Interview with Divets/Review of Divets and Anisette: by John Touchton

Originally uploaded by jaxscene

How does such a small state produce so much good music? Rhode Island has been the birth place of some of my favorite bands: Arab on Radar, Daughters, Lightning Bolt and even The Body, who just played here last weekend. Last Monday night, I was able to befriend two more bands, stemming from the Ocean State; Divets, a one man psych project and math rock trio, Anisette, have been all along the East Coast, braving some of the coast’s recent blizzards and backwoods towns, ending up at Doozer’s Pub. Their arrival in Jacksonville was not welcomed by sunshine and warm weather as they had hoped for, nor were their many people at the show to greet them. But sometimes those empty-room shows can provide a more intimate experience, as well as a chance to talk with both Anisette and Divets about some of the stranger shows they’ve played this tour.

After the show, we all met at a friend’s house in Riverside to consume Busch, cheap wine and some fresh Californian herbs that they had acquired on their trip. The living room was live with drunken energy, but we managed to talk above everyone else and discuss what it’s like to play those awkward shows when on a self-booked tour.

John: You guys have traveled a long way, just to play for a few people at Doozer’s. I’m sure you’ve had similar shows on your way down. What do you think is the strangest show you’ve played, thus far?

Joe (Divets): This guy who was supposed to help us book the tour only ended up booking two dates. One place, in Big Stone Gap, VA, was called The Edge. It was this Christian, straight edge venue. They immediately acted weary around us and said that if we cursed at all, we’d have to leave. When we first arrived there was this woman standing at the venue, wearing an “I’m for Jesus” shirt. They didn’t care for us too much.

John: That reminds me of the Murray Hill Theatre here in Jacksonville. Did any thing good come from the show?

Joe: We received some expired orange juice, bread, and milk.

John: Any other difficulties during the tour?

Joe: There was another Christian venue in Mill Spring, NC that we were supposed to play. When we got to town there were these red necks with guns that just sat there staring at us, wickedly. We got to the venue and they told us that no one was coming out, but we could set up and play if we wanted. Luckily, our friends from Blastoids were playing a house show about three hours away, in Winston Salem, NC, so we ended up playing there instead.

John: That must’ve been a relief. I think that those kinds of shows are unavoidable, but worth it to play a few good ones. Are there any dates that you guys are excited about?

Joe: Yeah. We’re playing a show in Queens, NY as our last date. It’s this zine release show. There’s something like, eight bands playing and I guess it’s supposed to be a big deal. We’re playing Orlando tomorrow and then driving, I think, eighteen hours straight to Queens. We’re stoked.

Realizing that it was nearly 5am, we decided to call it a night. We said our goodbyes and reaffirmed plans for future National Dairy/Anisette/Divets shows.

Although they played for an almost empty bar, both Divets and Anisette kept a good attitude and it showed through their performances. We traded some of our merchandise for a few Divets/Anisette split mini-discs, stayed up late and discussed music all night. I feel that the show, overall, was fun and we met some cool kids from Rhode Island. Expect more music from that little mound of dirt off the coast to pop up in Jacksonville’s future.

The Body and Civilization: by John Touchton

Originally uploaded by jaxscene

Night did fall. And a penetrating breeze, whispering chilling rumors of evil and despair, did carry him steadfast, through vast plains of concrete and to his destination. The gates of Wambolt St. would steer our protagonist to his ruin… Sorry for the dark tone. Have I been reading too much Cormac McCarthy, you ask? Or could such grey narrative be due to the quality doses of doom, administered by Providence based duo, The Body and Jacksonville’s own, Civilization? Saturday night was borderline freezing, but such low temperature wasn’t going to curb the desires of those in need of a fix of iniquitous metal.

Warehouse 8b has been home to a collection of artists, while also providing a place for bands to practice and book shows. Saturday night, however, Unit 8b acted more as a giant refrigerator, in which to host a night of loud music played through very large amps. The first band that played was called Nuclear 2. As soon as they started they were almost finished. After an assault of blast beats and cymbal crashes that lasted only minutes, the masked drummer angrily removed his outer face and threw down his drumsticks, with frustration. This was my queue to get warm by the fire outside, but only embers remained, smoldering and emitting a thick smoke, reminiscent of countless fires before it.

Speaking of nostalgia, watching Civilization that evening reminded me of just how long they’ve been playing. Very few Jacksonville bands from five years ago are still together. Josh and Eric, however, still seem to enjoy damaging eardrums and their progress, after losing a bass player to the Portland, Oregon migration movement, shows that a two piece band can still deliver volumes of trembling guitar riffs and droning drum beats. Civilization’s set, that evening, tore through the cold and vibrated the sternums of stoned onlookers. Boasting their freshly pressed LPs and t-shirts, their merch table also presented a few zines from the main library’s new collection. According to Josh, they’ve just obtained the entire archive of Maximum Rock and Roll. Be sure to check out Civilization again on Jan. 16 at the 5 Points Theatre, as they provide an original soundtrack to classic cinema.

Gazed upon through the darkness, The Body slowly assembled and at the center of this frigid warehouse was the warmth of a small crowd of anticipators. Only a vague light subtly illuminated the room with a quiet shine. With the first chord, struck a heavy blow. The ground trembled and within measures everyone seemed to be swaying in unison, entranced by such bleak sound waves. Although this was my first chance to see The Body perform, I did managed to catch a hip-hop project called Lorna Doom a few years ago, which contained one member of The Body, as D.J. They were obviously new at what they were doing, but it was good. They even sampled a song by The Pixies, which must have been some kind of copyright infringement, as I don’t believe they could afford to pay for its use. But Saturday night, The Body delivered an onslaught of dark, heavy riffs, as if the soundtrack to hell was chopped and screwed. As they make their way back up the East Coast, I’m sure they’ll look back at their Jacksonville date as the warmest.

