What do you call a night of absolutely FUBAR noise, improv musical comedy, a cult recruitment/job seminar, the death of the dunkwave genre, and an experimental Pentecostal church service complete with demented exorcism and cross-dressing?
A normal Tuesday night at Trunk Space, of course.
Last night wasn't really a concert, wasn't really performance art, wasn't really stand up comedy. It was somewhere in between the three.
As one would expect, the house wasn't packed, but those who made the effort to check out the proceedings were rewarded with some genuine weirdness.
Dangerville, featuring New Times contributor and prolific Tweeter Jose Gonzales (@jose602) and pianist/vocalist Michelle Edward, improvised a set based on suggestions from the audience, performing a mini-musical about a mother and son arguing about the boy attending a Gwar concert.
The premise got stranger from there, and involved two fishermen, a guitar-shredding three-eyed fish called Gwallagher (a combination of Gallagher and Gwar, naturally), all belted out with faux-grandiose musical style. It was funny, even when it didn't make sense and elements got mixed up -- a 15-year jump into the future was immediately followed by a jump 12 years back -- but was very enjoyable.
Christian Filardo has performed as Vladee Divacc until last night, when he debuted his new project, Good Amount. Filardo "pioneered" the dunkwave genre, a relatively straight forward combination of basketball samples and frazzled noise-scapes, which earned him blog love and Internet buzz.
"I am starting a label (Holy Page Records), and I didn't want to be known as 'that dunkwave' guy," Filardo told me before the show. His new project doesn't want for a clever novelty, though. Good Amount focuses on the concept of Halloween, including a push by Filardo to make Halloween the "official holiday of the Internet."
The resulting sounds were certainly in keeping with the scary trappings of the holiday: eerie out-of-tune piano samples, blasts of aggressive distortion, and pitch-shifted vocals, all delivered at ungodly loud volumes. I felt a little whimpy plugging my ears, but I wasn't alone in doing so.
Cult of the Yellow Sign started off like some sort of drone-metal ceremony, with performers Kevin Flanagan and Ash Naftule dressed the part, draped in black robes and spikes. The two carried blinking Halloween pens (another nod to October, which the unseasonal weather actually played to), chanting and banging on a bass drum.
Then the two broke into something entirely unexpected, handing out brochures and launching into a bonafide sales pitch about joining the Clthulu-obsessed Cult of the Yellow Sign, promising that when the ancient gods arrive to destroy the universe, Cultists will be treated to the least humiliating deaths ("first bodies on the pile") in addition to benefits like "life insurance," "unlife insurance," "prophet sharing," and "parasitic internships."
The duo even summoned one of the ancient gods (in the form of a sock puppet) from the depths, who was enraged at the crowd's laughter. They left a stack of brochures at the Trunk Space, so if you find yourself in the area, pick one up. It's almost as funny as the live set.
Texas act Overo's experimental church service opened with a masked preacher rhapsodizing about "driving in his pickup truck," spoken with the mocking tone of a southern preacher. He was joined by a whirling, masked woman, who collected miniature dollars the group had passed out before taking the stage.
They pulled the final member of the band from the crowd, exorcising him before the masked woman got to work stripping the preacher down to a woman's slip.
From that point, the group's performance became a pretty standard noise experiment, with the three members fiddling with pedals and keyboards. The rest of the set lacked the dramatic flair of the group's start -- it was pleasant, but without the visceral, arresting quality the band excelled at.
The band has scarce web presence, and in an age when practically everyone has a Tumblr, a Twitter, a Facebook page, or whatever cool thing I'm missing out on, it was refreshing to experience a night of performance that couldn't be easily marketed, one that was freaky and truly funny.
Like I said, just another Tuesday night on Grand Avenue.
Last Night: Overo, Good Amount, Dangerville, & Cult of the Yellow Sign at Trunk Space
Personal Bias: Martin Cizmar and I were just talking about how much we dig those Filardo brothers a few weeks ago.
The Crowd: Scant. It's not like you would expect this hodgepodge to pack them in, but it was a shame that the Diddy cancellation didn't lead to a surge of people looking for a replacement show.
Random Notebook Dump: "Pentecostal ambient exorcism." Need I say more?