Friday, January 4, 2008

Gimmicks, Grimy Glitz, and Chaos, remembering Stych, Part 2.

“You got- something to say, don’t need …” Ben bellowed at the crowd, who were most likely by this point closer to disgusted and annoyed than anything else, in a baritone-ish delivery that wasn’t quite talking, singing or yelling, but had elements of all three, and definitely wasn’t rapping either. He teetered on the edge of the stage, like a giant version of the Roadrunner, catching himself repeatedly to prevent a fall, just before the Coyote (the rest of us spasming on the stage behind him?) could catch up and push him over the edge. As he “sang,” his hands kept in continual motion; stealing hats from audience members and placing them on the heads of unsuspecting girls at the other end of his enormous wingspan, tossing out torn pages of ridiculous gimmick-porn mags, obscenely taunting the dancers that we had brought to occupy the cages that this venue happened to have perched on the corners of the stage. A devilish smirk stung across his face the whole while.

Later in the show, I thought that it would be a good idea to attempt to enter the cage with the dancer that was closest to my side of the stage. I forgot, however, that I was wearing a guitar around my neck, and needed room in front of it for my hands to move in order to continue to play it. Naturally, despite my somewhat diminutive size (Ben often jabbed at me between songs with derogatories implying in creative/ offensive ways that I was pale and malnourished) I got stuck. I found myself in the entrance-way to the cage (which, for those of you who’ve never had the privileged and enlightening experience of being on the performing end of a stripper’s apparatus, is basically just two of the bars that are spaced ever-so-slightly further apart), attempting to continue playing, while trying to figure out if it was more feasible to get in or get out. Meanwhile, the dancer decided that, rather than help me, it would be more entertaining to continue dancing and laugh at me, and draw the crowd’s attention to my plight. We had, after all, brought her and her companion along for the purpose of entertaining the crowd, and with that purpose in mind, I can’t begin to claim that she made the wrong decision. After the song concluded, I was able to remove myself, only by removing my guitar and edging it out first, while Ben stood making mock head-scratching gestures between me and the laughing crowd. “You know, I’m not typically the type to complain that strippers are too thin, but… when that kid can’t fit into the cage, the openings might just be a bit too small. Hell, look at him. He turns sideways, he disappears!”

Ben jumped across the stage to the edge closest to the bar. “This next one’s dedicated to the bartender jerk with the pompadour that we can’t seem to distract away from him god-damn game of nudie video-poker. I heard that he’s an Elvis fan.”

“Want to listen to the king? YOU look like an Elvis fan…” The little girl’s voice on the sample ripped through the crowd (yeah, you guessed it, the name of the act and samples throughout the show were lifted and modified from the most inappropriate source that could have been chosen; a Disney cartoon intended for children, which also happened to strike a strange resonance with our caricature-ish front-man), and we launched into what was probably the noisiest cover of “Heartbreak Hotel” ever attempted.

From certain angles, this act could possibly have been ridiculously entertaining. For the same reasons, from absolutely every angle this act was just absolutely ridiculous. The thing was, to at least a couple of us involved in the project, that was completely the point. Stych wasn’t shock-rock, that game’s been done. We weren’t trying to be over-the-top, or support any sort of initiative to bring physical entertainment back to music. To some of us, Stych was mostly an experiment in the validity of incoherent gimmicks, a foray into the absurd, a performance-art pastiche of conflicting elements of how entertainment is currently sold and marketed (even the music itself was composed of countless elements that were intentionally ill-fitted for each other, absurd change-ups, and gimmicky dance-riffs stolen from genres that were completely not what we were selling ourselves as). The members who weren’t completely on the same page in this regard only added a validity and earnestness to the endeavor that couldn’t have been accomplished had we all been concept-artists dealing in the art of gimmickry, intentional revelers in the ridiculous.

And, hell, most of all, the chaotic (and absurdly loud) experiment that we called Stych was more fun than most of my other musical endeavors that had “legitimate” musical aspirations (but, prove themselves, in retrospect, not much less gimmicky) combined.

No comments: