With most or all in-person live music performances seemingly postponed indefinitely, jump in the time machine with the Scene Point Blank premiere of a video capturing a live show from the (legendary?) Che Cafe on the campus of the University of California San Diego, July 7th, 2006 featuring Joey Karam from The Locust and David Scott Stone, who has recorded and toured with the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The Melvins, Jello Biafra, Merzbow, Masonna, and an impressive array of other artists.
Viewing the footage, I'm reminded of experimental music shows I attended around the same point in time at the Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia. Attendees never quite knew what to expect at these performances or, honestly, if the kind of ramshackle venue itself would survive the sonic assault provided by artists ranging from Comets on Fire to Jackie-O Motherfucker to the tinnitus-inducing Whitehouse.
Recording Karam and Stone's all-instrumental, synthesizer-based showcase was videographer Aaron Thornhill (Fairly Loud Noises on YouTube) who provided the following commentary about the show:
For decades the Che Café has been a magnet for outsider pop and earth-scorching punk, playing host to diverse shows as awesomely weird as they are high voltage. This particularly sweaty evening in July that I headed up to see Some Girls deliver their furious take on noise-fueled hardcore proved to be no exception.
I arrived early to see the stage completely covered in synthesizers, and not just the kind with piano keys. To my excitement there was a wall of old school modular gear as well, patched together with cables like a phone operator switchboard. Eventually, Joey Karam and David Scott Stone emerged wordlessly from somewhere offstage and approached the synth fortress. At a volume level that did not permit any sort of counter-arguments from the growing audience, they set about manipulating the controls of their city of circuitry. Drones soared, rhythms pulsed, robots spoke in tongues, and there was no choice but to be sucked into the new world that was being born before my very ears! Following a crescendo of chaos invoked by Stone attacking a piece of sheet metal that was wired into the machinery, they concluded as quickly and methodically as they had begun, leaving the stunned audience to wonder what had just happened and what more was in store.
Of course, there was no way from seeing Karam and Stone’s performance to have predicted the next act- Harry Merry. The wall of gear was replaced by a single keyboard and a guy with a Dutch accent wearing a sailor suit. Whereas the preceding synth assault had seemed to arrive like an alien invasion, a number of attendees seemed to already know who this man was and what we were in for and they were not hiding their giddiness in the slightest. He queued up a drum machine and began to play these kind of goofy, carnival-esque songs that seemed to be aimed at children, one after the other. It was a delight, but kinda in that wtf is going on here, this dude is trollin’, way. That being said, Mr. Merry definitely had his act together, his herky-jerky songs were perfectly executed, and he owned what he did. Well over a decade later “Sharki Supermachine” still pops into my head at hilariously inopportune moments like anytime I’m trying to do anything remotely adult. Imagine trying to have a serious talk with your significant other but you start smirking a bit in the middle because “Shaaaaaar-keeeeeeeee” is playing in your mental jukebox at the same volume it was at this show. Game over, Harry Merry wins. Flawless victory. Fatality.
In keeping with the theme of joyous tonal whiplash, following Harry Merry were the never not off the rails Some Girls. Their set of music from their recently released “Heavens Pregnant Teens” album was preceded by an eerie near-silence, where you could only hear the hiss of the cranked amps yet to be played through as they non-verbally made sure everything was good to go. There was a lone snare crack, followed by about 20 minutes of what sounded like Godzilla coming through the roof of the Che. The drummer conducted the mayhem from behind the kit with all the mercy of a runaway jackhammer as some members of the crowd were compelled to abandon the typical moshing, resorting instead to swinging around from the rafters. This was a fantastic show to see Some Girls, possibly at their peak, as they disbanded only a few months later to pursue other projects: Wes Eisold with the synth-laden Cold Cave, Chuck Rowell with the more pop-infused Crocodiles, JP and Nathan with the abrasive, dance-noise All Leather, and Sal with his long-lived duo Secret Fun Club.
Concluding the evening and providing some very cool cool-down from Some Girls’ aural brimstone were Quintron and Miss Pussycat, who began their set of grooving organ, drum machine and maracas sing-alongs with… a puppet show. Soon enough they started in with the musical part of their set and the whole club fell under the spell of their rhythmic, somewhat campy, B-52s via David Lynch spell. This was especially fun for me as my roommate at the time had been wearing the grooves out of her copy of their “Are You Ready for an Organ Solo?” LP for months. I was thrilled to finally hear them live and they, and all the other acts that night, delivered the goods.
The beginning is footage from around the Che and during the sound check and the actual set begins at 18:55.
While we wait for the time when we can get back to attending live music performances, dig the synth madness in this rare and pretty unique video document below.
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