Monday, January 20, 2014


Good Area, Christian Mirande, Patrick Emm, Sophie Dickinson, The Greys
@Smokey Bear Cave, 1/18/2014

A crippling work schedule cooped me up for months, but now they let me get out on occasion to stumble bare-ass through the streets of my early 30s. Ok, I landed two weeks off; at least it wasn't on a dirty mattress under a light bulb, ya know?
Smokey Bear Cave throws a half-grip of shows a month in their otherwise-undisclosable Allston basement for equally small clusters of humans seekin' the gruff, the modular, the warbly, and other assortments of inexplicable clatter and gunge. And fuckin' bravo to that! And a handful did turn out that night, braving the winter's awkward waiting room, to see some locals and a few Philly folks making the New England rounds and playing wherever the beer is recently-chilled and the armrests disturbingly frayed.

The Greys opened, still wet from birth and presenting (like mandrills, though that's pre-mixing metaphors...) their Porpoises into the Fourth World Future of yeah you get it. Field recordings of winged blabbermouths (yeah yeah, it's dawn, we know cuz we're still awake and creepin' yo) cleaned their beaks on hushed hums and synth swells only to run headlong into a screwed copy of "Nothing Compares 2 U" before a few Mexican Summer moments and a timid end. Something to be said for a first-time set that runs under 20 minutes. And that something is promising, if still in admitted infancy. I'm sure I'll be seeing them again.

Christian Mirande, Good Area's touring partner, followed shortly and continuing the cassette moebius relay that enveloped the whole evening. Mirande seemed to have some technical problems midway which kinda skewed my impression of what he was up to. At work before and after were hefty reworkings of what sounded like a cardboard bailer (I heardtell a few of these Philly folks and I both work for the same grocery chain) in the throws of passion and humid, smothering drones that snaked about in lovely, oxygen-depleting ways. Worth a check out.

Good Area came on like Dutch sound poets in the throes of a serious fever and with faint whiff of their fellow Philly resident Code Money's sense of repetition but with taped recitations instead of the "Fresh" sample. Maybe I'm readin' too much into their mishegas. Great fun. The trumpet and shortwave, both aimed at the front row and loud enough to be heard over the PA with nary a bissel of assistance threw the whole set into a galactic sound space Anthony Braxton wished he thought of first. More folks should play the guitar like dude, too; but then again, it'd make it less special and we just can't have that. Welcome rock salt to chapped ears, no matter how dapper the delivery system.

Sophia Dickinson's set of tape recordings, harp and occasional vocals, were small enough to barely be heard in the hollow of a tea cup pressed to yer lobes, let alone whilst disinterested crusties exchanged brags of how much coke they could pack into the filter-end of a Parliament Light met the overhead creak of Converse on rotting stairs. Shame, too, as it warmed our scruffs like welcomin' window candlelight, it did! Forthcoming Feeding Tube release whispers?

Patrick Emm's studious set ended the evening, but thankfully brought a shit-ton hissy warmth and almost-breezy Roland synthwork. A thoughtful middle ground between socially-troubled New Age synth classics (i.e. JD Emmanuel) and Vanity Records tape decay.

Oops! Ran out of beer. Time to skedaddle back into the slush and hush of night. But I'll be back, I said, knowing only the Mass Pike were listenin'.