Plugging into Grass Roots at Green House
Big rooms, slick clothes, and pricey intermission drink prices have their place, but I thought I should get out to shows organized by smaller, less tightly knit groups, where the filters are off and the experimentation is on. I also thought that I’d seen lots of fiddles and horns, so it might be worth finding a show where there’s more plugged in than the announcer’s microphone.
I’ve covered a number of events over the last few months put on or sponsored by large arts organizations in and around Austin. These groups tend to have significant financial backing, (in “arts dollar” terms, that is) are typically frequented by a particular crowd, and have their own ebb and flow. Big rooms, slick clothes, and pricey intermission drink prices have their place, but I thought I should get out to shows organized by smaller, less tightly knit groups, where the filters are off and the experimentation is on. I also thought that I’d seen lots of fiddles and horns, so it might be worth finding a show where there’s more plugged in than the announcer’s microphone.
I took a drive north through the downtown streets and a few shucks and jives later found myself at the Green House, a funky little boutique that happens to have a tremendous backyard and a stage. As I walked through the shop and out into the backyard, I found myself in an environment that felt decidedly “Austin” to me. Complete with makeshift bar, mismatched chairs, and a few industrial thimbles for tables, the vibe could not have been more spot-on. A cadre of the tattooed and pierced mingled with folks from the neighborhood as Eli Good ran tests for his first set and, after a few squeaks and squawks, we were underway. Set up on a small table topped with the ubiquitous Macbook Pro, Good’s syncopated beats mixed with a stuttered bass groove that was one part club, one part jet engine from a distance. The jet bass was slowly granulated, becoming less and less defined as a second voice burst like wind chimes through the texture. It was tough to tell if these chimes were re-purposed from the granulated bass or a completely separate instrument, but the contrast between the initial signal and the chimes was striking. The chimes swirled around briefly before getting sucked back into the jet-engine mix, which as it drew to a close, was considerably closer and threatening to land right on top of us. The second piece began similarly with the manipulation of a simple texture which slowly developed into a large, dense mass, giving the impression of a huge, chugging Motown bass mixed with a church organ. Good controlled dynamics, loops, a variety of envelopes, and other parameters in real-time as the ghosts of James Jamerson and Earl Van Dyke traded fours.
1. And at least one guy whose skateboarding skills were about as strong as his ability to chat up the girl at the bar. Who skateboards on grass?
2. For a super-detailed definition of granulation (including granular synthesis) go here, but basically it’s visually comparable to pixilation. Also, you can check out this example of Neo screaming from the Matrix. It starts fairly clean and becomes less focused and more granulated through the scream.
3. This actually was a bit distracting for yours truly. When my sister had surgery as a kid, the hospital had a few video games that you could play for free. I played a lot of Dig Dug.
4. It was around this point that captain skateboard tried to sync his ollies with the pulse of the submarine, with varying degrees of success.