New York - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 11 - 09/16/97
The Magic Eye Party
Threadwaxing Space, September 3rd 1997
On September 3rd, Damon and Naomi (Damon Krukowski and Naomi
Yang - ex-Galaxie 500, Magic Hour, and now simply Damon & Naomi - editor's
note) performed at NYC's Threadwaxing Space for the Magic Eye Singles
Shindig in honor of the illustrious Tom Rapp and Pearls Before
Swine (PBS). The party was held to showcase the release of Magic Eye
Singles' (MES) LP/CD For The Dead In Space (Interpretations of the
work of Tom Rapp and Pearls Before Swine) in conjunction with an opening
for artist Steve Keene (cool work - most notably responsible for
Pavement's Wowee Zowee, with what appears to be a take on an
early 70's Guru Guru lp sleeve).
Let me just say that this was quite an evening, and not one that I will
soon forget. What follows is a review of the evening's performances, the
aforementioned lp (each of the evenings artists are featured on the record,
as are many others including Flying Saucer Attack), and my personal
accounts of my meetings with Tom, Damon, and of course, Naomi (as well a
maybe a few others along the way). Like I said, this was an evening that I
won't soon be forgetting, so I have plenty to share. Also, It's not very
often that I, living in Sioux Falls, have the opportunity to attend such an
event. Well, I guess it's not very often that evenings of this caliber
even occur anywhere, let alone NYC. Terrastock in RI was most like the last,
and I'm sure Terrastock West in San Francisco will be the next.
I should mention that the show was held during CMJ week, which imo, is a
totally lame and geeky event. The Magic Eye party was not really part of CMJ
(only the first 100 badge-holders were privileged with toll free
admission), which was nice because those who were there ( *maybe* 200 at it's
peak?) were present for the right reasons. Very little talking, if any at all,
throughout the entire show. The first set began promptly around 8:00 P.M. and
Mr. Rapp set his guitar down just after the clock struck 3:00 A.M. Like I said,
quite an evening.
Alright, first up, Morning Cloak; similarly known as Stone Breath.
We didn't arrive until just a bit after 8:00 and the music had just started.
Promptly, we proceeded to catch a few seats in the back (the back was still pretty
close up. the seats were organized in a half-moon, using the shorter length of the
gallery's third floor loft.) and I was briefly introduced to Bob Bannister
of Tono-Bungay. I've been a huge Fire in the Kitchen/TB fan for years
- Tono-Bungay have recorded for Twisted Village one fantastic lp, as did Bob solo.
In addition to several smaller works on similarly minded labels and a recent split
10" with the Tower Recordings, another Twisted Village lp is due this fall from the
Village. Tono-Bungay's take on the PBS track Morning Song kicks off the tribute
record as well. OK, briefly back to Morning Cloak. Their set was pretty stunning. One
acoustic guitar, male female voices, wood flute, and jeez, there was something else.
Anyway, good set. Very folksy, in that old indian-pysch kinda way. I picked up a
single on MES and also Stone Breath's CD on Australia's Camera Obscura imprint (The band
is from Upstate NY however).
Next up was Carl Edwards. Now Carl is pretty much a traditional Country artist;
10 gal. Stetson and all. I do have the Hank Williams box set, but that's about it.
Carl played three numbers of just really good traditional music. Good voice and strong
songs. As his last song, Carl announced that each of the evenings performers would follow
suite with their final song being their contribution to the tribute record. Carl also gave
out free copies of his latest CD.
Following Carl Edwards was either The Townies, or Dave Rapp's (Tom's Son)
indie-pop band Shy Camp. I'm pretty sure it was The Townies.
Re: Townies. Well, everyone knows I'm quick to judge, I'll be the first to admit it, and
the Townies had me a bit skeptical before they even played a note. There's three of them.
Drummer, Guitar & Vox frontman, and keyboard/tape player. The drummer and guitarist were doing
the Dockers, shirt and tie thing; straight from work in D.C. Ok, I'm glad they came, but ditch
the damn shirts and ties fellas. I've ditched my suit for my running shorts to meet the group
after work or done the jeans and a simple pocket tee thing a thousand times in the car, while
still driving, couldn't they? But, it's only the music that matters, right? Well, the music was
pretty good, a welcome whoosh of guitar pop over the previous two folksy offerings, with punchy
and pretty well compelling drumming, but I had already written them off as just average, nothing
special, and this is what I remembered. The music reminded me of New Order with a bad mix
of A Certain Ratio circa 1986. Their PBS cover (especially sounding like bad ACR) was
(Oh Dear) Miss Morse which, surprisingly, I
just learned that Rapp's lyric dit dit dah dit spells fuck in Morse code. Rapp says
in the tribute's liner's (written by Terrascope's Phil McMullen) that love didn't work
rhythmically for the chorus. Alrighty then...
Now I believe it was Shy Camp. The band never introduced themselves, and it wasn't until their
third and final song that I figured out who they were. Again, had I know this was Shy Camp, who I
knew was Dave Rapp's band, I may have thought differently of them. Very, very indie-pop. I had
early Velocity Girl stuck in my mind, which I guess is fitting, considering SC will have
an lp on Harriet records. Dave Rapp looks incredibly young, but I guess he's got three years already
on me, so looks are deceiving ( I would have guess him to be maybe 19, I think he's 27). Not my kind
of music anymore, but they're pretty good. I particularly like their cuts on the tribute record.
