After years of liking Hazy Loper but not getting a chance to see them, I’ve gone from famine to feast, at least as an audience member. This show marks the fourth time I’ve seen them in a little over a year. If you’re bored and like reading my amateur ramblings, peruse my reactions to the other three times here, here, and here.
It has been some time since I last knocked upon the Lost Door. In fact, this was only my second time crossing this particular threshold. The first time was to see Hazy Loper member Patrick Kadyk’s other band, Ruby Howl. I’m not sure of the current status of Ruby Howl – they released a pair of albums while Hazy Loper was lying fallow, but now that Hazy Loper is running riot again, I think Ruby Howl is no longer a growing concern.
The occasion for this evening was a joint art show between Scot Velardo and Patrick Kadyk’s late brother, Peter. There was a time during the nineties and early naught-y decade when their styles converged, so the show made sense, aesthetically speaking. The affluent amongst the audience had the opportunity to take home a piece or two, at least if they fancied Velardo’s pieces. Most of Kadyk’s artwork wasn’t for sale. I got there at the posted start time, which of course meant that I was actually more than an hour early, so I got a good chance to wander around and look at the art. I don’t pretend to be an art critic, so I won’t weigh down this already wordy account with too much extra baggage, but I was really taken with a number of pieces; some for their use of color, some for their visceral emotion, and many because they simply jumped out at me. I took a few pictures, which don’t do the paintings justice (do photos ever?), but serve to at least give an idea. The longer I sat, the more I noticed, but isn’t that usually the case?
Since Jeanine was working, I had driven up alone (one of these days she’ll actually be able to see Hazy Loper – she has been otherwise occupied all four times so far), but shortly before the live entertainment part of the evening began, my friend Sheila and her partner Eugene wandered in. Sheila played drums for Hazy Loper at the Secret Alley record release show last year, but this time she was attending as an audience member. There were also at least a couple of dogs in attendance. I’m not sure if they were there for the art or the music.
First out of the starting gate was Richard Loranger, who revealed that he was going to read us a short story about walking in Brooklyn. He proved to be a fervent follower of Bootism (say it out loud – it’s funnier that way) and the poetic thrust of his storytelling quickly pierced the heart of what it’s like to walk in a big city. He mentioned Tolkien as an early inspiration to walk, which is a coincidence because just this week I finished my Tolkien-inspired walking challenge to walk 1,779 miles (the distance the hobbits traveled in The Lord of the Rings trilogy), which took me slightly over three years. So yeah, I’m a fervent follower of Bootism too. As an encore, Loranger read a short poem that he described as a rain chant. So far, it hasn’t worked. I see sun and a few wispy clouds out my window as I type these words. He claims that past recitals have resulted in deluge.
In short order, Loranger gave way to Sir Reidmoore Bookes (say it out loud – it’s funnier that way) from the far off land of Philadelphia. Bookes (who seems to keep a low profile here on the internet, so no link - too bad, because I'd definitely buy some of his music if I knew how) accompanied himself on electric guitar, and his playing was both fluid and melodically pleasing. He sang in a voice both deep and cutting, which makes him sound like a surgeon, but those are the adjectives that spring to mind. Song titles like The Gentrification of Hell (dedicated to San Francisco, which Bookes hadn’t visited since the late nineties), not to mention a lyrical well of dark humor, brought forth chuckles. He also played a raucous cover of Patrick Fitzgerald’s Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart, which made me want to further explore Fitzgerald’s music. I know I’ve heard this particular song before, but I can’t remember where. As I type, YouTube is providing me with a Fitzgerald fix. Good stuff in a folk punk sort of way.
In addition to his guitar-based songs, Bookes played a song he’d written for music box, which involved cranking a perforated strip through the tiny mechanism while balancing it on top of his guitar. The first time through, it wasn’t amplified enough, and noise from the talking people around the entrance obscured it somewhat, but he played it a couple of more times to better effect. The beauty of writing a song this way is that in reality, it’s more than one song. Running the strip through the crank upside down and backward rewards the audience with different results. After all was said and sung, the two musicians that Bookes brought to mind were Joseph Porter (of Blyth Power fame) and Tony Wakeford (of Sol Invictus fame). If one were to take Porter’s witticisms and eccentric vocal style and mix it with Wakeford’s dark humor and sense of melody, one might get a result somewhere in the neighborhood of Bookes. That said, he didn’t really sound like either of them. It was more like he embodied their essence. I would have purchased some music had any been available.
Hazy Loper played next. As with the record release show last year, the band was joined by Peter Whitehead and Norman Rutherford of Closer to Carbon, fleshing them out to a five piece. The set was similar to the other times I’ve seen them, kicking off with their historical mini-epic about San Francisco, Last Night of the Earth, and following it with Sure Ain’t Dead, which Kadyk revealed to be about his brother. They also played Yanka’s Lament, about a Russian chanteuse who either committed suicide or was killed in early the early nineties somewhere in Siberia, and the relatively non-depressing Easy.
There were the usual covers as well, starting with their excellent, stomping version of Guns of Brixton (originally by the Clash). Treadle Of the Loom (by Matty Luv/Hickey), and Gypsy Wife (Leonard Cohen) also made appearances, and both were excellently performed. Take a song written by anybody, then run it through the Hazy Loper filter, and it sounds like a Hazy Loper song.
On an occasion or two, electric piano player Davenzene Hayes jumped from his instrument to Peter Whitehead’s drum set, while Whitehead took up an electric guitar. Rutherford played saxophone and clarinet (if memory serves), but mostly stuck to his homemade (by Whitehead, I think) gimbri bass. Patrick Kadyk and Devon Angus on banjo and acoustic guitar respectively, used their pleasantly weathered voices to regale us with tales of the past. On the last song, the quintet briefly became a sextet with the addition of Tim White (am I remembering his name correctly?) on sax.
They wrapped up their set by playing one of Peter Kadyk’s songs, called The Porch (if memory serves). It was gentler, sounding very much like it could have been composed on a back porch somewhere. There was a backwoods, country vibe to the melody and lyrics.
As always, the music of Hazy Loper yanks the listener out of the present and unceremoniously deposits said listener way back in some ill-defined time before, when people lived storied lives full of mystery, and modern technology hadn’t yet swept away much of the darkness and uncertainty of day to day existence. In honor of this, I present my accompanying photos in archaic black and white with a touch of sepia tone here and there. Color is a mystery to be revealed in some future time.
How does one top off such an excellent evening? With a brass band, of course! Environmental Encroachment (or EE, as they’re called), are a brass band from Chicago, currently on a tour which started in the Pacific Northwest, and apparently shedding members as they go. Still, it looked like there wouldn’t actually be room for an audience if they played inside, so they eventually decided to perform in the middle of the street.
So, illuminated by the fire pit and the street lights, that’s exactly what they did. The beginning of their set was ushered in by the blast of a truck horn, so perfectly timed as to seem intentional, and then EE did their best to shift the melancholy mood of the previous bands into something a little more upbeat. That said, they did perform one more somber piece in honor of the departed Peter Kadyk.
People danced in the street while trombones, saxophones, clarinets, French horns, snare drums, xylophones, tuba, a carrying case played like a cajon, and various other odds and ends called up a joyful, celebratory racket. See a brief video clip below.
After awhile, they took a break, and I decided it was time for me to call it a night. Too much happiness tends to mellow my harsh. Plus, I wanted to make sure I got some sleep because the following day I was going to Mayhem Fest. What a strange genre-hopping musical weekend.
Now, I just have to get off my butt (or more precisely, stay on my butt) and write about Mayhem Fest... Soon.