Last night I attended the fabled Black Cat, quite possibly DC's best presenter of real and true indie music. Last night wasn't your average indie show. Sure the hipsters were out in full force; the bearded savants, the leather belt-clad punks, the trendy Asian woman, and a few brothas and sistas here and there.
The opener was a sort of noise-experimental electronic artist named Tyondai Braxton who I had never heard of. He played sitting down on a carpet with all sorts of pedals and gears. His voice and guitar were run through all these and he got a really echoey vibe on all 3 songs he played. This was not like noise exactly. It was more like Lungfish or Deerhoof but without intelligable lyrics. At one point I think he MC'd but overall his set was pretty mediocre. Check out his website for the projects he has worked on including a commission for Yale and some work with Elliott Sharp. It seems like he's toured with Prefuse quite a bit over the last two years.
But the real main event didn't hit until 11:30. I won't go into the long ridiculous wait (which was ridiculous.... and long). But when he finally went on, he really brought it. Prefuse 73 aka Scott Herren is an Atlanta-bred now world-famous hip-hop/electronic producer whose last few albums for Warp records have been extraordinary. He was maneuvering on some sort of synthesizer or a rack of synths that he seemed to be striking like he was hitting the bobbing heads of the hippopotami in Hungry Hungry Hippos. He spent most of the time bent over this contraption (except when he turned to the crowd during intervals, hands clasped and bowed, soaking in the enrichment of the crowd's cheers). Thus, most of the time it was hard to see exactly what he was doing or on which machine. I think he also had one of those KAOS pads which he constantly had his left hand running all over for the craziest zoomy, bangalicious, and whooping effects.
Behind Herren's back and in front of the audience was a skilled turntablist whose named I didn't catch, but you could tell this dude has been diggin in the crates for some time. However, I recognized several of the background vocals and some of the chords on some hooks from Prefuse's latest Prefuse 73 reads The Books. Probably the majority were produced or co-produced by Prefuse. But the spontaneity of the abrupt changes in key and time signature (usually demarcated with a screech or other loud cacophonous noise) was breathtaking. There was very little scratching if at all. Somehow they kept mixing it up with new stuff. I don't think they used the same trick or record twice or for more than 2 minutes.
Unfortunately, I was with some high school friends who weren't really into it. One of the four of them actually paid for a ticket and came upstairs, but none of them had heard his name or his producing credentials. Most of the night, these three were downstairs at the downstairs bar, drinking cheap $3.50 drafts. It really kills me how so many people are unwilling to go outside their sphere of familiarity. Even liberal-minded kids who are cultured and shit. It is depressing.
On the other hand, It was encouraging though the number of people at the show. There had to be at least 300 people there. It is a huge room so it is hard to gauge but it was more packed than any indie or "artistic" show I've been to in Pittsburgh. Thank god for people who book with good taste. I think when I get back, I am going to decree that we buy all the Prefuse we don't have.
Anyways, I left about 40 minutes into Prefuse' set since I had been waiting around for him since 9:45 and due to my one friends' pressure (the one who bought a ticket!). So you'll have to check another blog or the Post or next week's City Paper to see how it ended. I got several pics on my cell phone and once I get to a machine with Bluetooth I will put them up here - who knows how good or bad the visual quality will be. They were cell phone pics without a flash. It was truly an invigorating night. Made me want to go buy his shit...especially the album with Ghostface.