Friday, Nov. 3; 7 p.m.
Big Car Gallery
For some, the enduring image of “electronic music” is a sea of wide-eyed revelers bathed in strobe lights and lurching around a dance floor to jackhammer rhythms.
But, in fact, the reach of electronic music is broad enough to overlap with jazz, classical or almost any other style. That makes it fun but challenging for the folks behind Electronic Music Summit 2006 to assemble an entertainment lineup that hints at the genre’s range but also holds together as a cohesive night of music.
“A lot of people have an idea of what the term means to them,” says organizer Ryan Faubion, who works by day as a Bloomington-based graphic and Web designer. “There’s so much you can draw from.”
Now in its third year, the Electronic Music Summit has pared itself down while remaining true to its not-for-profit mission of recognizing innovative musicians and exposing listeners to their live, original work. Eight acts from four states will begin at 7 p.m. and continue until the wee hours, hosted by Big Car gallery in Fountain Square’s Murphy Arts Center.
The selected artists represent relatively subtle, experimental sides of electronic music, with sounds suited for listening as much as dancing. Though the acts range widely in mood, tempo and texture, most involve individuals or small groups who use samplers, synthesizers and other electronic gear to create music in real time.
“It’s based on performers and performance, not just dance music or a DJ,” says Faubion, a longtime jazz fan who now records and performs as the electronic artist Actuel, though he opted not to add himself to this year’s bill.
Electronic Music Summit was founded in 2004 by Indiana musician Scott Kellogg, who remains involved despite handing off much of the logistical work to Faubion, a native of Indy’s southeast side. Faubion’s plans for the event were nearly derailed this spring, however, by a surprise diagnosis of aplastic anemia, a condition in which the body fails to produce enough new blood cells. His battle with the condition prompted a postponement of the summit, originally scheduled for June.
Thanks to careful treatment, Faubion says he is slowly beating the disease without resorting to marrow transplants or other extreme measures. Still, the experience has taught him to appreciate life’s simple gifts. ‘It’s been interesting,” he says with a chuckle. “You just don’t think about blood.”
Offstage attractions will include displays of instruments and equipment available for viewing and tinkering, including a Moog-related booth manned by Indianapolis musician/educator Doug Babb, dubbed “The MIDI Guy” for his e- music prowess.
For a quick sample of Friday’s performers, check out the streaming audio clips at emusicsummit.com/media.
The Avett Brothers with guest Kit Malone and the American Arsonists
Saturday, Nov. 4; 8 p.m.Birdy’s Bar & Grill
Three guys with acoustic instruments might look like a bluegrass band, but that doesn’t sum up the Avett Brothers.
One of those rare “brother” bands that actually has some, the North Carolina trio is led by singer-songwriters Scott and Seth Avett, who draw deeply from obvious influences like mountain folk music but also infuse their tunes with the intelligence, heart and energy of rock and outlaw country.
The band — Seth on vocals and guitar, Scott on vocals and banjo and Bob Crawford on upright bass and vocals — will return to Indianapolis on Saturday at Birdy’s Bar & Grill. The special guest is witty local folksinger Kit Malone and his American Arsonists. Tickets are $12, and doors open at 8 p.m.
A hard-touring band known for intense shows, the Avetts are touting a new release, The Gleam, a collection of six songs that sometimes suggest the warm, eerie quality of Wilco or Will Oldham. The band prove themselves as comfortable with ballads in the studio as they are playing barnburners on stage.
Also, they like to tell stories. One Gleam tune, “Yardsale,” begins with a gentle croon and dark imagery:
I wonder if this blade ever ran
Through someone’s side
The blood wiped away to hide
How evil your grandfather was ‘fore he died
The Avetts have been prolific in their short life, issuing several albums since their 2002 full-length debut, Country Was. In February of this year, they released the 17-song Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions on the Ramseur Records label.
Saturday, Nov. 4; 9 p.m.
$16.50 advance; $18.50 day of show
Citizen Cope has apparently confused more than a few radio programmers – not to mention music fans – who struggle to pin down his music stylistically.
“I guess it’s been a blessing and a curse,” Cope said of his sound, which blends urban music and pop influences. “It has probably kept me away from a certain radio format. Also, it’s been a thing that’s kind of distinguished me. I think it’s kind of kept me away from mainstream popular music, but to me I’ve got a verse, a chorus and melodies and it’s essentially pop music.”
Don’t look for Cope to rein in his stylistic tendencies or dumb down his music to try to reach a bigger audience. “For me, I kind of get a little more pleasure out of testing people,” Cope said, noting that the topical slant of some of his songs may have scared off radio programmers.
“It’s like ‘Bullet and a Target,’ that song in itself, it asks a lot of questions, and that’s a single,” Cope said, pointing to a failed single from his second CD, the 2004 release The Clarence Greenwood Recordings. “I think it touches on issues of self destruction, of confusion or rebellion that … that kind of stuff might fly in New York. But everybody wants a John Mayer record in middle- America, so that’s what they’re going to get. They’re going to get the innocuous pop stuff that doesn’t really challenge anything.”
