The day started off with a certain air to it that I could tell would be hard to shake. By 5pm I wasn't sure if it would spiral towards the hell it seemed to be clamoring for, or if it might actually make an upswing and help a sister out. By 8:30 I was on my way to have a cocktail (always helpful in a purgatory situation) and starting to feel pretty good, all things considered. Just as I mounted my bike to meet my drink date, I got an ominous text, "There's some good bands playing tonight at Black Cat, you should come". Usually a Monday night doesn't warrant such insalubrious behavior, but I knew that if I caught a quick buzz in Mount Pleasant before heading down to the Cat, I'd not only be in for an assuredly good show, but probably an orgasm to boot. So I decided I wouldn't check the web for who might be playing and just say, "I might see you there".
TMI? Probably, but come on! What's rock n' roll without all the gritty details? The invitation came from a friend who only shares two interests with me - good tunes and great sex. Seriously. That being known, I figured if I went I could at the very least count on some pretty decent music and if not that, then something decent to make up for it. I arrived at the Black Cat just as the third and final band, El Ten Eleven, started their set. I sat calmly at the bar, recovering from my ride down the hill, and waited to see if I should make my way inward to the Backstage. I sipped my draught Pabst and listened to both the bar fly next to me ramble on about his flooded basement and the increasingly interesting sound emerging from the back. Being as I knew none of the details of the show, I assumed the make up of band were at least a quad if not sextuplet. From what I could make out, my mental check list heard a keyboardist, a bass player, one or possibly two guitar players, a drummer and probably some kind of trickster sound engineer or DJ. I could have built this up in my head because maybe I've just seen too many bands like the Freelance Whales and can't be counted on for what to expect anymore. Curiosity killed the conversation at the bar and I quickly made my way to investigate. Getting in free was a breeze, it was by then the end of the night and the chick at the door recognizes my face. I entered the little dark room and saw a sparse but intimate crowd excitedly watching a large projector screen positioned just-so behind the stage.
Hmm, I thought and begin to weave closer to the stage to find my friend and see what the hell was going on. What I found was amazement. This was no grand scale group but merely a duo! The footage displayed on the aforementioned projector screen consisted of the foot path of guitarist Kristian Dunn, who appeared to be entrapped by effects pedal kicks and various mixing toys. I began to realize what I was witnessing, that what I thought was several musicians seamlessly meshing their talent was in fact one man looping the sounds coming from a 1977 DB630 Double Neck bass/guitar (much like the ones Jimmy Page and Slash have been known to rip) and drummer, Tim Fogarty, who sat outside the swell of pedals furiously beating the drums as if at any point they might decide to get up and walk off stage beneath his tight grasp.
It was as if U2 had wrecked head on into Beck on the way to meet R2DJ and The Polyphonic Spree and the aftermath had exploded all over the stage into a massive instrument battle of the wits.
Did that just blow your mind? Good, now you know how I felt.
At some point I quit expecting lyrics and excepted that my usual claims to dislike instrumental music were obviously too narrow in scope. El Ten Eleven, dubbed by some as "Post-rock", sound like a marriage between experimental, pure rock, electronica and unadulterated raw talent. The double neck guitar/bass is officially one of the most awesome inventions ever. The man plays other instruments too while composing this symphony of sound, most notably several varieties of Fretless bass guitars and Whammy pedals. Fogarty sticks to well known drum-basics, though dresses them up real nice with his own set of looping tools and kick pedals.
This California duo is really something you should see to fully understand the complex and invigorating intonation that pours off the stage. To come full circle with both the reason I found myself in this place, imagine, if you will, describing an orgasm. All at once intimate and intense, humbling and holy, somehow static and yet totally surreal. To experience that full scale set of emotions in two completely different settings in one evening makes me feel one lucky girl. I hope to see them again because knowing that kind of talent is available reminds me why I will almost always say yes to an invitation to a show (or an invitation from this friend).