Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Fresh 3

This is the 3rd time i've sat done, to write this article. My annoying 'serious journalist' voice was striving to take over, like some malignant tumor, and i was getting bored writing it, so i can't even imagine what it would be like to read. My nervous system literally won't let me put out stale, forced art.

I managed to talk my way into a guest pass for Super Fresh 3, which happened last weekend at Branx, which is on the bottom floor of the Rotture building, in the Produce Row section of SE Portland. Its grimy as fuck, and it fills me with a warm, decrepit post-industrial phosphorescent. I felt like a character in a William Gibson novel, i was wearing goggled and leopard skin, stalking the shadowy streets of Portland.

The posters for Super Fresh had caught my eyes, intrigued by the tag line Revenge of the Synths. For the past couple of months, i've been obsessed with minimal and cold wave, anything vaguely eastern european sounding, or resembling early industrial music. I can't even describe what it is about this aesthetic that is so intriguing to me, maybe the early electronic music seems SEXIER, more dangerous. There's a real sense of adventure and possibility in the early 80s, streamlined into the future. But the fact that it was an all ages dance party at Branx had me worried that it might be a furry ritalin rave for the pre adolescent, which is sort of fun, but it makes me feel old as dirt.

I was surprised and delighted to find Super Fresh 3 to be two days of analog goodness and weirdness. The whole spectrum of synth music was represented, something for the Harsh Noise freak and the candy raver alike. Highlights for me were Litanic Mask, the perfect blend of dystopian noise and raw beating heart. I loved the combination of weirdo synth tones and old drum machines with a woman singing ethereally over top. The combined whole was evocative and mesmerizing, and answered some lingering questions i've had about writing songs with unconventional instruments and sounds.

Another highlight for me, was Johnny X and the Groadies, who blended technical thrash death and black metal with cybernetic blast beats. It was like a race of warlords, attempting to invoke the Elder Gods, as a last ditch effort to stop a rampaging band of Terminators, accompanied by a dizzying onslaught of strobe lights, dayglo, flashing lights, fog. Paradise. Lost.

Radiation City, the headliners of the second night, were probably the band most people were there to see, a bright light on the event horizon of the fragmented Portland music scene. They are sort of friends of friends, but i hadn't heard their music yet. Kind of an anomaly in the mix, in that they were hardly electronic at all, yet they did have kind of a Stereolab retro-futurism vibe at times, with multiple Rhodes and Wurlitzers on stage. Their music is mostly a very luxurious, ornate, pop; rich as truffle groovy, smooth as satin. They have an infectious innocence, but also confidence, that probably got the people moving more consistently that any other band i had seen that weekend.

Honorable mentions to Vice Device, with a new New Romanticism. Echoes of early Cure, Erasure. Synth pops like a balloon, the future stands starkly revealed, looking into the mirror, examining its flaws. Which way forward? How to be young? I feel old.... A graceful, feminine heart, peaking through steel girders. Anoint thyself in iron and bronze, hide behind artifice and posture, and maybe the stones flung will not hurt so badly. And to the woman singer, i do not know yr name, or anything of yr biography, but you move me in an inarticulate way, and i like yr labcoat.

The rest were a hodge podge of live pa techno analog electronics and rock bands, with some degree of synthesis mixed in. I didn't hear a bad band in the bunch, i would advise looking at the flyer at the top, and doing some research. I left early the first night, i had a bunch of shit to do the next day, but i hear that Wampire are quite tremendous, and i will check them out, next time they play. I also really liked Truckasaurus, from Seattle. I love dancing to analog equipment, and i am astounded how i rediscover, on a nearly daily basis, how much i fucking love techno and every variant of electronic music, and also how good it is for me to dance.

This event was organized by a group called SuperNature, who do a monthly dance night. Portland brings out my inner goth kiddy, and the fact that there are events like this going on, at all, and there are places like The Lovecraft within walking distance from where i live, makes me a happy kitty indeed.

I heard a lot of haters, this weekend, and i wonder what the hell it takes to impress you people? I mean, really, what are you looking for? This was two days of interesting music for 10 bucks. Maybe they just don't like experimental music? Or sincerity? For my money, i thought everything i heard was worthwhile, and worth the price of admission.

Big big ups to Manny Reyes, for putting this together and for getting me on the guest list, and also to all the bands that played.

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