you for all others?
Kathleen Hanna drops Ruin release deets
Who the hell is Kathleen Hanna ... other than a feminist punk poet with an affinity for zine writing workmanship? Who is this woman who dwells in the netherworld of alternative culture, plotting and demonstrating? Who is this transformative post-whatever icon who keeps pushing the waistband on the pants of pop-rock aesthetics to fit her angry, rabble-rousing agendas? Well, she's just a writer. At least that's how I've pegged her since I first started listening to Bikini Kill and Le Tigre during my formative years as a gay outcast in high school. Granted, her music scorched the silly side of a grounded movement at times. I never took her stances too seriously—at least not as seriously as those who deem themselves riot grrrls—but I always appreciated her mediums. On hearing that she’s resurrected the Julie Ruin moniker to release new material, I was psyched, and I still am.
Putting the word “The” in front of the name—thus making it The Julie Ruin, y'all—Hanna has resurrected not only a name, but an idea and a good one at that. If you haven't heard her post-Bikini Kill bedroom recordings, you should take a listen. They're not groundbreaking, but they were a solid precursor to the “Deceptacon”-era Hanna who would make her mark on the music industry. Maybe she wasn't a chart-topper, but she maintains a loyal fanbase that is keen on hearing her wild vocals inundate them with a little radical mystique—Feminist Sweepstakes, anyone? I digress … Hanna has announced that The Julie Ruin's debut album, titled Run Fast, is set to hit the streets on the 3rd of September (you know ... the day we’ll always remember). So be on the lookout for that, and while you're waiting for that illustrious morn to approach, you still have the old basement recordings of the original incarnation to tide you over. And if Le Tigre's This Island and The Julie Ruin’s first single, “Oh Come On,” are anything to go by, then you know Hanna delivers the goods when she has the proper studio treatment to rely on. Just sayin'.
Sonic reductions of Scott Walker, Crystal Castles and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra
In this week’s Sonic Reducer, I weighed in on new albums by Scott Walker, Crystal Castles and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. Check out videos and sound from featured acts below.
Scott Walker Bish Bosch · Crystal Castles III · The Bryan Ferry Orchestra The Jazz Age
Best of 2010 mix for ears to hear
The better to see you with, my dear
Of course you know the old dancing-
Year in Review: Music
Drones, Dub, Kraut, Harp
Best releases of 2010 for weirdos and malcontents
Mad genius Whitman arms his modular synths with razor-sharp spurs and lets them fight each other to the death. Result: a tapestry of colliding sine waves beautiful in their autonomous complexity. This originally-cassette-only objet d’art is now available via iTunes.