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A New Noise in Party City: Lafayette's Spot Tavern and Doberman
Posted June 26, 2014 by Sonny Blood

 

Fans of strange music in Indiana have a new reason to rejoice, or at least act strange: The Spot Tavern in Lafayette is our newest (only?) self-described “weirdo music bar”.  The first time I wandered into the Spot I was lured by the sound of Throbbing Gristle and the promise of a cheap watery domestic, only to find Pier Palo Pasolini’s  art-filth masterpiece Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom projected above a pool table, and a patio patronized by half the local music scene.  Quintessentially divey, decorated with creepy art and junkstore artifacts, the Spot has what we call a sick vibe.  So I had to ask, “When are you guys gonna start doing shows up in here?”  Proprietor Paul Baldwin’s response was something like, “Eh, maybe we’ll knock down that wall behind pool table and do some shows.”

 

Several months later, the wall is gone and shows are booked. Sometimes knocking down the wall is all you have to do. The first show at the Spot went down on May 31st, and the sounds were focused on electronic weirdness.

 

In good style, two touring solo artists from Asheville, NC were added to the show last minute.  Starting out the night was Patrick Kukucka, who improvised exotic modalities on the accordion over a bed of oscillator drones.  His set segued neatly into that of his touring mate Tashi Dorji.  Probably the most exciting new pair-of-hands in the world of improvising guitar, Tashi’s style is something like a looper-age Derek Bailey, with landscapes of imagination emerging between the shards of skronk.

 

As the owner of venues the Black Sparrow and Foam City, Paul Baldwin has brought a lot of internationally renowned avant garde/improvised noisiness through Indiana, and hopefully the Spot will thrive as a hub for touring artists like Dorji and Kukucka.  Facilitating fringe music is important; it puts things in perspective for local musicians and inspires people to keep pushing things forward. The Lafayette scene is seeing the dividends of Paul’s investment in the weirdo-arts, and he deserves a gold medal and a big hug for his efforts in that struggle.

 

Next up was another solo performance, this time by Liv Mershon, a face on the Bloomington scene who’s settled into a good thing with her Bad Psychic project.  Liv just released an LP on Sygil Records, a Bloomington label known for homegrown occult heaviness.  The show was near the end of a two week tour, and her dark, synth-based mesmerism was in good form.  Tourmates Ray Creature shared a similar affinity for hooky songs and goth-y synthscapes, but their sound is less ethereal. The duo comes across as fully formed and impressive, reminiscent of OMD’s darker moments. A cover of the Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” inspired an otherwise navel-gazing crowd to move its feet, and proved that that song is the “Louie Louie” of darkwave.

 

BAD PSYCHIC : SWAY FOREVER from Chris Jacob on Vimeo.

 

Closing the night was the debut performance of Lafayette’s Rev Rev, a duo of TV Ghost frontman Tim Gick and Zech Baumhover (Doberman, Tigerfox, Charlie & the Skunks).  The name and format suggest the influence of Suicide, and there is plenty of that, but their sound is not retro at all.  It is awesomely and refreshingly its own thing – two young men expressing themselves with their gadgets.  Synthesized textures flow in waves over sequenced drum-throb; vocal melodies drift in and out; two rock’n’rollers-gone-electro stand facing each other at a table decked with blinking machines.  Anyone who’s seen TV Ghost knows Tim has one of the best profiles on the scene.  With his pomped-up curls casting a shadow on the wall behind the stage, Rev Rev looked good and sounded promising.

 

 

The shared esthetic of these Indiana bands was striking enough to make you think, “Damn there’s a scene going on here!”  As a local music fan, this is one of the greatest feelings.  If you’re looking for a quality document of the new Party City noise, check out label Castle Bravo.  Their first release, by local freaks Doberman, came out in April and is available on Bandcamp.  The band began as an experiment in “improvised punk”, but by the time of this recording they had evolved into a purely electronic form of fuckery reminiscent of Wolf Eyes.  (They even have a single forthcoming on Regression Records, run by Wolf Eyes’ Nate Young.)  For an improvising noise collective, the group has great pacing.  Always creeping, never meandering, the tape features two side-long excursions in slow-burn digital heaviness with lurking attitude. 

 

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