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Addicted to Bad Ideas: Punk-Metal-Rap-Ska Music Shows

April 14, 2009

Aries Indenbaum ’09

Time: Tuesday Morning

There are tiny, intense bruises on my knees and elbows. My hearing is still iffy.

I can still feel the crowd's moshing, dancing, and pushing, the way the ocean still moves you even after you've gotten out of the water. I can still see the crowd: folks making a space in the center of the dance floor to let couples kick-dance a demented carnival homba. When the Inferno changed the tempo, the circle exploded into a flying moshpit.

World Inferno Friendship Society. Bucketkickers.

This feeling is familiar.



Time: Sunday Morning (two days previously)

My ears hurt. My thighs hurt. I am super-duper happy.

Tonight: Music party at Harkness, with Andrew Gombas, Birthday Kids, and Dos Mil Días De Fuego. Before that, I saw Spring Back, a dance show, so it's been... a long night.


Spring Back!

The dance department here is growing, with more folks than ever enrolling in classes. We took in two new members of the faculty: Holly Handman-Lopez and Ashley Thorndike. Spring Back is part of the block of dance shows hitting around now - Sprung, Colors of Rhythm, Essence's Steppin' in da Beat, Oberlin Dance Company, and a lot of senior recitals. Warner, the main dance/theater building, is booked. If you dance, this is a good time for you.

The main focus of the dance department is modern, with contact improvisation, capoeria, bodywork, and ballet getting some love too. Half of the pieces in Spring Back were modern, the others hip-hop, folk or break. As I have the dance awareness of a child, I separate dances into:
- Emotive: You're communicating how you feel!
- Movement: You move amazingly! Your body is a work of art, a tool of creation!
There was a nice combination of both.

I must admit to a certain narrative inclination, which poses a problem in an unfiltered enjoyment of movement. Whereas in circus, I see tricks as, well, tricks... dance is an art form. It has meaning. So, to my plot-centric brain, it should have a narrative and relationships.

In the dance piece with three women, they were totally a mother with two daughters who had recently lost their elderly father in a tragic threshing accident. The daughters adjusted to the loss by throwing themselves with childish abandon into their farm tasks; while the mother dejectedly resumed normal functioning.

There were monks in brotherly love, a bride left at the altar, spirits of global warming wrapping their warlike arms around one another with apocalyptic glee...

Or, at least, that's what I saw.

I've had a few conversations with Kai about the difficulty of writing about dance. I can talk about how it made me feel, but not always so clearly about what occurred, without creating childish scenarios. The moves themselves were impressive: many of the performers wore kneepads, given the amount of times they flung themselves at the ground. All of the modern soloists controlled their bodies precisely. Their handstands landed slowly and gently - they cartwheeled over and around one another.

With the folk/hip-hop/break dances, I find there's more of a vocabulary, because I'm less caught up in a search for story-meaning. They picked the crowd up. The hip-hop group did an incredibly tight piece that looked straight out of a music video. SPARK rocked, showcasing their old heavies with their new blood. They popped, locked, and broke, making Warner into their space. I've seen them do more ridiculous stuff in the past, but this act was so seamless.

I ran to Harkness, ready for action.

Question: Why don't dance concerts end with the audience having a dance party with the cast? Does strike really have to happen the instant the show ends?

Harkness Concert

Harkness Basement is a place of great joy. Amazing bands have played there, amazing food eaten there. It's a cafeteria: there are chocolate milk stains that will never leave the ground. The tables were rolled away and the ground was mopped. On the wall, there were still the co-op food posters on the wall by the drum set:
"Pros and Cons of Soy" and "Report Ideas to the 'Fun Committee'!"


A black and white picture that appears to be from the mid-20th century of men in military uniform
Fun Committee of Harkness?

Andrew Gombas went first. You may remember him from Ma'ayan's post about Organs... He does music too! Acoustic and electric guitar and brilliant songwriting. Most of his songs are about some twisted, mangled love... like that time you went home with the prettiest girl and she was really into role-playing games. Like the role-playing game where she's the "dominant young woman" and you're the "stupidface who took her to your home, got stabbed 19 times and robbed blind." That was a good song. It was a singalong.

Professional photo of Andrew sitting amidst chairs meant for an audience looking toward the camera
I love this photo. Andrew looks like Mr. American Psycho.

Andrew:: "You may not know this, but I used to be an improv-style spoken word performer in the south side of Chicago. A rapper, one could say. So, I'll need two words from the audience to let me go..."
Audience :: "Watermelon!" "Somali pirates!" "Elk!"
Andrew:: "I heard... ''gun-related violence" and "attractive women."

So, Andrew rapped about ''gun-related violence" and "attractive women," which has a refrain that's so virulently not-PC that I don't think I should share it. Despite all of his evil-doing and disturbing lyrics, Andrew is a truly kind, warm, and amazingly stable man. His nickname is Pickles.

Birthday Kids went up after: Liz, Ralph, Jim, and Jesse, playing jam rock. Liz sang like a mellowed Janice Joplin; Ralph played the bass like a bear locked in a cellar for a few months. Jim controlled his drum set perfectly, and Jesse loved that guitar like a lover long-separated. The boys were all Connies (conservatory students): Jim is TIMARA, Ralph and Jesse are composition.

They have a lot of fun when they play: one of their games was "Mess with Jesse." Game was: Jim and Ralph would make a rhythm, and Jesse would solo. When folks got bored, they would raise their hands, and Jim and Ralph would set a new tempo. Five hands determined the game, so it changed a lot. It also proved how ill Jesse is. That boy loves his guitar.

A girl singing into a microphone and a boy playing the guitar
Liz and Jesse. Note how Jesse cannot see how gorgeous Liz is, due to his overwhelming love of his guitar. This is devotion, people.

After that... Dos Mil Días De Fuego!
Grey on rap/vocals; Sam on vocals; Khari and Sarah on the turntables; Ryan on bass; Jim on drums. It was awesome to hear them in a better venue (not a living room), even if I still didn't hear all of Grey's lyrics.


Grey is shirtless holding a microphone in front of a band
Grey spreads the word. Word, Grey.

They're an interesting band, with a lot of fluidity. Some songs are really furious and hip-hop/rap/metal, others are silly. Grey makes an excellent emcee, really pushing the crowd; Sam makes jokes and keeps things light, leading interactive dance sequences. She has a low, sweet voice, like a cup of hot chocolate in the morning. Khari and Sarah are sick - they played amazing dj sets between each band, keeping the energy high. Their samples were tight. Ryan makes superb faces when he plays and holds the beat steady. And Jim? Jim is incredible. He played drums for both bands and after their intense, kickin' sets, he smashed out a crazy solo.


A boy passionately playing the guitar, another boy singing into the microphone, and another boy mid head-throw
Note: Ryan's face. It is superb.


A boy playing the drums wearing a paper crown
Jim declared King of America.

It was an excellent crowd. We had enough space to dance - Harkness basement is able to serve over 100 members for each meal, so it certainly had space for 100 people to dance. There was a lot of good energy there: most people knew someone in the band, or really liked their style, so we had less general-party people and more open, happy, high-kickin' folks.

I left happy and sore, the way it should be.

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