Moe Rocks It

Surplus 1980, the new Moe! Staiano art/punk band, rocked the house at the Starry Plough Friday night. The band was energetic and tight. They were a quartet — bass, guitar, drums, and Moe on vocals, keyboards and extra guitar. I arrived mid-set, and through the door, it sounded like a lot more than four people.

Rhythmically, a lot of the songs moved in bursts, with barked staccato vocals and jagged guitar and bass parts. The drumming was terrific — loud but with a surprisingly light touch. (I don’t have the band members’ names down, sorry.)

I haven’t yet listened to the Relapse in Response album, copies of which were available at the show. It’s going to be a different experience, packed with horns and with Moe himself on drums. I’m glad I caught the band in straight rock format, though. They put on a solid show.

Surplus 1980

Moe takes to the guitar.

I’m pretty sure that’s Alee Karim on bass.

Moe owns an Invader Zim bag. I’m so jealous.

I expected White Pee to be noisy and bristling. The noise elements were there — guitar feedback, some keyboard/electronics — but the overall vibe was a more easygoing jam, drifting along with the rhythm. The band’s lineup varies every time, and this edition included a violin and cello, which I gathered was unusual. The strings might have helped define the mood of the show, and their contributions were great, often twirling well outside the determined rhythm and drone-chord to add all kinds of exciting color. They weren’t a jam band and weren’t a noise band — I thought of them as something closer to The Necks but with less looping.

White Pee, the sextet version. Dig the cute little amps.

I didn’t catch Aram Shelton’s Marches, which opened the evening. My kids had discovered the board game Clue and wanted to play a couple rounds before bed. Much as I enjoy seeing music, sometimes a better offer comes along.

Help Moe Make His Album!

UPDATE: We did it! Moe made his goal by $10, thanks to 75 generous contributors. Thanks, everyone.

There’s basically 1 day left …

July 4 is the Kickstarter deadline for funding the Moe! Staiano CD/LP recording project. By the time you read this, there’ll probably be less than 24 hours left, and at this writing, he’s so close to his $3,200 goal.

As mentioned before, the money would go towards printing CDs and LPs of Surplus 1980, a post-punk project that includes leftover songs from the defunct band Mute Socialite. There’s loud guitar goodness but also lots of other instruments, some vocals, and an all-around controlled-chaos philosophy in the music. (See Moe Staiano’s Next Album.)

But the link you really want to click (aside from the Kickstarter one) is this next one: The link to completed Surplus 1980 songs, posted to Soundcloud. You can find out exactly what kind of album you’re helping to create.

You can help put good music out to the world, and maybe even have Moe come to your house and make pancakes. Here’s the Kickstarter link.

Moe Staiano’s Next Album

Moe! Staiano has a new album recorded and is using Kickstarter to fund its release on CD and vinyl.  Go and listen; you might agree that it’s a worthy cause.

The band is called Surplus 1980 and it’s a successor to Mute Socialite, a band that impressed me with its punk energy, its jazz/prog complexity, and especially its tight musicianship. While I never saw Mute Socialite live, I really enjoyed their album, and once upon a time, I interviewed the whole band on the radio.

Mute Socialite started as a normal two-guitar rock quartet that eventually added trumpeter Liz Allbee. Surplus 1980 explodes the concept into a punchy pastiche, adding more horns, lots of vocalists (Mute Socialite, true to its name, was all-instrumental), a bit of piano here, a dose of bass clarinet there. I’m quite partial to the sound that the horns get on “Relapse in Response,” chirpy and riffy.

One nice thing about Kickstarter is that the artist can gather up small donations; you don’t have to put in more than the price of a CD if you don’t want to.

The other nice thing, though, is that Kickstarter can give a spotlight to projects that don’t have the publicity hook of live shows. Surplus 1980 is multilayered and instrumentally rich music, material that Moe! can’t show off, in full form, to bar and club crowds. That avenue of audience building (and revenue generating, assuming bands playing in clubs make any money) is closed.

The album is already recorded — brilliantly so, by Dan Rathbun, a cohort of Moe’s in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The hard part is done. Let’s help finish the easy part, the raw manufacturing. You can listen to a bunch of tracks on Soundcloud, then flip over to Kickstarter and help a good musician get some work out to the world.

Mission Creek: Creative Music, Represent!

source: facebookLineups for the Mission Creek Music Festival are out, and in addition to the usual rock/pop bands, they include some good representatives of improvised or jazzy music. Pinning down exact dates for exact shows is a challenge, though.

Mission Creek’s Facebook Page has a lot of the details, and you can see a few of the fliers up close. But the information there is listed in droplets; this page at Sonic Living provides a partial bird’s-eye view of the schedule, although they’ve subtracted some listings in the last 48 hours.

At any rate, there’s good music to be had:

* I know Inca Ore by reputation only, but it’s a good reputation. She’ll be headlining at the Argus Lounge on Tuesday, July 21.

* The show at the Argus Lounge lists William Winant, Weasel Walter, and Moe! Staiano, three terrific improvising percussionists. It appears they’ll be playing as a trio, which should be awesome. I’ve seen listings for this show on July 22, 23, or 24, so it’s anybody’s guess when this actually happens. (The flier above says July 22.)

* Aaron Novik’s Thorny Brocky is on a bill with some folky acts (Ramon & Jessica, for one). It was listed somewhere as a Friday, July 24 show.

source: facebook event listing, click to see(UPDATE 7/11/09:  Per Ursula’s note below, this show is at the Socha Cafe, where Mission and Valencia intersect (!) in San Francisco.  Details on this Facebook page, which is where I stole the nifty flier at left. Thanks Ursula!)

Aaron Novik is a clarinetist who plays in a wide scope of bands, many of them his own. He’s done Klezmer-tinged jazz (Gubbish), free jazz (Telepathy), modern fusion/improv (Kipple), metal (Simulacra, Edmund Welles) … and Thorny Brocky, which takes compositions from multiple Novik bands and puts them in a context that includes accordion (Dina Maccabee, who’s half of Ramon & Jessica) and violin (Marié Abe). Reverent Sisters and Poor Sweet Creatures were also on the bill that I saw.

Tape This! (Or: Namedropping Paul McCartney)

Time once again for the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, a celebration of experimental sounds.

Last year, I finally got to attend, and it was a real treat. What’s performed are prerecorded pieces that resemble today’s experimental laptop music. No, they don’t use tape; the pieces are played digitally — in total darkness with a 20-speaker sound system. A planetarium for the ears.

Pieces vary from metallic rushing noises, to alien waterlike sounds, to musique concrète (a high-def Revolution 9, in a sense). They do bring the lights up between pieces and let you know what’s coming next.

As usual, the three-day event has a different program each day. Depending on the day, you’ll get to hear:

  • New works from local artists like Moe! Staiano and Maggi Payne
  • Old works from classic practitioners of the genre: Varèse, Xenakis, Ligeti, Ussachevsky
  • A “celebrity” piece, this time from The Fireman — which consists of Youth (bassist from Killing Joke) and Paul McCartney. No, I don’t mean some other Paul McCartney. They’ve got a pop album out now but apparently did two electronica/trance albums earlier.

Note that the artists won’t actually be there, except probably the local ones. Most are too far away, too busy, or too dead.

You can see the SF Weekly make fun of the event here. (I think that’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, as if to say, “We’re on your side.” Needed a lighter touch.) More reasonable writeups of past shows are here and here.

The festival runs Jan. 30, Jan. 31, and Feb. 1 at CellSpace in San Francisco.