There's new booking blood at Spacebar that may mean an infusion of live music into the Milk District. Although Happy Camper Booking has been one of the promoters putting on shows at Spacebar for a while, its principal, Dave Hanson, has recently been put in charge of the venue's calendar. What's more, the bar is making more dates available for bands. Besides its usual musical offerings, Spacebar is looking to open up for live music on Mondays and Sundays, nights it's usually closed. Got ideas? Hit up dave@happycamper booking.com.
In fact, Happy Camper's recent showcase (March 31) yielded a nice local discovery in Boxing at the Zoo. Even though the group's sweet melodies are sturdy enough to stand on their own, this is an indie-pop band that's smart enough to shoot higher with some nice instrumental detail. But their greater virtue is a balance that perks the brain enough to be interesting yet upholds enough breeze and crispness to never get mired in fuss. The result is pleasingly dynamic guitar pop that sails above the fray.
Unless you're a freak like our new music editor, noise music isn't one of those everyday things. But that might change if more acts were like what I saw at the MultipleTap Tour (April 1, Will's Pub). Of course, the loaded Japanese noise parade was already a historic happening just by virtue of the fact that it's the U.S. debut for most of its credentialed lineup. But MultipleTap's more significant mark is that it represented the genre with such exceptional quality and cogency, more than I've ever personally seen on one stage.
Perhaps it has something to do with the Japanese being some of the most eminent experimentalists in the art world, but this showcase consistently revealed a more refined and sophisticated conception of noise than we're used to seeing stateside. Next to the state-of-the-art MultipleTap performances, most of the domestic artists I've seen at the pre-INC shows here seem more like basic punk acts.
Probably the night's most focused performance was the audiovisual set of Yousuke Fuyama. His sounds were as elegant as they were assaultive, exploring both the nuance and intensity of static. But his visual genius – powerfully evocative and in total synthesis with the sounds – stole the show. Although rendered only in austere black and white lines, the sharp graphic sense and gorgeously intelligent movement of his visuals are so commanding that the aggregate triggering effect feels like it's changing your biology on the spot. This is the distilled pinnacle of noise, where artistry is immediately self-evident rather than debatable and arcane. While his peers rage from the garage, Fuyama is doing next-level, museum-caliber work.
The headlining spectacle collided seminal Japanoise band Hijokaidan, actual musical light saber-wielding artist Atsuhiro Ito and joystick gunner Jeff Carey in a full-tilt noise jam session. Think about that for a second. Sonically, it was an almost unintelligible onslaught that could probably clear a room faster than tear gas if the room weren't already filled with noise heads. Visually, between Carey's seizure-riffic light array and Ito's fluorescent-tube "Optron," it's a wonder that an ambulance wasn't called. Like any all-star game, it was more fireworks and fan fantasy than a transformative gestalt, but it was fucking insane.
One of the more interesting and quieter sets was the audiovisual one by video glitch artist ucnv and ambient interference soundscaper Makoto Oshiro. Their quilt of gentle feedback, alien clicks, wind sounds and screwed visuals was more tension than action. And the experience was like sitting inside a bunker wondering if the twister raging outside will just keep scrambling your internet while you're trying to watch cute dog videos or if it will eventually tear open the walls.
The MultipleTap Tour is an otherworld-class cavalry of artists pushing damage and waste to the avant-garde. They're geographically from the opposite side of the globe, but artistically and conceptually they're much further out than that. That they manage to bridge the distance this poignantly is testament to their communicative power. When all's played and seen, this will stand as one of the most memorable shows this year.