Sunday, August 28, 2016

Crooners, Movers and Provers – Let Them Eat Lo-Fi

08/26/16 @ The Chameleon

"There's a lot going on... We push back the coming dawn. In the gritty, shitty... Lining the dying streets are definite feats of heart and art–of grandiose moments that the truest true are quite pretty... Encompassed in raw beauty and smothered in the bosom of a Queen-in-Exiles' passion and loins is the sound of a Lo-Fi City."


Lil' Billy Catfish (L) with Broken Werewolf Weven Stalls (R) 
photo provided by Billy C.

There's a certain cruelty of life that you can't escape. No matter how fast you run, how deep you dig or how far you motorboat away from troubles, life finds you there. Cincinnati Punk-band DEAD FLOWERS said it best with song stating: life is a hard fucker. Yes, hard and quite a fucker indeed. Those early millennium words still ring true to this day, as perhaps they always will. It's funny how you spend an entire evening where you don’t drink a drop, or take any drugs... You even refrain from gorging yourself late-night bags of Ranch flavored Doritos with Diet A&W Root Beer, or sacks of White Castles... Ice water is your poison for an evening and still... You wake-up the morning after performing MC duties for the Release show for LO-FI CITYS 3rd helping of fruit salad full of greatness in the form of a compilation representing a mere fraction of this zones crooners, movers and provers... Every Queen’s reign needs a soundtrack and Lo-Fi City provides in kind. 

Still, life insist on manifesting itself as a hard, mean sadistic fucker that laughs cruelly in your face, kisses you on the cheek and buries a jagged dagger in your back at the same time. Everywhere you look: land-locked naval battles within a landscape of muddy rivers, mattress outlets and cell-phone stores, is a city elbow-deep in addiction death-tolls, pop-up thunderstorms and praise for the skills of fine-fine-fine wobbling fruit who may or may not be drunk, stoned or perhaps both or just really great fucking dancer! In what I can only describe in comparison as a tragic Shakespearean twist, I awake the following morning with a hangover!!! You know, a 'life hangover' resembling an old-fashioned traditional alcohol, White Castle hangover of the classic variety…. Life is a hard-fucker. Never forget that.

Self-explanatory photo provided by Lil' Billy C.
I find personal comfort in arriving early to functions and finding surprises and low-hanging fruit like Lil' Billy Catfish firmly in place waiting and dangling his finger from where a pecker would be poking out of his jeans if, in fact, he was that certain kind of fruit) accompanied by The Broken Werewolves, single-fisting golden whiskey standing in The Chameleons performance area smiling. That’s why its called Fruit Salad you know–Because ('as Nanny's Chris P. would soon find similar enlightenment) all the fruits (people) are mixed together in one container (the world). That’s why it’s called Fruit Salad.

Later, it would be brought to my attention by a friend-fruit concerning my liberal use of 'little' in referencing Lil’ Billy Catfish: "I think he dropped the 'Little' from his name a while ago,” the fellow fruit said. I responded with the confidence of a level akin to a successful retail fruit-department manager "Good for him, but to me he will always be "LIL' Billy Catfish!" 

Why you ask?? Why do you, the desperate Thwart reader ask this? Please note: If you are reading Thwart, you definitely fall into the desperate category. Desperate for something... Anything… If you care to acknowledge it or not… Your desperate (get use to it-its kiss or kill) there are lots of media-options for all kinds of different fruit salads out there. You got this deep into this Thwart-related piece of literature... You are obviously searching for something deeper, something with more meaning... You are searching for girth. Life, the hard-fucker, has brought you here to Thwart. You are a victim and hero at the same time. Relish this opportunity. Good for you. 

