Category Archive

*Note: the below discussion does not reflect the opinions of all WNUR members. What follows is one DJ’s recap of the festival. “We” does not refer to all WNUR members present at Pitchfork; WNUR members did not see all of the same performances.

SATURDAY

Despite a brief but perilous afternoon storm, Saturday was arguably the best day of Pitchfork. Best performances of the day included Sleater-Kinney, Kurt Vile, and early afternoon standout Bully. We kicked off the afternoon around 2pm with a killer set by the latter Nashville-bred breakout act. Bully gave a high-energy, technically sound performance; lead singer and frontwoman Alicia Bognanno drove the music and banter with some serious Riot Grrrl-influenced wailing and lyrical content. We spotted her sidestage the next day, eagerly soaking up Kathleen Hanna’s legendary presence during The Julie Ruin’s set–another standout of the weekend–and providing further evidence of the band’s punk-feminist inspiration.

The rest of Saturday’s lineup was stacked with good music, and we had a hard time deciding where to compromise. We first journeyed to the Green Stage for Future Brown, where we spotted WNUR alumnus and former Streetbeat Music Director Nick Harwood–one of the group’s managers–scurrying about comically backstage. He blew a kiss from the back corner as three of Future Brown’s four members (Nguzu Nguzu’s NA was absent) approached the CDJs. The performance was disappointingly mediocre. There’s not a whole lot to see when three people man two CDJs (I can only imagine what it looks like with 4 of them) and it seemed that J-Cush was heavily dominating the mixing. Asma Maroof and Fatima Al-Qadiri bounced around half-heartedly and exchanged whispers for most of the set. To make matters worse, an unidentified group of rappers came on stage to perform one collaboration but ended up staying for five or more songs. The squad clearly lacked experience and stage presence; they acted as poor hype-men (adding little originality and leaving large gaps of silence) and took superfluous selfies until Harwood made the move to vacate them from the stage. Suffice to say that chunk of time seriously impacted the overall vibe of the performance. One of the show’s saving graces came from Sicko Mobb’s arrival and performance of their Future Brown collaboration, “Big Homie,” and the Chicago bop classic “Fiesta.” Sicko’s arrival marked the only time that the three members of FB appeared to be genuinely enjoying themselves, despite the fact that Sicko Mobb are unforgivably obvious lip-syncers. The poor sound quality of higher frequencies and the group’s decision to omit Maluca-featured banger “Vernáculo” ensured that the performance was decidedly average.

After Future Brown, our group parted ways. A few headed to the Red Stage for Ex Hex while the rest imbibed in VIP (thanks, Pitchfork!) and awaited Vince Staples’ slot. Our revelry came to an abrupt halt when the sky caved from tense humidity, unleashing sheets of rain onto festival-goers. Attendees ducked under umbrellas while promotions tent staff tossed a variety of branded ponchos to people running desperately for cover. I spotted Shamir, who had been bopping around the festival quite conspicuously all day, sprint into VIP with his hands over his head and his pink button-down clinging to his adolescent body. What at first appeared to be a brief bout of flash floods quickly became a dangerous thunderstorm; a friend walked away from the beverage tent with two beers in hand and reported that the festival was closing (she wanted to get her money’s worth of alcohol before then). Union Park became chaos as people stormed the exits while others huddled under trees and umbrellas–two of the worst places to stand during a thunderstorm. We managed to collect our friends and escape just before the sky cleared and Pitchfork announced that the festival would re-open in a mere twenty minutes. In the interim, I was interviewed by Fox News, Chu did the Nae Nae in the background to the chagrin of the interviewer, and we unsuccessfully attempted to dry our socks in a bathroom hand dryer and have a drink in Kaiser Tiger across the street.

Though the first half of his set was cut short by weather, Kurt Vile put on one of the best performances of the weekend. Three long and well-chosen jams–”Walkin’ On A Pretty Day”– lulled the audience into post-rain trance and brought our spirits up despite muddy, squishy socks. We hung around on the Blue Stage for the next three sets, catching the very end of Ariel Pink and most of (a forgettable) A$AP Ferg and Shamir. I had high hopes for Shamir, and they weren’t necessarily betrayed; the young artist put on a good show with great stage presence, and it was clear that he had a lot of fun. But his age was evident in his vocal control, which could use a bit of maturing and development for a fuller sound (not his fault; staff also struggled with soundcheck and delayed his set by about 45 minutes, which might have something to do with it). As we grooved to Shamir’s dancey beats, we got word that Sophie had been delayed in New York by the storm and would be replaced by Towkio. Sophie had been one of our most anticipated sets of the day, but we tried not to be discouraged by the news even though the chosen replacement act essentially rendered Pitchfork a Savemoney circle jerk. We headed to the Green Stage for a close spot at Sleater-Kinney instead. As much as I appreciate Chicago’s own Vic Mensa, the lady rocker trio has my heart.

