Going Underground

Astropop, kindness and the art of noise

In fact, it seems that Oakenfold's vinyl revolutions propose the kind of positivity for nightlife that America--and particularly Phoenix--is lacking. Behind the velvet curtains of Pompeii's V.I.P. area, he shares his ideas on a true culture club.

"To me, it's a demonstration of love and freedom for young people. It's a great time for everyone to unite and leave anger at home. With trance, the music that I play, the whole idea is feeling it."

Shane Savery, another kind supporter, shares these sentiments. "They [Europeans] are so far ahead in the club scene. For them, it has become a way of life, but in our society it's looked down upon because of drugs and other shortcomings of the youthful lifestyle. As a society, we need to arrive at a common conclusion: Is it the next step or is it the downfall of humanity? I believe it is the former--open your mind."

Luckily, Oakenfold himself offers the most positive take on the situation. With absolute and stunning honesty he says, "Out of all the cities in the nation, I chose Phoenix to host the benefit. I played here a short time ago, and I got the best vibe here. Everyone was open-minded. I was really surprised that so many people knew me."

In the burgeoning underground art scene, a project known as bumpergoat is making quite a bit of noise--literally. The duo, Casey McKee and Robin Vining, is a team of artists that chooses to make its music with various odds and ends.

Thus far, the equipment list includes: a three-string cello, an accordion, a small xylophone, various drums, an electric and acoustic guitar, a bass and an amp.

What makes it really interesting is the collection of other "instruments": cooking bowl, propane tank, roof turbine fan, customer service bell, small boom box with tape of "samples," toy Chinese harp, inverted mountain bike and one of those circular pull-string, "the-cow-says-moo" toys.

On May 9, bumpergoat performed for the second time at downtown art space Modified. The performance--part well-mannered confrontation, part subtle accompaniment--showed McKee and Vining's talents for spontaneous creativity and random creation of sounds.

Anyone attending a bumpergoat performance with preconceived notions about music, structure or theory may miss the point. That it's not for everyone is its greatest attribute. It's the art of noise. Bumpergoat does not exist merely to be abstract, but its art conveys and requires free thinking.

McKee's story on how bumpergoat came into being may illustrate: "We took a vacation to Globe, where my grandpa raises animals. As we laughed at the goats, one of them came up to us and said, 'I don't know why you're laughing. There's a reason I brought you here. Take this bowl we've been eating out of, and find other misfit instruments. Spread the word of the bumpergoat.'"

McKee, who insists that the goat actually came to a performance--in disguise, of course--is a drummer, while Vining plays guitar. But, such traditional musicianship was pre-bumpergoat, and now they find more of a release in playing with the other objects. They're a bit like those kids who prefer to play with a toy's packaging than the toy itself.

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