Being completely honest and rather artistic too, I must clarify, I found Lil' Billy at the Chameleon standing doing that dick-thing, drinking alone, in a vacant room, lit with LED lights (his observation-not mine) smiling. Conceptually though, Lil' Billy wasn't 'alone' he was accompanied by The Broken Werewolves, his broken Werewolves. Billy is much more than a musician, he is an 'ArtCon', a performer of music as a conceptual art form. Dare not ask, "Who are the Broken Werewolves Billy?" Because like it or not, YOU are a broken werewolf! You are there, with Billy, just trapped in human form. Billy sings songs with you, about you. Celebrating his highs and lows–your highs and lows–both in a cacophonous chorus of smiles, spirits and yellow-ledger warnings of the bourgeoisie declaring his one-man micro-nation aka 'Dressing Room.'

        Weven Stalls Sculpture/Question by Ryan Gelatin

Joined by fellow ArtCon Weven "Pussy Steve" Stalls wearing a fragrant Carnation in his hair, Lil' Billy Catfish and all of the present Broken Werewolves played a great set of folk ArtCon ballads calling the world out in all its hypocrite red-tape terror-fanatic mess. If the world is flat-out-fucked as Mudhoney solidly stated on their 1989 self-titled release, then Lil' Billy is a prover of that on a continual basis while Steven Walls erected a du moment living barrier of loose Chameleon tables and chairs following an Andy Kaufman inspired message to the room saying "Can I ask you a question?" Which was followed by all the rooms’ mixed-up fruits loudly screaming, "YES!" in answering…

Sleepy Drums
(L–R) JB, Michael H., Lo-Fi Jonnie 
photo provided by Rob S.
Wevens sculpture was the question that still remains unanswered and to this day Lil' Billy Catfish and Stalls maintain lifetime, individual bans from The Whispering Beard Music Festival.

Lo-Fi City 'house band' Sleepy Drums erupted next. Spreading their brand of Blister-Pop, a  
genre coined by Midwest punk pioneers The Embarrassment (circa Kansas 77-82), Sleepy Drums played as if they were a Jovian moon on a decaying orbit heading straight for Jupiter’s infamous anticyclonic great red spot–playing every song, every note how it should be played–like it was their last.

Sleepy Drums were joined mid-set by a host of '+ Friends' including Danny H. for a couple oldie but goodie jams by Jetson Maneuver which, according to post-show digging with Lo-Fi Jonnie himself, existed from 2001-2002 featuring 'Lo-Fi' on guitar/vox, Danny
Sleepy Drums with John H.
photo provided by Lo-Fi Jonnie
 Hall on guitar/vox with Andrew Wisenberger on bass and Steve Anderson on drums that lasted for roughly a year and eventually beget two other bands called Kindl and Shizer 9... More '+ Friends' action included the infamous Rob 'Roller-Coaster' S. for a hearty rendition of  "Dead Flowers" by Lo-Fi City 3 contributor Sack Lunch and yet more surprises in this late-night bowl of Fruit-Salad when Alessandro 'Midnight Dro' C. would step-forth into the ever rotating Sleepy Drums (and Friends) banner for a brief reunion of the late Dinosaurs and Thunder.

(L–R) Aaron W., Eric Eric, Midnight Dro, Chris P.
photo provided by Lo-Fi Jonnie
Adding Guitarist Aaron W. to their line-up, Nanny gloriously kept it weird. Falling somewhere in the hinterland in-between Eno, Neu!, and Roxy Music–the Chameleon crowd were once more pulled away from either the Chameleon patrons on the rear smokers deck ogling the boringly modern box architecture of whatever was built next door (conclusion: "They really got it all figured out") or the bars TV viewing of The Big Game to witness a set of ethereal, melancholy semi-analog/semi-digital danceable jams, not only capturing but adding to and furthering the pre-determined ArtCon aesthetics that salads like Nanny cultivate.

On multiple-faceted levels, Nanny proved it as a whole and ad individual fruits alike.

Rounding out the night was a brand-new band (well, to me they are new) that I purposely neglected to listen to provided Bandcamp clips called Fun Machine who I instantly look a liking to despite how great they'd end up sounding like. 

