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While normally you can pick out a few bands that might be analogs or "Recommended If You Like so and so," Learner Dancer is a little more difficult to pin down. Their music is a soundscape of distortion, pulsing rhythms, unidentifiable noises and the occasional identifiable, repeated theme that doesn't quite merit the term "hook," but that acts to give the track some structure.
According to guitarist Jesse Lee, of Pravada and formerly of Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Learner Dancer improvises most of their live performances.
"That's part of what I think helps sell our live shows," said Caldwell. "You go and see some bands and they play note-for-note from the album; I personally get a little bored with that."
At the same time, Caldwell says Learner Dancer's new LP due out very soon has a stronger pop sensibility than their previous recordings.
"That's always something I've been interested in, that sort of 'pop in disguise,'" he said.
With Peter King on drums and Lee and Duncan on guitars, this band is another intersecting point for the interlocking web of musical relationships, connections and side projects going on in this scene. To describe the music careers of Lee, another long-time Fountain Square resident, and King, formerly of The Impossible Shapes, would require another genealogical chart altogether.
Caldwell has played with all three Mediumship bands, as well as his friends' side projects Psychic Feel, Peter and the Kings, Holiday Girls and Church of the Infinite Space Ritual. He also books most of the Mediumship shows and helps with the booking for Cataracts Presents' shows - an offshoot of Jacob Gardner's Cataracts Festival - and runs his own cassette-only label Hermetic Tapes, with which he's collaborating with GloryHole for the upcoming label sampler album, FSDC Vol II.
As someone with his hands in a number of different projects, I figure Caldwell might be a good person to ask a persistent question I have: "What is the goal of all this?"
He's adamant that the fun lies in the process rather than the end result.
"All of us are flying by the seat of our pants; none of us really has any clue what we're doing," said Caldwell, "It's just a continuous learning process."
It's impossible to explain what's going on down here without bringing up FSDC, which stands for "Fountain Square Don't Care," the semi-official motto of some of those who live here. The phrase is everywhere, but tracing the it's origins and meaning is harder.
Most agree it started with Christian Taylor who allegedly used to shout "Fountain Square don't care!" when he and his friends would occasionally get harassed by the locals, back when free-wheeling artistic types stuck out like sore thumbs in this neighborhood. In that sense, it's a phrase that stands for defiance, individuality and the freedom to be weird.
"It's like, we can do what we want cause 'Fountain Square Don't Care,'" says King, who follows that up by saying he's not even 100 percent sure that's what it means.
Others say it stands for the somewhat insular nature of the Fountain Square life. Those who live here spend most of their time here, some even work here; for them, what's going on in other parts of the city ceases to matter.
Even others, like Lisa Berlin, say it's more of a phrase people use as a way of saying "No problem" when they are lending a hand to others in the neighborhood; it's a unifying statement that reminds people of the importance of community.
"We actually care a whole lot; sometimes it means Fountain Square Does Chores," she said with a laugh.
Whatever it is, it's important enough that GloryHole named its first tape compilation FSDC Vol. I, and the letters appear graffitied on people's garages and even tattooed on their bodies.
On Saturday night, legendary Indiana and Florida-based band The Vulgar Boatmen played to a crowd of about 150 people at Mediumship. After 20-plus years of touring, the band now only plays live three or four times per year. That they would turn up to play a house show in Fountain Square is a remarkable achievement for GloryHole and Mediumship.
Before their set, Vulgar Boatmen guitarist Matt Speake and I stood in the back yard to talk briefly, amidst a small sea of rock fans standing outside to smoke or just escape the heat inside the packed house. Speake looked at the crowd in the back yard and marveled at the level of support Mediumship could generate for such a show.
"Social media has just allowed such a high degree of organization," he said. "When I was these kids' age, we couldn't have done this."
Later, the Vulgar Boatmen played a set that lasted nearly an hour, despite an atmosphere inside the living room that felt like the inside of a sweat lodge. If anyone was putting any toxins into their bodies, they certainly sweated most of them out during the Boatmen's set. If not, Vacation Club took care of that, capping off the night with their own raucous hour-long set. Sweat visibly dripped off the band as they played; crowd members, both male and female, stripped off their shirts as they danced and howled.
Well after their set ended, as the crowd thinned out and the temperature inside the house started to cool off again, Shepard played the newly recorded and as-yet-unreleased Crys album from his laptop.
It felt like a sacred moment, an advanced screening, and so I stayed to listen.
As the pulsing sounds emanated from the speakers in the living room, a handful of people stopped by to listen here and there as Shepard paced, off to the side, in deep contemplation of the music and of people's reactions.
Brandon Jackson jumped and danced around the living room like a shaman giving his blessing. Sam Thompson stood nearby in the kitchen, hovering over the ice tub where he was chilling the night's last beer, as he and Christain Taylor discussed Vacation Club's new tracks. Jim Peoni passed through a few times, a pile of GloryHole T-shirts on his shoulder, looking slightly preoccupied but not so much that he couldn't flash Shepard a quick nod of approval.
The Crys album sounded tight. It will be the band's first solo release and the finished product will be something for which Shepard, Crys, Mediumship and all of this entire interlocking set of friends in Fountain Square can be proud. You can be assured they all played a part in one way or another.
Crys, Live from Cataracts
[Music] Punk + Metal
[Music] Jazz + Blues + R&B
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, Rock