Gilgongo's 10-Year Anniversary Concert Was As Weird As The Label
There is no better venue for eclectic taste than Trunk Space, but Saturday night's 10 Years of Gilgongo Records show was extremely motley, even by their standards. This is all due to the refined, diverse tastes of James Fella, who runs the label out of his home. It's almost hard to believe that he's been releasing albums since he was 22, but around 80 vinyl releases later, Gilgongo Records continues to prove itself as one of the most unique staples of the Valley music sphere.
We came into the middle of James Fella's set, an eerie soundscape created by putting various records together at once, but I couldn't really tell what was going on. It was completely packed, which is highly unusual for an opener.
The rising scratches melted into a droning roar, like a low, electronic didgeridoo. It reminded me of Lustmord, or other dark, sinister ambient bands I listen to when I'm depressed and I loved it, but wish that it was more of a gallery setting than a music venue. Just standing there, staring into the back of someone's paisley shirt, was kind of boring, even while the music was exciting. I would rather have walked through a long hallway, staring at some kind of trippy art, while this squelching alien radar reared its head and attacked my ear lobes, which I mean in a good way.
Maniac Cop continued the drone for their first ever performance. It was supposed to be Mallevs, but Jen Deveroux couldn't attend, so Adam Lovelady and Joshua Rodriguez (who finish the trio) performed some new stuff they've been working on. They jumped into the nightmare-scape with precise progression, starting with throbbing waves of feedback, kicking in with dark drumbeats, elements of chiptune and industrial trails looping, knocking, waving.
A weird video played on a projector, but I couldn't see it from my angle. The applause after the short set (all of the sets were short) was instant. I heard several people behind me exclaim, "That was dope as fuck." I wholeheartedly agree.
Cherie Cherie took it down a notch, their first song hard to make out, but quickly picked up the pace again with their garage rock textures. It was droney on the exact opposite of the spectrum -- warm, sometimes cool, often cheerful, yet restrained. Overall, things were pretty muted, the drummer Ann playing with mallets rather than sticks, creating a more harmonic, angelic ambiance while their pedals took on a My Bloody Valentine vibe. Cherie Cherie ended their set by flirting with these pedals, creating static and ambient droning. It seemed like everyone on this bill was into the drone.
Well, not Stephen Steinbrink -- the closest to distortion he got was tuning his instrument, but that's OK. His fingerpicked guitar and self-described "balletic falsetto," seemed able to dilate time. Entranced, I almost didn't notice he'd played three songs already. Everyone was sitting down for this one, making it easier to see, and also sit back and inhale deeply. Stephen is to guitars what artisan is to cheese. These songs seemed written to put you into a particular time and place, and those places and times were nostalgic, gentile and soothing.
Sissy Spacek, on the other hand, was anything but. To get an idea of what Sissy sounds like, cut off your ear, put it in a blender, and then jackhammer the goop into the ground. I tried giving Spacek a chance, as the L.A. band is fronted by John Wiese, who's collaborated with Sunn O))), Wolf Eyes, Cattle Decapitation, among others. While I really like a lot of noise rock, metal, ambient droning, thrash and so on, this had literally zero appeal that I could discern.
The "songs" were short, around 45 seconds, it seemed. It sounded like construction equipment murdering puppies. I guess that's the point. Noise music in general serves a purpose -- to get you to feel a certain way, uncomfortable even, like a horror movie or a haunted house. But Sissy didn't seem to have a point -- it was just boring. It was rattling and generic and every track sounded identical. There is such a thing as "nuance," which apparently every other musician in this room had heard of except for Sissy. This was the Michael Bay garbage disposal of experimental music.
The room slowly emptied. It was so loud and obnoxious, earplugs did next to nothing and even the people in the parking lot, whom I shortly joined, couldn't seem to escape. Thankfully, it was all over soon.
So there you have it: drone music, proto-industrial music, garage rock music, acoustic folk music, and godawful fucking noise all in one night. Whoever chose this lineup did an excellent job of representing the epitome of eclecticism in vinyl today. The more Gilgongo continues to push the envelope and the more that Trunk Space provides the atmosphere to host it, the more that this fine city will make a name for itself as the weirdo capitol of the nation. Cheers to 10 years and here's to ten hundred more.
Last Night: James Fella, Manaic Cars, Cherie Cherie, Stephen Steinbrink, and Sissy Spacek at Trunk Space
The Crowd: Lots of black coats and bright pink hair and plaid and glasses.
Overheard: "It's like 1994 all over again!"
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