Cope said he realizes that the key for him is to keep touring and build a grassroots following with a live show he thinks brings a fresh energy to his music.
“On the last one (The Clarence Greenwood Recordings), I got to tour with my band and get tight and just start playing it and have it be about playing shows and not be about opening for somebody or doing a marketing kind of thing,” he said. “It was just about playing, and then there was a little momentum happening, and the momentum helps you. People come out and start hearing you. So I feel that way still, with this record, because there’s not any like mainstream thing going on with it. It’s like all word of mouth.”
Arrah and the Ferns, Collections of colonies of Bees, The Skies We Built, Megafaun, Lamps
Saturday, Nov. 4; 7:00 p.m.
Never missing a chance to talk to a Muncie band, I sit down with Carl Stovner from Arrah and the Ferns and learn about plantlife.
NUVO: You guys have such a unique sound. How did that happen?
CS: Really, it happened out of nowhere. When Arrah and I first got together, we were both listening to a lot of Iron and Wine. We thought (our music) was going to be more mellow, and then Dave started playing...
NUVO: How did you come together as a band?
CS: I moved here from Idaho in November, and right after I moved I started playing with a band that Dave was in. And I met Arrah at Village Green Records. We started hanging out, talking about playing together, and then one night, we decided (to play). We signed up for an open mic, went to her house and wrote two songs. It was amazing how fast it happened. And then we were like, “We should get Dave.”
NUVO: Any tour plans?
CS: Arrah and Dave are in school full time. And I work. So, we’re cutting our weeknight shows because those kill us. And actually, now we want to cut local shows too, so we don’t overplay (Muncie). We want to do more weekend things.
NUVO: How do you like being a Fern?
CS: (Laughs) It’s great. I love it, being in a band with Arrah and Dave. They’re both really creative. We three are pretty different in a lot of ways. Personality-wise, musically-wise. It’s cool. Like a three-legged table.
Tuesday, Nov. 7; 7 p.m.
Wrestling and manga never looked so good together. Witness the psychedelic insanity of New York punk-rockers Peelander-Z (www.peelander-z.com) firsthand. The colorful, self-proclaimed Japanese superheroes break the monotony of typical punk shows with bright skin-tight suits that match their guitars, human bowling, kung fu, dancing and other lively stage antics lost somewhere between the lines of Banzai and MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. Fueled with adrenaline and fearlessness, Peelander-Z plays rip-roaring, speed-crazed tunes crossing positive screams with screeching guitars and hyper drum pounding.
On tour for its new Happee Mania album, featuring “Nuts,” “Go Ape Go,” “Do the Laundry” and other odd tracks, the outlandish trio will rip you away from oncoming winter doldrums and send you to the Peelander planet for bouts of noise and silliness. Formed in 1998, the band has since performed in music festivals such as SXSW and Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. The extreme punkers have also been featured on MXC, Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade and on the Anime Network.
Antonio Kazuki (“Peelander-Blue”) hammers out heavy drum beats, Kengoswee (“Peelander-Yellow”) sings and cuts mean guitar riffs and K.O. (“Peelander-Red”) spurts out vocals and bass tones like a “romantic volcano,” also his nickname. Currently signed to the appropriately titled Eat Rice Records, the peppy trio has released four full-length albums, including Happee Mania, with lyrical themes ranging from stories about a “Bad-Chili Burger” and “Ping Pong Dash!!” to “Pun! Pun! Punk Rock!”
These boys are anything but boring and will keep you on your toes, despite their evident lack of songwriting brilliance. But the full package is well worth a look. So keep an open mind, practice your Japanese and roll down to the Ugly Monkey for an intimate meeting of the (insane) minds.
— Leslie Benson
Wednesday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.
A Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert is a rock opera experience like none other. “A fan described it best,” Robert Kinkel, one of the founders of TSO, told NUVO last year, describing a TSO concert. “It’s like seeing Phantom of the Opera, a Who concert and the lights of Pink Floyd all at the same time. And there’s a story element there.”
And snow. Snow falls gently from the rafters of Conseco Fieldhouse as bass lines pelt the audience and pyrotechnics singe the air.
TSO was both the top-grossing and best-attended annual tour of 2005, which is even more impressive given that the show only tours during the winter holidays.
Primarily made up of Christmas music from their albums Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Christmas Attic and The Lost Christmas Eve, the concert is a holiday staple that kicks you into Christmas cheer ’80s-style — let the long locks flow as heads bang in time to Christmas carols, metal-style. “We do Christmas Eve and Other Stories in its entirety, narrated,” Kinkel says, “and the second half is a straight-out rock and roll show, with songs from the other three CDs. We even preview a song from the album we are working on.”
That album, the forthcoming Night Castle, has been in the works for some time now, having been cited in interviews last year but with no release date in sight. Like TSO’s 2000 album, Beethoven’s Last Night, Night Castle will be made up of non-Christmas music. TSO’s non-holiday music is just as paradoxical and powerful. Check out their “Carmina Burana.”
For each concert ticket purchased, $1 will be donated to local charities.
For more information: www.trans-siberian.com.