The surviving fetus of Fall Line Fest, AKA Extragavanza 2015 (we’re still not 100% on how that’s pronounced) happened last weekend and it showed RVA can handle a multi-venue show despite limited time
The surviving fetus of Fall Line Fest, AKA Extragavanza 2015 (we’re still not 100% on how that’s pronounced) happened last weekend and it showed RVA can handle a multi-venue show despite limited time to promote.
While our review of the first part of the night, held at the Broadberry, is coming in a bit later this week, I wanted to let you all in on one of the darker shows Strange Matter has ever held.
Sadly, with multi-venue-fests comes the possibility for missed shows. Such was the case when I stayed for the end of DIIV and missed all of local noise group Daggering’s set. I wanted to give these guys a shout out either way.
As you’ll see before the end of this write up, I love noise music, and I was bummed I missed out – you can check out one of their releases here via Chaotic Noise Productions – and let it be known I owe them a review.
So as DIIV’s set ended, I hauled ass on my bike down to Smatter and walked in to catch the last few minutes of Mutwawa’s set.
Mutwawa (top image), consisting of Jason Hodges (Suppression, Brown Piss, Bermuda Triangles) and Gary Stevens (Head Molt, Rotted Ear, Dromopod), is easily one of my favorite RVA bands. While they fall easily into the ‘noise music’ genre, their beats are more structured and tones more controlled, better lending themselves to a dance band rather than a full on experimental noise.
What does that actually mean? I could listen to Mutwawa for probably an hour if not all night as some sort of dj set, where as some of the other, more traditional noise acts can really start to wear on your psyche after 10 minutes (I mean that in a good way?).
Which brings us to the next set in the show and the first touring act to take the Extragavanza stage that night: Author & Punisher.
To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve seen a real industrial act before, especially one so committed to the genre’s aesthetic.
Author & Punisher AKA Tristan Shone (lets call him A&P for the rest of this review) was brutal, terrifying, and fascinating to watch.
His rig resembled more of a mecha suit than a musical performer and his sound was equally mechanical. Harsh buzzes, pounding drum thumps, and robotic distorted vocals (via a well positioned mask) filled the Smatter space as a black and white haze of flashing lights washed over the stage.
Shone is a mechanical engineer by trade and it shows – between the hand activated drum mechanisms and the massive steel/iron cylinder he spun (for whatever reason), there was obviously a lot of science and math going on during his show. I’m not sure how any of it works, but holy hell did it pay off.
The high energy set left the crowd equally bewildered and impressed.
RVA Mag contributor Doug Nunnally actually interviewed Shone, check out that interview here.
To close out the night at Smatter was the legendary noise collective Wolf Eyes. I’ve been aware of these guys since I slapped my first contact mic on a circuit bent Barbie doll about eight years ago. They’ve long been trail blazers in the experimental noise scene, mixing ambient haunts with intense/terrifying soundscapes, and are generally considered leaders and genre definers.
Sadly, and with a heavy heart, I must say their 35 min opening jam was kind of a let down after the wall-o-sound produced by A&P. While I wouldn’t call Wolf Eyes’ set disappointing, there’s a reason most noise shows have 10 bands over the course of a normal 3-4 band set time. It’s hard to keep someone interested in discordant noise for 10 minutes; now do that times three in a row and you’ve got a problem/Wolf Eyes opening set.
Things might have been different if A&P hadn’t set us all up for a banger, and the weirdness on stage was enough to please my inner-noise fan, but I kept waiting and waiting… and waiting… for the set to pick up.
When their first jam ended (Again, 35 mins into their set) band founder Nate Young admitted “well that was a slow set… you want something fast or more slow?” I shouted “FAST!,” but by that point my excitement had worn off, and their follow up songs were just a mess of sound and less something for me to get lost in.
My show-partner, Graham, had high praises for Wolf Eyes’ set, however, saying he “totally spaced out” for the duration, despite the tempo, enjoying the hell out of it entirely. And Wolf Eyes’ set up was true-to-form wacky with four different wind instruments including a y-shaped recorder (seen below) of sorts.
Adding to their defense, part of the noise-scene mantra is kind of a “fuck you” to the listener anyway, so maybe its all on me for thinking too much into it.
Maybe its my perverted critics-sense, but I had expectations and was bummed when they weren’t met. Fuck me, right?
The night wrapped up and I headed back, a few whiskeys-deep and my ears still ringing. There was a lot to love throughout Extragavanza 2015 and kudos to the folks who put it together, but maybe next year try and keep the energy levels up for your legendary headliners.