October 16, 2014

The past week or so there has been a slight uptick in interest in the case of Lennon Lacy, a black high school student from a small town down east, south of Fayetteville. Back in August he left his house one evening & was found the next morning, hanging from a swingset. According to press coverage, the police seem eager to call it a suicide and be done with it.

It’s a mark of these strange times that all of the social media posts I have seen about the case have linked to this article from the Guardian [UK]. There may well have been other, more local coverage (I found this in the Indy, for instance), but somehow that Guardian article is what finally caught on, at least among people I follow on Facebook & Twitter.

The story itself is all kinds of sketchy, and horrible, and the fact that I could so easily believe that it’s a lynching being covered up is a whole nother kind of horrible on top of that. The past couple of years have been rough ones, in NC and all over.

Last night I drove to Carrboro to see tune-yards; my mood was elevated substantially before I even got there because I grabbed the Capstan Shafts’ Fixation Protocols to listen to on the way. Now that Guided By Voices have broken up again, maybe Dean Wells can finally have his moment.

tune-yards were amazing, of course. I’ve seen them three times (the only three times, as far as I know, that they’ve played the Triangle), and every time they’ve put on my #1 show of that year. Back in the day you’d go see them & it would just be Merrill and Nate, and she’d stand there before every song, tapping her loop pedals and building the entire rhythm track for each song from scratch.

Nowadays you go see them and it’s Merrill and Nate and a drummer and two backup singers, and she *still* manually constructs the underpinnings of every song live, in realtime, using her loop pedals, before they play it. Only now she has to do it – all of these amazing syncopations & polyrhythms & self-harmony vocal layers– while 600 people in the audience are trying to clap along in straight 4. Or yelling “I love you! Marry me!” over & over.

The music is so funky and the politics are so upfront and the joy onstage is so totally overflowing. I’m not as enamored of the latest album as I was of the first two, but in a live context, all of the studio noodling falls away and they mostly turn into mega dance jams. (Still iffy on “Water Fountain,” though – kind of surprised that it was one of the biggest crowd-response hits of the night.)

Abigail Nessen-Bengson, Merrill Garbus, Jo Lampert – photo by instagram user designofeye

Weirdest moment: backup singers/dancers Jo & Abigail had this squishy picture frame, and between songs Abigail was holding it up for Jo to pose in. Jo struck this incredibly emotional & sad face – it went well beyond goofing, & looked like she’d tapped into some real depth of sorrow all of a sudden – and then suddenly she toppled over. Passed right out for a second. 

They got her offstage, and Merrill & Nate did a song or two in duo format, and then later in the set she seemed to be fine. Fatigue & stress are weird things; people who think performing on tour is an easy gig are just so totally wrong.

Anyway. Lives weren’t ruined, and neither was the show, and we all left on a high note.

In the car on the way home I listened to Big Science. Perfect segue (and totally apropos). 

Although mostly I found myself wondering whether there has been a remaster since the mid-80s CD version that I own. Like, maybe one with at least some low end?

October 16, 2014