Beating June Gloom At June GloomBy Shane Roeschlein
Date Nights are hard won for the parental set. For me and my partner, it’s usually dinner and home by 10, in bed by 10:15. Yet, with two cups of espresso brewed with a Chinese knock-off Bialleti, we set out to conquer the night and to get our requisite dousing of doom. June is the gloomiest season in San Diego, but as a trade-off for nearly a year’s worth of cloudless elegiac days, 30 oppressive gray ones seem fair. However, in San Diego’s burgeoning noise music scene, June is also the perfect time to put on a mini-festival. Sure, it’s no Gothenburg in February, but we take what we can get.
June Gloom at the Kava Gallery was put together by Sam Lopez (Zsa Zsa Gabor). He’s been part of San Diego’s underground noise scene for the past decade. His Experimental Guitar Show earlier this year had guitar pedal nerds drooling like a pack of bath salts zombies converging on a hoboburger. Somewhat disappointed, I learned that Sam had decided not to perform that night. Nevertheless, he was clearly thrilled with the turnout.
We arrived in time to catch the last several minutes of Arcata, California’s Tabloid set. Tape cutting, projection (non-astral), and garbled samples filtered through a mess of synth and guitar gear made for an interesting soundscape. Not quite Tribes of Neurot, but there were certainly echoes of the Neurosis side-project in their composition.
Next up was ANA, the solo noise project from Demetrius Antuna of San Diego’s moody art rock collective, KATA. ANA laid down some bubble gut producing brown notes on a fully-filtered bass rig, overdubbed with some ethereal vocal chants, and switched to a guitar to fortify the songs with ample amounts of reverb and delay. Incidentally, ANA set the bar for serious fucking fog machining. So much so that, after his set it, inspired us to head to the alley next to the train tracks and power station and hotbox the Camry, preparing our minds for the sensory overload of Author & Punisher.
Upon our return, the atmosphere had become more festive, due in part to a meticulously groomed, auburn-maned hesher bedecked in a Cattle Decapitation t-shirt tucked neatly into a pair of light blue Bugle Boy jeans dancing awkwardly to the proto industrial beats of Author & Punisher. I believe he may have been doing this in an unsuccessful attempt to hide the fact that he was crop dusting.
Tristan Shone is an engineer by day and the envy of Hell Raiser’s Pinhead (if he were to front an industrial noise band) by night. Tristan built the "instruments" for the one-man band that is A&P himself; using Arduino, an “open-source electronic prototyping platform [that] allows the creation of interactive electronic objects,” Tristan has developed instruments like the Big Nobs, Rack & Pinion, and my favorite device, Rails. Rails reminded me of a Railgun scavenged from an antique USA-G10 Glitter Boy power armor suit (Rifts analog RPG). My partner, on the other hand, remarked that it reminded her of one of those "robo-dildos from Kink.com," which was, incidentally said aloud during a lull in one of the songs. Wow. Epic timing.
A&P was incredible. His vocals were sung-whispered into an eight-microphone device called the Headgear, during which his face was a rictus of bleeding rectal and/or abdominal pain. I fantasized briefly that he was merely reciting the items from a grocery list. A&P was one of the most engrossing performances I’ve seen in years. I highly recommend seeing him live. This is the music I’ll use to terrify my kids.
Bastard Noise closed out the evening. Though they had some tech difficulties at first, which lasted about four minutes according to the "death clock" ticking off the seconds and minutes on the table behind them, things got situated with some help from Tristan. Bastard Noise has a rotating cast of contributors, including Justin Pearson, Masami Akita, Henry Barnes, and Eric Wood of Man is the Bastard. They were doing some interesting cut-ups with a sample of a person speaking Japanese combined with some well-timed squeals and pops.
Then, there was a tug on my elbow. My partner had had enough of what she dubbed, “meth-rock.”
Most people reference Switchfoot, Jason Mraz, Ron Burgundy, and flip-flops when talking about San Diego’s music scene, usually in the same string of monosyllables. June Gloom and Stay Strange are proof that, for every saccharine-sweet, knee-spreading love song that gets jizzed out by some of San Diego’s more well-known musical acts, there is a jaw-grinding torture basement soundtrack and ambient purgatory waiting room music hanging out in the wings.
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