Alright, next up was Tono-Bungay. I had spoken now several times with TB's Bob Bannister and had
already learned that they would be performing as just a two piece, minus a drummer (off shooting pics
in Africa or something like that). Bob's guitar is awesome, and Robert Dennis made some great noise
with his, and incorporated a bunch of found sound, as well as some fantastic rhythm tracks via a
turntable. Definitely cool, and definitely different than anything they've ever done yet on record
(typically, imagine a rough Bardo Pond, yet recorded before the first BP lp). Their last piece,
was, as I mentioned above, Morning Song / Footnote. I'm not familiar with Footnote, but
Morning Song is the main theme. Bannister started this out with some great strum, I wish the
record captured this, and this piece was great. Robert Dennis started playing that sample of Tom Rapp
saying "Clap if you think he's guilty" (in reference to Nixon). Very cool.
At this point, I got up to go introduce myself to Tom Rapp. If you looked over towards the "celebrity
room" you could see Tom standing there looking on as each band played. You could tell he was having just
a wonderful evening. I mean, this was *his* evening. These bands were only there because of him. Well,
I didn't want to interrupt, but I had told Tom if I had the opportunity, I would introduce myself. I was
having such a great time, good music, anticipation of what was yet to come (d & n, of course!), but
things couldn't have gotten any better after introducing myself to Tom. I stood next to him patiently,
listening intently to his casual
conversation with who turned out to be Wayne Harley
from the first three PBS records (he flew up
from Florida - hadn't seen Tom in 20 years - the others are all MIA with the exception of producer,
engineer Richard Alderson). Tom turned to me, smiled, I'm sure he noticed I was drooling and wished to
tell me to "swallow" as I extended my hand to introduce myself. D & N's April Terrastock performance?
Anyway, I ended up making a tape of Tower Recordings, Tono-Bungay, Bill Direen, and by
Tom's request, Bardo Pond. Well, It's always fun to place a face with someone who you have exchanged
email with, and it's even MORE fun to chat with in person someone who's music you totally love, so you
can imagine how excited I was. We talked about this and that, I asked a ton of questions, talked about
life in the Midwest (Tom was born in the neighboring state of North Dakota) and such. At one point he
asks me if I got in the door alright. "Huh?" Turns out Tom had put my name down on his "guest list"
for the show and had emailed me just after I had left for the airport - didn't get the mail until this
Monday. Wow. Was I ever flattered. Tom then says, "Wait here. I'll be back in a minute." Tom returns
with $12 cash and says "Here's your money back." I hated to accept it - totally unnecessary, but he
insisted. (i even paid at my own mt. goats show) Now, Tom notices that I had already purchased the
vinyl version of the tribute record and again says, "Wait here. I'll be right back." This time, he
returns with the CD version. "2 Extra tracks." Wow again.
Tom's about a nice a guy as you're going to meet ... friendly as he is brilliant. So we're still
talking, I'm probably still drooling a river (at one point, I saw the custodian eyeing where I was
standing - looking to mop things up quick before someone slips and hurts themselves, I'm sure), and
then I turn around as the door behind me opens. You know, that "celebrity refreshment" room I was
talking about? And guess who's standing in there? Damon and Naomi!!!! Tom obviously sees that they've
now grabbed my attention, and says, "Chris, follow me ... Guy's, I'd like you to meet Chris Severson
from SD ...." Triple wow. Now I'm talking with two of my favorite musicians, EVER, and have been
introduced by none other than Tom Rapp! I guess being from SD is some kind of novelty. The woman from
Rykodisk who was responsible for the box set actually happening brought up Mitchell SD's Corn Palace
(you guessed it. palace made out of corn. good for basketball games, you know? seats, what, 5000?)
and said she's been there a ton of times. I've only been there twice and it's an hour away. Then Damon
and I talked about the Black Hills, music in SD, Corpus Hermeticum releases, Wall Drug, you name it.
Well, now Tower Recordings are starting to play, so it's back to the show. We all head back out. I
still ended up missing most of Tower's set, unfortunately, as they're incredible. (Turns out my host
(ex- South Dakotan) is friends with them. met them later.) Oh, yeah, back with D & N, Tom takes my
lp and writes a bunch of stuff, then of course I had to ask D & N to sign it as well. "See you in the
Badlands" Damon wrote. That just may happen. I guess SD is only one of just a few states they have
never played. Can't have that, now can we?
I'm really getting tired of typing, I'm sure everyone's getting tired of reading. Next up. Masaki
Batoh, leader of GHOST, plays a solo acoustic set. Simply stellar. I'm just rediscovering
Ghost as I kinda wrote their PSF disks off long ago, silly me. Batoh played stuff off his two solo
records for Now Sound (on one CD too). Ok, well, D & N, D & N with Batoh, and D & N with Tom & Batoh
are yet to come. More review later ... hope I didn't bore everyone ...
Copyright © 1997 Christopher Severson