Fun Machine
(L-R) Brandon, Chad and Zach.
Photo courtesy of their Bandcamp site.
One of those reasons why is because early in the night, I already filled by 'new friend' quota. Ever since seeing my first punk-show (Fugazi in Dayton during June of 1991) I have taken it upon myself to break out of introverted roles where I would actually pray for invisibility and in this new scene (which I really wanted to enter with a fresh-start including a new name–Shawn Abnoxious) and wherever I was at–try and meet someone new. Instead of shying in corners, I committed myself to embracing the punk-scene. Now, more than 25 years later, it comes totally natural to introduce myself to new people and talk about something–anything. I had already met a videographer capturing vidz of all the bands named Jesse S. "Oh, you two already know each other?" inquired Jonnie Lo-Fi when he seen Jesse and I talking-up the antics of Weven Stalls earlier. "We know each other... Now!"

On the night of the 26th, as I was ogling the boringly modern box architecture of whatever was built next door to the Chameleon coming to the conclusion that the buildings architects really got it all figured out, the members of Fun Machine ambushed me! Knocking me off-guard by introducing themselves to me! The Horror! The Horror!!!*

In my 25+ years since my first show, there are people that I have met which (viewing in hindsight) that I would instantly connect and bond with on a variety of levels. People that would ultimately make me a better person for knowing. I think knowing the fruits in the fruit-salad that is Fun Machine makes me a better person!

By time they would settle in as the night clean-up position of an already stellar night of performances, things could only get better–which it did! Fun Machine played from a perch of confidence that very few bands exhibit. Fun Machine had a plan... A purpose... Like Dally, Fun Machine were jazzed up for the rumble** Whether or not there were meetings or pep-talks before hand, I am not certain of, but Fun Machine delivered-in-full. I didn't even see them play from a set-list! Their set was played as-if a calculated, well-timed Gulf-War 2 shock & awe cruise missile attack. Precision was a concept that Fun Machine wielded with optimum results.

2015 release by Fun Machine available from their Bandcamp page.
Cover a
rtwork by Robby Loudermilk.
Playing jerky, vocal-driven angular punk bringing to mind the aforementioned Embarrassment and playing with an intensity reminding me of WU LYF, The Rakes, Mountain Goats and even The Strokes at times (yeah, I still like the Strokes). I held onto every note the Fun Machine spat forth as they maintained a high interest level from me until their sets conclusion.

Then I left without goodbyes or farewells to anyone. It’s my thing. No harm needed but I appreciate a good quiet and sudden slipping-away myself and try my best to emulate that personal fondness myself. I traversed to the northern zones of Cincinnati homeward and as I promised earlier to a hippy named Brian M. who had apparently found his shoes sometime between then and now, I threw Wevens Carnation out the window as I hit Cincinnati's northern suburban zones hoping for the same results as when birds eat seeds, carry them elsewhere and deposit them via their droppings (shit) to spread fauna from place to place. I wanted to spread the ArtCon sentiments/infections of Weven Stalls northward to infect the new asphalt, Chopping Strip Mauls and manicured lawns of unsuspecting masses. The gesture was purely symbolic but I really strive for artistic thinking amongst my zones habitat Art Now! Art Often Or Else.

Actually, this writing that you have just read serves the ArtCon droppings and the ideas/concepts within are the seeds. Like it or not, you are infected. Good luck to you.

I travelled to my zone... Correction, my safe suburban zone... Really though, concepts such as safety is relative. Safe no longer really exist anywhere does it? Think about it... I made myself two thick peanut-butter sandwiches that I washed down with a new batch of Grape flavored fitness drink while I watched an episode of History Channels Ancient Aliens... Firm in my earlier statements and beliefs that we are all fruits in the greater bowl of fruit salad of life that is hard, mean fucker.


Video (aka "VIDZ") of the night by Jesse S.

Lo-Fi City

Lil' Billy Catfish & The Broken Werewolves

Sleepy Drums (+ Friends)


Fun Machine

* obligatory Colonel Kurtz/Apocalypse Now! reference.
** obligatory reference to S.E. Hintons The Outsiders.