"You know, we're not opposed to applause," soundman Jeff DuPont deadpannedly tells the ten or so people gathered Saturday in a makeshift recording studio to hear Slothpop record a video session for the web outfit Laundromatinee. I bring my hands together briefly for an empty clap before realizing no one else is following, then try to pass it off as some kind of involuntary twitch.
Of course, no one claps in a recording studio - unless the Beach Boys happen to throwing a Party! - but these sessions for Laundromatinee, a video offshoot of My Old Kentucky Blog in the vein of Daytrotter or La Blogotheque, don't quite meet the sterile demands of the modern recording studio, so it's tough to know how to behave. They're being housed adjacent to the bar Locals Only in the middle of an unoccupied strip mall space, 15 feet into the building, behind a showroom that's nothing but concrete and drywall.
But the room where the studio is squatting is the pick of the building: it's carpeted, the walls are paneled with a lovely faux-wood, and it's the best place, sound-wise, for this setup restricted to the necessary minimum - a laptop, mixing board, a PA so the crowd might hear the vocals, a couple monitors.
Sterility and super-high-fidelity isn't the name of the game today at the Local Music Git Down. It's all about unity, as Craig "Dodge" Lile told me earlier at Locals Only, where 14 local bands and six DJs will perform today (with the bands also playing a Laundromatinee session next door).
Dodge could be called the mastermind behind the event - he founded My Old Kentucky Blog and was instrumental in launching Laundromatinee - but he has enough collaborators that he can lay back during the day, leaving DuPont (who has been running sound for MOKB studio sessions way back to when they were recorded in a high school classroom) and the fine people at Locals Only to manage both rooms for this show.
And Dodge has gone out of his way to invite like-minded organizations to sponsor the show, including this paper (refer to the ubiquitous poster online to check out the rest). This unifying event left out some organizations and bands, to be sure, but Dodge hopes to put on a concert like this every few months. And that sounds like a good clip: while the concert obviously took some effort to put together, it seems worth it; the show illustrates the breadth of the local music scene while giving those bands performing a chance for national exposure via the Laundromatinee session.
In the studio, Slothpop is in the middle of "We Are One," the best of the band's tunes. Lead singer Kristin Newborn, warmly clad in a scarf and leg-warmers, tips her head back and reaches into yodelling range, insistently and repeatedly singing the song's title (which emphasizes the day's theme of unity), before lowering into a more comfortable register where she can softly and melismatically coo over the band.
Newborn, who plays rhythm guitar, fronts a band comprised of electric violin, cello, a lead guitarist and a drum set. They've got a familiar sound - indie rock with a taste for classical accoutrements, in the vein of Andrew Bird or Animal Collective - which complements Newborn's voice quite nicely, complicating her riffs and vocals, swaying easily in a minor key, then interrupting that vibe with a staccato guitar riff or an intruding drum fill.
Slothpop is one of the two bands I'm here today to see, the other being Burnt Ones, an upstart three-piece fronted by Mark Tester of Thunders fame. They take the Locals Only stage early in the afternoon, another of the less-established bands that have been slated for the early-going. Tester calls for the maximum allowable allotment of reverb, and his attentiveness to the mix pays off - the band benefits from all the echo, which gives their sound a slurred, blown-out texture, which gestures towards proto-punk rock (The Ramones) and the more recent garage blues revival (The White Stripes).
It's a compelling pastiche, and the leather-jacketed Tester reminds me of Tom Verlaine, while drummer Amy Crouch - who's going for a super-primitive feel here, standing up and smashing on just a snare and tom - makes me think of Maureen Tucker and The Shaggs, with her rock aloofness and amateur enthusiasm. I think a set might do wonders for the group - style seems to trump substance in this case, for sure - but Brian Allen's bass affords a more complex backbeat, and their three-chord garage band sound can be infectious without much effort, just the right amount of swagger.
The schedule today calls for a band an hour, starting at 10 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. The show will go on until beyond 2 a.m. at Locals Only, where Nora Spitznogle will later report seeing puddles of beer on the stage during Thunders' closing set before a packed house.