nadja @ vacation vinyl
Monday's in-store appearance from Nadja took place at Vacation Vinyl, which is only a half-hour's walk from where I live. The weather recently had taken a turn for the gray, so I grabbed an umbrella, stopped for some coffee, and trekked to Hollywood and Vermont. Upon arriving, I was immediately greeted with bad news- Skeletonwitch had played an in-store the day prior! FUCK!! I have the worst luck with that band. They played a "secret show" in the bar I worked in, and NO ONE TOLD ME, and I missed it!! I didn't have time to dwell on my misfortune, though, because Nadja started their set just as I arrived. The store seemed pretty cool, although small - about the same size as Aquarius Records. I took a spot right up front, next to one of the speakers, and although Aidan Baker was given permission to turn the volume up from the store clerk (owner?), it still wasn't loud enough to necessitate ear plugs. Over the course of half an hour, Nadja played three songs (I think), without breaking for applause. I recognized only one, though I'm not sure which release it was from. While it wasn't as loud as I would have liked, and although Nadja is not a particularly "theatrical" band, it was still a great performance, and perfectly suited for the overcast twilight outside the store.
The following night, Tuesday, was the official show. It turned out that my friends who were planning on coming were otherwise occupied, so I ended up going to the show by myself. I didn't mind though- I think that small avant-garde art gallery shows are pretty ideal for solo attendance. I showed up at the official start time, but the show was a little late in starting. The gallery owner/curator was playing Oval side-project So over the speakers, which is a great album. I was glad for that. Outside, rain came and went intermittently.
Aiden Baker did his solo ambient set first, and everyone took seats cross-legged in front of the stage. Much like the show at Vacation Vinyl, the volume was just loud enough for me to try putting in my ear plugs, but not so loud that I felt I needed them. The music was beautiful, melodically droney, and reminded me of Cliff Martinez's score for Solaris.
The next band was Pedestrian Deposit, who set up their equipment on the ground in front of the stage. I hadn't heard of them before the show, but ended up enjoying their set. The object you can see placed on the white stool was pretty interesting- it was something like the head of a broom made out of iron, or a miniaturized Stonehenge set in tall metal reeds. There was some sort of receiver placed on the underside, and the girl playing it plucked the rods, tapped the mini-obelisks and even used a bow to play it. The sounds it made were interesting, and created a feeling of cavernous disquiet over the thick background ambience. Equally compelling as the music were the extremely loaded glances that the members of Pedestrian Deposit exchanged throughout the duration of their set. The non-verbal interplay between the two seemed important, although I couldn't guess what it was they were communicating to each other.
I had run out to my car to check on something, and missed the beginning of Infinite Body's set (although I think not by much). His set-up was as unique and interesting as Pedestrian Deposit's had been- it seemed that most or all of the sounds he was generating were through a microphone, and heavily tweaked and modified. He would forcefully exhale or sing into the mic, and the results sounded almost like a bizarre melodica. His table was surrounded by colored lights that were set up to pulse and fade with the music, leaving the stage in darkness before exploding into illumination with the swelling drones. Infinite Body played two long songs, but declined to play a third- I was grateful, since my feet were asleep and I needed to go to the bathroom.
Finally, Nadja took the stage, set against a visual backdrop that showed Aurora Borealis-esque lights, vibrantly colored stalactites, psychedelic rapid-fire Rorschach tests, and cryptic runes. The result was mesmerizing, and I found myself spacing out for long, long stretches of song. Unlike the Vacation Vinyl store, there was no mic for vocals, and the volume was much louder. One again there were no breaks in between songs, and the heavy, body-vibrating drones seem to exist timelessly. By the time the show ended and the lights came on, I felt dazed, and staggered back out into the rain.