They did not disappoint. Years of experience on stage and as a group are evident in these seasoned musicians. As it was at their February Chicago show, Sleater-Kinney’s sound was clear and their timing tight. Corin Tucker’s voice still hit those beautifully agonizing wails and Carrie Brownstein’s held up lyrically, too, though it sounded a bit worn and gravelly when she spoke. The band mostly played songs from their acclaimed January release “No Cities To Love” (sadly omitting our album favorite “Gimme Love”), including the title track, which Brownstein coincidentally wrote in a hotel room in Chicago. Of course, the group sprinkled some older hits in between–stealing our hearts, for example, with 1997’s despairing “One More Hour” off of Sleater-Kinney’s third studio album, “Dig Me Out” (whose title track they also played). The duet is an homage and farewell to Brownstein and Tucker’s brief but evidently passionate former romance. It continues to be one of the most moving breakup songs on the market (in my opinion), and it’s undoubtedly a unique experience to watch the two share their mutual personal experience through performance. That they got through their breakup without letting it ruin either their musical chemistry or friendship–as demonstrated by the fact that they wrote a song about it, which they continue to play 18 years later–gives the track an even weightier presence.

The show wasn’t all angst, though. The cisfemale trio seemed to be having a grand old time on stage; spirits were high and smiles plentiful as they attacked their instruments in brightly colored dresses. Drummer Janet Weiss carried the performance with incredible precision. Brownstein, notorious for spastically jerking around stage with her guitar and wieldy limbs, threw one leg kick too high during “Ironclad” (ironically, as Corin sang the words “you will fall the hardest”) and went down hard with the momentum. Yet she didn’t miss a beat (or a chord) and rebounded upright with graceful finesse–she even threw in another post-slip kick for good measure. The whole wipeout happened so fast that it was easy to miss. The band’s energy propelled the performance forcefully onward. Suffice to say that S-K was the perfect end to a rollercoaster of a day, and by many accounts the best set of the weekend.

*Note: the below discussion does not reflect the opinions of all WNUR members. What follows is one DJ’s recap of the festival. “We” does not refer to all WNUR members present at Pitchfork; WNUR members did not see all of the same performances.

The sun hauled itself into the sky with a vengeance on Friday morning of Pitchfork weekend, bringing with it a thick humidity that signaled the first real day of Chicago summer. The thousands who streamed into Union Park late Friday afternoon happily endured muggy air and relentless heat in favor of the forecast’s predicted weekend-long thunderstorms (which, as it turned out, appeared in full force for a brief but perilous hour on Saturday afternoon). Friday’s mellow lineup and shorter setlist–presumably designed to accommodate the work schedules of Pitchfork’s young professional demographic–provided a pleasant relief from the day’s unexpected high temperatures, gently easing festival-goers into the long weekend.

Entrance lines were inexcusably long but moved quickly as attendees trickled in from the Green L line. We arrived just after 4pm to catch ILoveMakonnen for our first set of the festival. We were skeptical from the outset, and Makonnen met our expectations by giving one of the less memorable performances of the weekend. Crowd teasers were scattered between indistinguishable crooning; Makonnen pulled the all-too-predictable move of playing his hit, “Tuesday,” last (after pulling the also-predictable move of pretending to start playing it two other times during his set). The highlight was easily “I Don’t Sell Molly No More”–and though it’s up for debate whether he actually performed that song better or we just loved the song to begin with, Makonnen’s most sonically unique production was a refreshing break in an otherwise monotonous set.

We dashed off to Steve Gunn–whose performance I had missed at Big Ears–before Makonnen’s set ended and prepared ourselves for a subsequently more rock-oriented evening. We heard the opening riff to “Tuesday” trailing behind us as we settled briefly in the warmth of Gunn’s pensive melodies. I wished we were able to give Steve the time he deserved as we stage-hopped to Red for Mac DeMarco, whose physical build had grown in proportion to his fan base. I barely recognized the burly singer–a far cry from the skinny 22-year-old on the cover of 2. I could hardly see him over the vast crowd anyway, but his music proved perfect (as ever) for sunset on a summer Friday.

Friday on the whole proved somewhat unsatisfying in its length and scheduling. Some of us had previously agreed that we thought the first day hosted the least interesting lineup of the weekend, and numerous overlapping time slots made it difficult to experience (and thus make a proper assessment of) any full performance. Our small squad–which did not consist of all WNUR members present at the festival–drifted to the Green stage and sat in the grass, disappointed that we missed the better half of Mac DeMarco’s set. I half-heartedly engaged in Panda Bear’s performance amidst our dialogue; my interest was driven more by nostalgic curiosity than genuine engagement. He sold out every show I wanted to go to in high school, yet I was not impressed. I wondered whether my musical taste had changed so drastically or Panda Bear’s music hadn’t changed (read: developed artistically) enough over the years. Jaded by Iceage and uninspired by endlessly overhyped CHVRCHES, we spent most of the next hour catching up with friends and WNUR alumni. We were so absorbed in each other’s company that we missed Ought–one of my few regrets of the weekend–but it was well worth the laughs. By the time we collected ourselves, Wilco’s homecoming set ricocheted through the trees and the sun drooped below the horizon, spent from the day’s efforts. We wandered through the thick crowd and towards the exit. I surprised myself with my ambivalence about hanging on to every note of Wilco’s set (and I’m sure many of my co-DJs felt otherwise); they were another of my high school favorites. But a few songs were enough to satisfy my desire. The intimacy (or lack thereof) of the massive crowd was alienating, and I couldn’t help thinking I’d rather see drummer Glenn Kotche performing alone.

