Weeping Willow - Radio-Active Records - May 25


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Ian Witlen

Better than: a South Beach happy hour


Last week, County Grind gave you a touch of what to expect from the first ever Weeping Willow event. Friday night at Radio-Active Records featured out of this world experimental noise organized by Richard Vegez of dark synthy act Mothersky. There might not have been weeping or any willows, but some of the sounds coming from Radio-Active probably had unprepared passers-by in tears. 

There were six acts involved in the noise-fest, so take a deep breath, put on some Enya, light some incense because we are about to embark on a dark journey down a loud, long, eery  road that was the inagural Weeping Willow event.


The insanity kicked off with Human Fluid Rot, a one man act performed by musician Robbie Brantley, also a member of KARRAS, a local heavy metal band formed in 2006. Alvarez of Chrome Dick was also a member. HFR focuses on one-time-use tones, that is: "Tones and wave lengths that continue to change and reform at every musical turn." Each song is a constant evolution based on what Brantley feels -- thus the vibe produces the music, not the other way around.

HFR was feeling pretty damn insane, it would then seem. With the use of tools like pedals, dials, and knobs, he created a unique noise -- to say the least -- which had members of the audience smiling through finger-plugged ears and vibrating bones. Human Fluid Rot didn't disappoint. It was like nails on a chalkboard, in a completely mind-fuckingly-amazing way. 

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Ian Witlen
HFR happened to be the "heaviest" of all the performances. We were actually expecting the sound system to run for the hills. The set only lasted maybe five minutes, but those five minutes were something else. It was exceptionally loud. It was ridiculously intense. It was effing awesome.

Chrome Dick, brainchild of Alvarez, was next -- and not just in terms of the line up. His shit is next-level. Chrome Dick's musical equipment was more traditional for live music, including a drum set, keyboard, and his vocals. Mr. Dick, if you will, is definitely more melodic in nature, blending live instrumentals and pre-recorded tracks to achieve harsh, improvised "ambient rock." More like ambient boulder, if you ask us.

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Ian Witlen
Alvarez' vocals only added to the haunting feel in the room, everyone seemingly contemplating their own existence while sipping away on various flavored Boba-tea, provided by Boba Station mobile truck. It was actually lent quite a bit to the uncanny atmosphere --probably the only point in the night where a seemingly happy person might have shed a tear or two (or more, we wouldn't judge) and not have known why.

The night's performances continued with Mothersky, a collaborative effort influenced more by "krautrock, post-punk, and instrumental surf," according to the duo, but don't you dare think you're about to hear the Beach Boys. No, no, no. 
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Ian Witlen
Mothersky
Mothersky's live act is combination of Richard Vergez' mixed-media skills and Kelvin Mitchell's pounding bass lines. They hypnotized the audience with their transitive set, uprooting the crowd from inside the local record shop to another plane of introspection and "dark mood." 

Like most of the other artists, Motherysky's sound was noisy(duh) was less improvised, much different from what HFR and Chrome Dick performed. This doesn't necessarily imply that Mothersky isn't experimental live, because they certainly were -- Mitchell moved about the space with his bass and fed off of the crowd's energy, and Vergez' work was poetically palpable. Everyone should listen to Mothersky and if you don't, sorry boutchya -- you're totally missing out.

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Ian Witlen
LLLR
Low Level Lazer Radiation (yeah, try saying that ten times fast. Good luck!) followed Mothersky's set. Nelson Hallonquist, also of Cop City Chill Pillars, was featured in County Grind earlier this year before his performance at the International Noise Conference. His is another mind-blowing solo act. Hallonquist also runs West Palm Beotch Records, a label which endorses both Chrome Dick and Mothersky projects. 

When LLLR took the stage, the atmosphere shifted. It started as sort of a montage you might see in a slow-motion car crash scene on TV. Disconnected, dreamy, and a little creepy --because you know how it ends. A slow transition started about halfway through the set, a subtle mayhem, reminiscent of a Hunter S. Thompson-esque drug induced, schizophrenic, hallucinatory moment a-la Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. We can only imagine that everyone left the show with this act still on their mind, in fact, "Wait, I feel like I'm tripping on peyote," was overheard in the crowd. 

There was yet another mood changer in LLLR's set, transporting the audience to what felt like an 8-bit video game universe. We were expecting Link to pop up and offer us the Triforce, or Yoshi to come strolling by looking for Mario. Luckily -- or un-luckily, depending on how you look at it -- there were no actual hallucinations of the sort, that we know of anyway, and the mood Hallonquist created was left in our minds forever.
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Ian Witlen
Kenny Millions
True to his ridiculous eclectic mix of noise rock, sexually charged, and obscure live performance, Kenny Millions took the crowd by storm -- giving us all a good old fashioned mind fuck. As he says, "Wimps and candyasses fuck off - you can't handle this shit." His set wasn't for the easily offended or weak-hearted. He crazily fingered away at his electric guitar -- which had an old school CD player magically adhered to it, which pumped out the hip-hop backtracks that accompanied his wild guitar solos. Mr. Million introduced his muse, er, yeah that's what we'll call "her," a life-sized blonde haired plastic blow-up doll, whose plastic anatomy was on display for all to see, and see we did. Wardrobe malfunction? We think not.

Mr.Millions quickly placed his lady friend on the neck of his guitar, yet another sexually provocative move, which seemed to be the major part of his set. As he violently thrashed and stumbled around the crowd, he shoved the doll in unsuspecting faces and sucked on parts that would have earned his performance an NC-17 rating. 
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Ian Witlen
The issue, besides the seemingly crazy dude old enough to be your father dry humping a blow-up doll doggy style in the middle of a record store, was that we didn't pay much attention to the music. There was a saxophone involved at some point, which I couldn't help but refer to as "sexophone" for the rest of the night, but his guitar playing was spastic.

For someone like Millions, who has performed worldwide as a classically trained saxophonist and all around exceptionally successful jazz musician and restauranteur, the avant garde, perverted, over-the-top spectacle of his performance had us questioning his sanity, as well as our own. He has something we should all look up to, a "don't give a fuck" attitude. Millions straddles the fine line between having perfect control and all out insanity, and we can't hate on that.

The night wrapped up with the duo of Rat Bastard and Sharlyn Evertsz. Rat, as he's affectionately called, brought out some seriously incredible guitar skills as Evertsz kneeled in the background and poked away at a machine -- coincidentally called a KAOS pad -- which looks like a ghost trap. Fitting. The pair brought us full-circle for the night, a perfect send off of melodic-meets-nutty experimental set infused with rock 'n' roll.

All-in-all, the first ever Weeping Willow show at Radio-Active Records was a success. It had musicians and noise fans thrilled. The noise newbies left feeling pretty damn hateful. But that's okay! Music is so blah these days that feeling anything is worth more than the shallow dribble we're used to. 

Critic's Notebook

Feelings and Observations: Whatever noise is, I'm not sure if I hate it with a passion or love every second of it, but at least it sparks a conversation and, of course, allows experimental music to thrive in South Florida (thanks to the ever-enduring brilliance of Rat Bastard).


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