Glove's on too tight
The right side of my brow is still throbbing from the hit I took in the pit last night, and my hearing feels like it’s been suppressed by at least twenty decibels. Most of the acts from last night have passed through New Brunswick before, but Brooklyn’s “The Glove” seemed to foster a high energy environment incomparable to any Jersey basement. Every act was noise based, amplified by the mid heavy PA’s which boosted everyone’s sound with the fighting force of a high gain war drum. Even someone like Bubblegum Octopus, who’s hardcore inspired synth-pop only ever flirts with the sonic ferocity typical of harsh noise, played into the vicious output of their clipping set.
A few friends of mine who don’t really get out much decided to tag along with me. We entered through the side door of an unsuspecting Brooklyn warehouse. Through the doorway we climbed a narrow stairwell, walls stained with a collage of sharpie graffiti. An abrasive hiss grew louder as we reached the top of the stairs. Walking into a loose crowd of people, noise filled the venue’s head-space; it drowned your body and penetrated your ears, strangling your mind to either bob in its resonance or stand alienated. The audience was crossed between these modes. The wailing noise’s conductor was Channel 63, an individual who was poised over their laptop, ruminative in their selective yet arbitrary manipulation of the Ableton plugins being launched from their laptop. Huddled to the floor in total darkness with the rest of the audience weighed down by their air raid of electronic bog, their set thrives from casting listeners off into a primal space of raw emotion. With the only semblance of normalcy in their music seeping through the PA’s as samples of automated speech and lounge muzak, you become lost within the overwhelming persistence of their all-encompassing sound. Their set came to an end as they closed their laptop halfway and turned it away from the crowd, allowing the room to fall into total darkness; they began to shuffle through the crowd, head pointed to the ceiling, yelping and howling into the microphone like a tortured soul lashing out with no clear sense of purpose. The most performative aspect of their set, unfortunately, was humorously compromised as a photographer decided to be daring and document Channel 63 with their camera’s flash turned on. Visible for a moment, the rest of the audience, and myself, took this as clearance to disrupt the façade of their show; a game was made of capturing pictures of Channel 63, and with every burst of illumination it became obvious that they were having fun with it too, wearing a large smile with their eyes still shut.
Soon people got bored of toying with their phones, and once again veiled in darkness Channel 63 shut down their laptop; as their sampled chaos simmered to a stop, they sat down against the venue wall, blending in with the rest of us spectators. Their broadcast was terminated. Up next was another noise heavy artist named Food Corps. Short in stature and sporting a black beret, a typical Food Corps set sees the audience take a step or two back from the stage as the crazed solo show shrieks into a microphone that’s been routed through his audio interface; alternating between a control pad sashed over his shoulder and a fisher price sized guitar, Food Corps unleashed a fast and ferocious blend of electronic noise core and what boarders between punk styled riffs and metal inspired licks. Tonight however, the arrangements were left intentionally loose, as this crowd was especially into the fast rhythms and noise improvisations FC was ripping out. It was about five minutes into his set when the first mosh started, and to my surprise it lasted trough the entirety of his performance. Not once did Food Corps throw himself on the ground screaming, a spectacle that’s become a staple of his, since the whole floor was occupied by determined dancers.
Beaten by noise and punk moshers, the end of Food Corps’ set saw me and my friends in need of some fresh air. We took a walk outside and stumbled into a bar just a few blocks from the venue. Dim, candle lit, and serving nothing but craft beer, we took the time to relax over a drink and mellow out with the Gary Newman style synth wave playing in the background.
Upon re-entering the venue, we were hit with a shock-wave of perspiration that left us baffled. Walking further in had become an issue, in part because of how dense the crowd had gotten, but also because of my lack of vision from my fog-stricken glasses. The next act was already half way through; they were a goth/trance dance artist named DJ Impaler. Despite how muggy the air was; the energy of the crowd dominated the room as people violently bounced and thrashed to the overblown kick drum and mids bleeding from the PA system. The crowd’s moves were mindless and violent; most kept their eyes closed as their incessant stomping caused the floor tremor beneath us. DJ Impaler sat at a fold out table with all their gear sprawled out in front of them; they passively glance back and forth from their equipment to peer at the audience while keeping on an unassuming face. Despite how the intensity of their music launched everyone into a thoughtless catharsis, the moment the music stopped the room exploded into thoughtful applause.
Deli Girls went on next, but I opted out of seeing them to hang out on the venue’s roof; the access to fresh air and audible conversation was needed by this point in the night. After recharging for about an hour, I head back downstairs anticipating one of my favorite artists, Bubblegum Octopus. After hearing about him through a friend at the tender age of ten, Bubblegum Octopus’ sugar sweet blend of chiptune driven hardcore spaz-pop took hold of my impressionable mind, going on to make integral early impressions on my then non-existent music palette. I’m sure if not for him, I wouldn’t have been able to stand any of the acts this evening.
He’d been on tour with another solo electronic act called Watabou, but I had no idea that they were playing their sets in conjunction with one another. Both dressed in outfits accurate to their sonic personas, Bubblegum in a white cardigan and a school girl skirt and Watbou wearing tight Adidas branded athleisure, they surprisingly complemented each other both in aesthetic and performance. Each took turns playing the backing tracks to their songs, alternating between vocal delivery and live electronic improvisation. Unfortunately, most of the arrangements blared out of the PA system at a near unintelligible volume, but that didn’t stop everyone from trashing to the bashing noise of their tracks’ percussion.
Both performers gave it their all when it came to vocal duties, commanding their respective songs as they hopped around from the stage, to an adjacent platform, to the dance floor, and back to the stage. In terms of style, both come from a similar fast paced chip-tune/noise background, but the circumstance of the sound system really muddled everything, so they sounded more or less like every other harsh noise act from the evening. Bubblegum Octopus played the last song of the night, an ADHD pop tantrum named “Spazz-pop”; an anthem of sorts for their project. It was two in the morning at this point, so with everyone exhausted my friends and I headed out, ears ringing, and bodies beaten.