Overall, I believe the black cold of the night called for a helping of perilous metal such as this: loud and evil. They go together like cookies and milk.

In Search of Oblivion: by John Touchton

Wednesday, Oct. 28: the Japanther show, at T.S.I. was where I was going to be; to tell this story through my own recollection, might take a bit of embellishment. It was one of those oblivion-seeking nights and I had broken a covenant with myself, deciding to mix liquor and energy drinks, which allows the body to continue raging after the mind has already waved the white flag. Arriving at T.S.I with a stomach full of Four Loco, vodka left over from the A.N.T.E. Up tournament, countless beer, and a Red Bull to boot, already had me foaming at the mouth. Where do I begin?
Let’s start with Chicken and Whiskey, which might have been a less lethal combination than the concoction of berserk I had already consumed. All I remember is that before they played, I was doing a mixture of blow and gunpowder in the bathroom with Macho Man Randy Savage. They call this “brown brown” in the African jungles, but he insisted on calling it “buff ice.” When I looked up from the broken mirror, lying on the floor of the men’s stall, Randy was gone. I assumed that he had pussies to pile drive and rap albums to record, so I didn’t question his disappearance. C. and W. had already started by the time I made my way to the dance floor, which had been turned into a slip-and-slide of beer, sweat, and possibly blood, as I’ve been told I hit my head more than once. Don’t worry though, my ears aren’t ringing anymore and they have only bled twice since that night. Just as they were finishing their set, some drunken asshole from the crowd flew onto the stage, knocking over keyboards like bowling pins, just to be carried off in a frenzied stupor.
I hadn’t seen Tough Junkie perform in a minute, so I was more than stoked to see him play; and lucky for him, I was there. If my memory serves me correctly, I was able to perform an interpretive break dance to his set, wooing old T.J., along with the audience. I have to say that I may have stolen the show, but Tough Junkie was good too. After the set, I went to the restroom in search of more “buff ice,” but instead found Fred Durst and Big Dunn having a rap battle, just like in the music videos. I think Durst was the victor, but my memory on the evening is a little hazy, so it could have been either one. It was a good thing that with every pulse, my body was pumping taurine, guarana, caffeine, and alcohol, because the night was fading and Japanther had yet to play.
The first time I saw Japnather play, I was in Bloomington, Indiana for the 2006, Plan-it-X Fest. I remember this night more clearly than the T.S.I. show. I had never heard of them before, but was not disappointed in their set, as their songs were infectiously poppy. Then I caught them at a house show last year in St. Augustine; the walls were lined with bobbing bodies, sweating profusely, which seems to be protocol at a Japanther show. Earlier this year, while in Brooklyn, I attempted to catch Japanther in their hometown at a warehouse space, called The Shank. I’m pretty sure they were selling booze under the table there, but that was fine with me. After a week of spending Florida-earned dollars in an economy much stronger than ours, I was happy to buy cheap anything. Although Japanther never showed up, for some reason I never found out, I did get to catch Brooklyn based hip-hop group, Ninjasonik, perform an entire set, free styling over Japanther songs. It was definitely a worthy consolation. This time, however… Well, let’s see if I can dig into the deepest pits of my black out. I think they covered some songs by The Cure; I do remember some crowd surfing and Lil’ Willy got hit in the nuts; more sweaty, beer slip-and-sliding occurred; and I don’t remember the ride home. How is that for a review?
Recollection is a fickle function of the mind. It can be the worst liar or the truth you never wanted to know. Although, I don’t remember much of what I’ve heard happened, the fact that I still feel like I got in a fight with Mickey Rourke makes it difficult to deny such allegations. If there are any disputes as to what I’ve claimed as absolute truth in this review, feel free to fill in the blanks via comments. Thank you.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch at The Sinclair

As one of Jacksonville’s staples of entertainment, the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, has come to an end, at least tentatively, others are looking for ways to fulfill the hole that was left behind. When Tom asked me if I wanted to cover the opening night for the production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the Sinclair, with promises of free admission for two and some drinks on the house, I agreed to do so; it was Friday night and sounded like it would be my cheapest route for a good time.
Upon arrival, and maybe it’s my fault for getting stoned prior to the show, there were some miscommunications about my entry fee. Although the situation was quickly resolved, I was only disappointed to find that, in the spirit of trans-gendered rock operas, the only free drink was a pink concoction that consisted of a mixture of liqueurs, garnished with a strawberry; I ordered the pale ale and found a table in the back, as the performance was about to commence.
The introduction was just as the film portrays and the authenticity doesn’t fizzle out. All of the songs were dead on and Hedwig, played by Josh Waller, was well received. Although the stage room was limited, Waller brought the rest of the bar, as well as its patrons, in on the act. This performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch was, definitely, a fresh experience and while the similarities are notable, it is the differences that set it apart from the film.
As Jacksonville strives to create and maintain a viable art scene, it is imperative that we support what’s going on. There will be performances on October 2nd and 3rd, then on the 7th, during Art Walk, the 8th, and the 10th. All performances start promptly at 9:30, so don’t “drag” ass. (Sorry, I had to end it with a bad pun.)
Designer and Stylist: Joy A Smith
Director: Christopher P. Farrell
And the cast…
Hedwig: Josh Waller
Ythzak: Maya Adkins
Jacek: Ryan Turk
Schlatko: John Boote
Krzyzhtof: Brennan Hammil
Skszp: Arron Marshall
Reviewed by John Touchton