Jan 7, 2008

Ian Epps, ( ) aka Parenthesis, Darsombra , and Pacific Before Tiger at Tommy's Tavern


I found out about the above show through Ian Epps, whose music I've been listening to for maybe about a year now, but had yet to see performed live. I went with no expectations whatsoever and I came home with a record. I believe events benefit from presenting few expectations of what is about to happen. The memory is better, seriously. Think about walking into an art installation with various contributors--one doesn't necessarily just remember individual works of art, but the context as well--i.e., the audio, the people, the space itself. And if spirits are present--real spirits, not just alcoholic spirits--it becomes worth writing about somehow.

Tommy's is in Greenpoint, not all that far from the bridge to Queens. A single door separates it from the street.
It's got two rooms, separated by swinging double doors with glassless diamond windows. The first room has enough room for a pool table, the bar itself, an enormous nu-generation juke box that you can pay for with a debit card and a video game unit with Penthouse Photohunt, among others. It has an aura of having been there for a long time, a bar that has neither prospered nor failed, in the words of Mailer. The emptied out back room is big enough for small shows.

Small clusters of people haunt Tommy's tonight--a group wedged between the pool table and the wall, women on the corner of the bar, a guy to our right on the phone speaking Polish. It's sort of obvious that there's a non-distinct group their for the show, and then there are the regulars and passersby. People who've come to the bar on their own, for no other reason than to be among drinkers and strangers, to drink $2 Schaeffers. I feel no pretensions in the place, about 30 strong, all you need, if you think about it.

( ) aka Parenthesis performed first and his was the record I bought and have been listening to over the past couple of days. I listen to it with my fingers on the EQ knobs, playing it loudly, with and without the three frequencies i have control over. Check out his work here and here.

Later as I'm getting another Schaeffer I notice tres chavos playing pool. They have a faintly military air about them, almost a discipline to their leisurely game of pool. Two of them, trimly built, are wearing vaguely military gear--one has an army hat and the other has military fatigues, or something like that. Militant fashion. The third dude is wider and has long hair. Anyway, these guys are playing pool with the girl with the dark curly hair and striped sweatshirt, who complained to everyone in particular that she couldn't remember New Year's night. The room carries her voice throughout the bar whenever she says anything, through the glassless windows and into the performance space.

This same girl commented on my new Christmas sweatshirt--the one with the post-capitalist--i.e., futuristic--design, a smart reproduction of indigenous american aesthetics for working-class consumption. I love this sweatshirt. Anyway, when the rockabilly-like brooklyn bartender (whom Ian said was her boyfriend, which is a nice twist) went missing looking for a cable, she was the one who yelled--"Hey bartender I need you to get me a drink before it gets too far past my parole curfew." Anyway, she's playing pool with the raza militantes, a cordial game that ends as I sip my beer. I go back inside to catch Pacific Before Tiger's set and she comes in sometime later and yells "You Guys Rock!" over Tiger's hopeful tones.

I have to mention that
I hate most bar experiences these days. In fact, I went to see a dj set the next night by Antiguo Automata Mexicano, and it was the stupidest shit I've ever been to. Not because of Antiguo, whose work you should check out, but because the bar was dead (despite the beats of course), the spirit was awash. Lonely dudes who looked like dejected graphic designers looked me over as I listened to the show, a couple on a "date" sort of gave me a weird look. The air was stiff though the bartender kept giving me free beers. Antiguo seemed to be in a good mood and the bar-goers clapped during his set, but the the spirits were listless, unshifting. The difference with this bar, in the heart of Williamsburg, was perhaps that it had prospered, it was making someone rich. Spirits sucked dry.

Back at Tommy's land, we headed back inside after grabbing a slice of pizza. A soul at the door made conversation with us, a three-part exchange with a beginning middle and an end that i have no recollection of whatsoever, and we were re-admitted. Darsombra is setting up his gear at this point--and he had a lot of it, neatly organized I might add. I hear the girl's voice again, the voiceover of the evening, ask "Ya acabaron su musica? Ya acabaron sus canciones de mierda?" This was when I laughed and decided to take some pictures, though I'd be too shy until Ian played. We need oppositional voices to what we do, at all times, rather than smiles and polite nods. This probably also separated Tommy's Tavern from the Antiguo show--a genuine diversity.
Ian came on last. Nick mentioned that Ian plays the guitar in less electronic/expermintal modes, which adds something somehow to the aura of his music. He performs with a guitar and a computer, and the experience is unique.