Combine the percussive pounding of a marching band’s rhythm section with a sub-section of Taiko drummers who are building a set of beats for an array of programmers, synth musicians, a badass bass player, an elusive guitarist, dancers and steampunk costumes that ground this performance in a postmodern universe much like our own, but brighter, louder and more sensual than being shocked by 20 gigavolts of the purest electricity available on planet Earth and you’ve got a thing called Itchy-O.
Itchy-O is from el Norte, from Denver, Colo.
Up there in the Rocky Mountains, Itchy-O has gained quite a following of gamboling, EDM-eating youth and millennials, all hip to the sound and ready to get down to something that has so much sensory overload buried inside that it engenders random nakedness in young folks while sending older listeners straight to a hell where Moby is presiding but nobody is dancing.
To find out more about this musical phenomenon—coming our way, don’t ya know—I struck up a conversation with one of the members of Itchy-O. There are 57 of them in case you want to know and this unit’s name, like all the others involved, is Itchy-O.
Weekly Alibi: So, what the heck is Itchy-O?
Itchy-O: It's tough to describe. Most come away saying "You just have to see it for yourself." Ultimately our mission is to deliver a spiritual experience and we do it with a driving drum corps battery, Taiko drummers, an arsenal of electronics; synthesizers, theremin, vocoders, and other custom-made sonic devices and that's just half of the group. We engulf audiences with slews of other performers and take over venues like a big organized crime scene. It's like a big traveling temple dedicated to wrecking your mind. We are dedicated to disrupting the current concert model by dissolving the rift between performers and spectators. The result is attendees become part of our hive themselves, forever changed, carrying the energy with them out into their everyday lives.
Who is involved in this project called Itchy-O?
The group remains, by and large, nameless and faceless. We credit members in published works but beyond that, we prefer to keep our names out of the media.
Tell our readers about your drum corps and rhythm section.
There is a lot of esoteric inspiration behind this project and we aim to deliver something very primal and visceral. The easiest way to do this is to take people back to a time where we practiced sympathetic magic, shook bones, channeled spirits and danced around a fire to pounding of drum skins. And while we do this, we also propel attendees into a mind boggling world of advanced alien technology.
What instruments does Itchy-O make use of?
Synthesizers, guitar, theremin, vocoders, electronic wind instruments, lots of software and other custom-made sonic devices.
Itchy-O is an avant garde musical collective. Discuss.
We prefer to let our attendees do the discussing. Among the interpretations has been "dark on the outside, but blooming with light on the inside," "collective healing through dance," "this is church," and "holy shit, what was that?"
Do concertgoers take their clothes off during your performances to dance or otherwise "groove"?
We can neither confirm or deny spontaneous nudity happening but we see a lot more people creating their own costumes and flaunting their own regalia alongside of us.
Influences and current artistic concerns?
We are deeply influenced by Alejandro Jodorowsky's visual vocabulary and shamanistic psycho-magic, and we often refer to archeology of Sir James G. Frazier and The Golden Bough for inspiration. Musical influences include the Master Musicians of Joujouka, JG Thirwell, Talking Heads, Einstürzende Neubauten, Devo, The Residents, and the immersive performance styles of acts like Crash Worship, if anyone remember those cats from the ’90s.
Why should humans come and witness your work, live and onstage?
Societies today largely choose what to see, hear and believe. Our lives are carefully curated and programmed by ourselves and outside influences. Itchy-O challenges that hierarchy of choice and control by inserting its one-of-a-kind creative chaos. We invite our audiences to embrace mystery by passing between knowing and unknowing, self and other. Performances create temporary communities that surrender control as observers to become a part of manifesting a shared artistic experience. When or where else will they have the chance to receive an intergalactic transmission of sonic transcendence?