A music scene is often thought to be a solid
thing: the same people in the same clubs seeing the same musicians
day after day, week after week, year after year. And yet, if
you really are part of a scene, you will notice the people fade
in and out of existence. You might see the really pale, red-haired
girl at every show for a month, and then not see her again for
a month or so. So where do these people go? What else do they
do with their lives?
Maybe, just maybe, they get into electronica and leave the
Indie Rock World. At least, that is my new theory after going
to the Lifeform.Project Night at The Echo. I saw all sorts of
people who i had thought moved away from Atlanta: ex-Indie Rockers
and Scenesters, here gathered to talk and drink and listen the
beat beat beat of the laptops. Who knew?
So there is this whole other "scene" in Atlanta -- the underground
electronic scene. And this was my introduction to it i suppose.
Before i describe the music i heard, i have a few "meta" comments
on the whole thing.
Firstly: i never had any idea who was performing. According
to The Echo, the following artists were performing: Anomaly,
Knamiproko, Inceptdate (featuring DJ Masevo) and DJ Nemo. I
saw 5 separate acts perform, and i know that the last artist
i saw was Inceptdate featuring DJ Masevo. (And i only know this
because Inceptdate is the project of a guy who i used to work
with, as a wage slave in an office. He's a graphic artist by
day, underground electro-rocker by night.) That, together with
the fact that i left shortly before 1 leaves me questioning
who the heck i saw. Which is frustrating to me: if i see any
of these names listed at a show again, how will i know if i
liked the artist enough to head back to hear them again?
I know that in electronica it's not about the performer: and
yet, the DJ still controls the music, and i am still there to
listen. I suppose it is a bit too much to ask them to introduce
themselves to the crowd, but maybe they could wear nametags....
Actually, what would be great is if the club used placards to
tell you who was on stage at any given time. I am thinking of
something like the old signs that used to be on stage during
vaudeville shows. (Not that i know vaudeville per se, but rather,
this is what they would do in old Warner Brothers cartoons featuring
vaudeville.) Anyway, i think that would really help. Something
needs to be done to tell me, the schmoe in the audience, who
is making the music at any given time. I suppose that i could
have asked somebody. But it just never occurred to me. I mean,
rockers tend to make a point of letting you know who they are.
These people, on the other hand, played, then left, without
Which brings me to my second comment: the whole thing seemed
voyeuristic. The artists were in their own little worlds, spining
records and listening to headphones or fiddling with a laptop.
Considering that they almost never make eye contact with the
crowd, i felt like i was watching somebody just play around
with music gear, unaware i was in the room. It was kinda creepy,
Which is why everyone else came there with a group of folks,
and these people stood around talking in small clusters. None
of the other Minions would have put up with this, so that option
wasn't there for me. At any rate, i found it somewhat strange
that, for long periods of time, no one would be watching the
performer. Strange. I mean, weren't the various DJs the whole
reason that people were there?
Well, all of that confused me. But the music -- on the whole
i liked it. As i said before, i got to see 5 separate artists
perform. Since i have no idea who they were, i will just describe
them in the order they took the stage(s).
Starting out in the main room of The Echo, there were 2 guys
setting up gear. One of them left, and the other started to
play some vaguely hip-hopy, kinda glitchy stuff. It was decent,
but people in the crowd really seemed to be getting into it.
Specifically, there were these 2 girls with hula hoops who were
dancing and hula hooping away. I had never realized before how
scary it is to have a whizzing tube of plastic come within 3
inches of the beer glass i was taking a sip out of! A few inches
the wrong way that that plastic would have knocked thick glass
into my teeth! Needless to say, i moved back in the crowd some,
to give the girls some room.
Anyway, this DJ's stuff was nice enough, but there was a sameness
to it that wore on me after a while. So i went to the back lounge,
to see what was going on there. In the far corner of the back
lounge there was a small table with 3 powerbooks set up. One
"computer nerd" type guy was busy at work at one of them (playing
solitaire i bet) while it cranked out some mellow ambient music.
Me and my non-spilled beer found a seat away from hula girls
and just sat and listened. It was very pleasant ambient, not
the best i have heard, but pretty good. However, well, i normally
listen to that kind of stuff while writing or reading. And usually
there is a cat on my lap. I found that i missed these things
from my normal "ambient music experience", and that the difference
of being in a public place did not compensate. What i am saying
here is that i would rather have been listening to this stuff
at home. But oh well....
After a bit the DJ swapped out with another powerbook user.
This new DJ created some nice, head-bopping electronica in the
vien of Boards of Canada or Miles Tilmann or Casino vs. Japan.
It was all lush keyboard loops and funky beats. I found this
to be very enjoyable, and was getting into the groove of the
tunes when suddenly applause occurred in the main room.
Applause at an IDM show? That never happens! So i went out
front to see what the fuss was.
It turns out that the applause signalled a change in the DJ
out front. The other guy who had been setting up gear at the
beginning of the show took over. On the whole, well, i thought
his music was very similar to the first artist in the front
room: glitch with hip-hop beats. However, it had gotten a little
more crowded at this point, and people were gettting into the
music. I stood and listened for a while, then decided i would
be better off with the stuff in the back room.
After a while there was more applause, and then a noticeable
silence out front. It was about midnight at this point. I wandered
back to the now crowded main room in time to see Inceptdate
and DJ Masevo setting up. There was a ton of gear to be wired
in, and Inceptdate also had a guitar.
They were ready kind of quickly considering the amount of stuff
they had, and they starting playing without any fuss or word
to the crowd. Basically, DJ Masevo spun records and laid down
a beat, while Inceptdate played guitar and keyboards into a
sampler. This was about the first 5 to 10 minutes of their performance.
Then Inceptdate spent the rest of the show playing with the
gear to manipulate the sounds he just put into the sampler.
In all honesty, i have never seen anything like that before.
Musically, DJ Masevo's beats were very hip-hop, while Incpetdate's
guitar and keyboards were kind of shoegazer/indie rock. It made
for a really neat mixture, and i enjoyed it.
But at 1 AM on a work night, this Minion turns into a pumpkin.
So about 1 hour into the set, i headed for home. I wonder if
anyone else was playing afterwards?
So on the whole, a pretty decent night.