The Baltimore Avant-Garde at (le) Poisson Rouge
I suppose the bands I saw Friday night in the Baltimore Round Robin at (le) Poisson Rouge didn’t overtly define themselves as avant-garde, but they were certainly esoteric enough to be described that way. Furthermore, their pride in their irreverence, marked in many cases by aloofness, to the extent of failing to tell the audience their name (as if they’re so above the current music scene to care if we know who they are), made me think that many of them have quite lofty perceptions of themselves.
Despite my initial aversion to the elaborately esoteric nature of some of these performances, very quickly I began to hear the rhythm and beauty in even the most bizarre of noise bands there that night. Even the Lexie Mountain Boys, a group of women who did all manner of screeching, moaning, and yelping to convince me that I was either at a ritualistic ceremony or a violent orgy, captivated me.
The round robin concept, in which the audience forms in the middle and is surrounded by all of eleven bands, who alternate playing one song after another, was the perfect way in which to experience this music. I couldn’t imagine staying through concerts of most of these bands independent of each other, with the exception of Beach House, Jana Hunter, and possibly Teeth Mountain. The avant-garde elements were accessible because of the alternating and spontaneous form. The round robin is broken up into two nights. Friday was “Eyes Night” and Saturday, “Feet Night,” a night of dance music rather than the more visual music of Friday’s show. (le) Poisson Rouge on Bleeker and Thompson provided the perfect space for this unusual event, getting it on the GL of NY music venues.
I haven’t come close to succeeding in describing this show adequately for you. The bizarre, fantastic, and insane knew no bounds. These elements were all too numerous to describe here, so let me briefly list the highlights:
Beach House: My favorite band of the evening, and the one I was most anxious to see. Read this wonderful reviewof their latest album on Pitchfork.
Lexi Mountain Boys: As I mentioned previously, somehow the orgasmic grunts and howls of this group of women (wearing headdresses of baby doll heads and black perforated veils), became increasingly rhythmic and melodic to me as the night wore on. The blast they were having, that was apparent from their infectious, genuine smiles, took any pretention out of their inexplicable music.
The female drummer from Teeth Mountain: This woman’s sexy, tribal style of drumming and the captivating music it made, blew me away. I could have listened and watched her play all night.
Santa Dads: This band consisted of three people: one man beat-boxing in a cotton, handmade tiger suit, another, wearing a red dress with a Peter Pan collar playing an electric ukelaili, and a back up dancer undulating frantically with a stuffed leopard print octopus. Enough said.
Wish I could have gone to “Feet Night” as well, to get the full Baltimore music experience, but the 92Y Tribeca opening was that night. I wouldn’t have missed if you paid me. Expect a post soon.