So, you heard about this show. It’s a band you’ve never heard of put on by an organization you’ve never heard of but you’re new to the university and looking for something to do instead of your homework. The show is some experimental punk band at a grungy bar near downtown and you decide to really live the part. You throw on your roommates combat boots, the denim jacket you spent insane amounts of money on despite its second-hand nature, and your most contradictory “nerdy-cool” pair of glasses.
The Uber driver was chatty but you were too concerned with anticipation and slight paranoia at attending an event alone to care. You pull up to a small brick building with big windows flooded with posters and upcoming show announcements all beneath a sign that reads “New Brookland Tavern.” You pull open the heavy wooden door, pay the small cover and… hmm… it’s smaller than you expected, but maybe that fits the vibe.
Passing a merchandise table crowded with college students, you walk into a more open area with a bar, pool table, and a small stage. It’s nearing show time so you decide to claim some standing room as you see a man in a long dark robe begin to set up his act. In the corner of your eye, you see a fog machine and your anticipation grows.
The man announces himself as “Baggageklaim” and you listen as a low sound begins to swell. You stand entranced by the monastic low electronic tones of the first act and as the stage clears your curiosity floods. After a brief sound check, you see a three-person band called “Pray for Triangle Zero” fill the room with a haze from both their fog machine and their sound.
By the Time the main act of “Machin3Gir1” begins their setup you’re equally confused, scared, and excited. An almost hazardous looking drum kit is moved to the front rim of the stage and a man sets up a small laptop on a table in the floor space beneath it. He wraps a tight grip around a microphone, sends one look to the drummer (already sweating) and suddenly your ears are impaled by the sharp force of a harsh beat. Before you can adjust to the impact of sound the singer, creator, mastermind you later learn is Matt Stephenson, has crossed the room jumping, climbing, falling, and writhing on every conceivable surface. His movements are claimed by a ferocity that is only outmatched by the violence and precision of his accompanying drummer. Every time a song stops, the abrupt change in atmosphere tilts your balance slightly and you end up slumped against the wall to counteract your inner ear but also to escape the unpredictable acrobatics of the performer.
When the show reaches its end, you stare for a second, quickly forcing your face into a casual and effortlessly cool expression to suggest “yeah I’m cultured and watch stuff like that all the time.” You slowly walk back towards the entrance and hear an enthusiastic voice from the merchandise table ask how you liked the show and if you were interested in joining WUSC.
Written by Ellen Jones