free jazz marinara, BKLYN-folktified

For an interlude, they made cat and dog fighting sounds: barking and mewling interpreted by a little hollow-bottom drum and the squealing mouth of the violin player, respectively. This occurred after several seconds of cacophony, a great clamor of drums, guitar, piano, Apple laptop, lap-steel stringed guitar device, alto saxophone, with its lovely low baying. After which the players, eight of them or nine if you count the computer, sang loud in the same style of loud-sanging one might expect from a drunken bachelor party in 1632 Ireland, or from the Pirates of Penzance—all shifty harmonizing and shambling cameraderie.
And now back to their name, which I still find unfortunate. Their name, it is Stars Like Fleas. I am mostly able to forgive this because they are one of my favorite New York bands, and perhaps there is some significance I do not know. They are a free jazz/ post-form band of melody makers, they seem very serious, serious meaning they have possibly studied their instruments in some formal capacity. It’s like the Picasso effect–one must learn to draw simple figures in order to become a brilliant cubist. nah mean. I do not know if this is true, if they have studied formally, but their drummer is as good as any in a John Zorn docudrama. And yet they are not overbearing or overly stoic, their ease and onstage familiarity feels like being invited to the family dinner, with its rambunctious love and long-running jokes. Like someone might throw a spaghetti at you to see if it sticks. Like high art/populist in harmonium. I will have to see them more to put them in historical context, other than the context of “making me happy”
And here is a bit of rage (a thread of rage dangling from a very large loom of it): the opener. It will always amaze me that some of the most inoffensive bands–bands who rely heavily on PATIENT LOOPING and a tirade of crescendo/decrescendo–bands that make beauty for the sake of itself– who sustain two notes on melodica for a whole minute until they very gingerly roll out the next drone, all on your life’s time—I have one lifetime!!–and yeah, I know all about deep listening, dog, so do not front–it is these bands whose fans are prepared to GO TO THE FUCKING MAT w.r.t. audience members who are not sufficiently reverent and solemn while said bands are playing—even though the show is in a fucking bar.
POINT: Somewhere by song two, a man at the back screamed at the audience, to SHUT UP, SHUT UP!!!, viciously, as though he would slice open the belly of any person infringing on his enjoyment of this aggressively relaxing, atmospheric music. He shouted this just as the guest cellist was plucking her bow along the strings, producing a sound that mimicked the gentle cries of the bottlenose dolphin.
(Full disclosure: I have listened to and possibly enjoyed the albums of this opening band, charles atlas. i definitely, mos mfing definitely do not need to be watching them play live, ever. & the guest cellist, greta cohn of cursive/goodlife/bright eyes, was actually the best part of the show, with her excellent technique and actual melodies.)

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One Response to free jazz marinara, BKLYN-folktified

  1. b8a says:

    their drummer was my BFF in HS. he also gigged with the whole Parker/ Shipp/ Daniel Carter axis up here. haven’t seen SLF though, mostly cuz their name…

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