             Art Friends

This past Spring Break, seven Rock Show DJs ventured into the heart of Knoxville, TN for Big Ears music festival. Check out these recaps of their experiences!

Kronos Quartet: 40 Canons with Bryce Dessner

The official Big Ears schedule for Sunday early afternoon told us to expect Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq at The Square Room, so when Bryce Dessner walked on stage instead, a large portion of the crowd was genuinely surprised. It took us all a minute to accept the fact that we were about to watch a meticulously composed arrangement rather than a visceral, bodily performance. Despite the initial shock, I was enthusiastic about seeing Dessner.

The first piece sounded disappointingly like a string quartet covering a National song, but other pieces ventured into territories not explored on any National record. While his compositional style still shone through in his use of repetitious phrases and a minimalism-inspired climatic song structure, ‘40 canons’ showed a playful side of Dessner usually masked by the sombre vibes of The National. Dessner joined the quartet on stage with his guitar to play this piece. The five of them exchanged shy smiles of friendship throughout the show. This was quite a charming performance. -JPM

 

Terry Riley with Gyan Riley & Tracy Silverman

 

Time was short on Sunday, so our final hours were carefully planned out: we’d catch the first 30 minutes of Kronos Quartet’s intimate performance with Tanya Tagaq at the Standard–those of us who missed Tagaq’s mind-boggling solo show on Saturday were eager to see what we were missing–before travelling swiftly across town to witness the rare talents of composer and legend Terry Riley.

Riley was scheduled for a two hour set from 4pm to 6pm at the Knoxville Museum of Art. With a strict departure time of 5pm and a ten hour drive ahead, our schedule was tight and anticipation was high. Of course, Kronos pulled a fast one at the last minute and switched the ordering of their set times without announcement: it became clear as they took the stage that Bryce Dessner would join the quartet for the first half, and Tagaq would follow.

If our intuitions were correct, Tagaq and Riley now filled directly conflicting time slots. And as the final notes of Dessner and Kronos resounded through the auditorium, the seven of us were confronted with an existential crisis: Riley’s performance would begin in minutes, Kronos had exited stage temporarily (with Tagaq’s presence still uncertain), and our departure time loomed ever nearer. Which performance to attend?

This was a question to be individually determined, of course, and the consensus was split. I concluded that Riley would probably pass away before I had the opportunity to see him perform again. Intrigued as I was by Tagaq’s throat singing, I have a history with Riley’s music and infinite admiration for his influential work. I scurried over to the KMA with Stephen and Jenna while the rest waited for Kronos to reappear with Tagaq.

Gentle cycles of piano, guitar, and violin washed over us as we entered the museum. We descended into a cavernous hall, towards the sound source, and I felt comforted by the familiar minimalism cascading down the stairs with us. A shiver flowed through my body as we approached the stage. Riley sat at the piano clad in a tunic, vest, Taqiyah cap, and his ever-magnificent beard. The audience was composed primarily of older folks and more children than we had seen all weekend, but the overall turnout was surprisingly sparse. Listeners sat quietly at the foot of the stage, some standing in the back or on the sides, dispersed loosely throughout the space. As we took a seat on the floor and settled into the present moment, my extremities tingled with mixed emotion–an effect I sometimes experience when listening to Riley’s compositions. Piano riffs meandered meaningfully over the walls and back over themselves and I was enveloped in sound. I closed my eyes. Lost in relaxed concentration, I didn’t notice the tingling sensation migrate from my extremities to my throat and up into my head until it began seeping out of my eyes. All the memories and mindsets I’ve come to associate with Riley’s music struggled to the surface, fighting for air, and I drifted with them on a conceptual journey through the soundscapes.

The first movement drew to a close. I dried my eyes as Riley introduced his colleagues, including his son, Gyan, on guitar. When it came time to introduce himself, he concluded: “And I’m an old man,” with a soft-spoken chuckle. Riley briefly spoke about the next piece, a movement inspired by the California desert, as the three musicians settled into their places. A drone creeped warily into the atmosphere. Riley lifted his left hand and began chanting in the tradition of classical Indian music, letting his fingers rise and fall and tremble with the vibrations. Again enveloped in the moment, I bowed my head and prepared to float through time indefinitely, obediently following the trace of Riley’s rasping voice–I had no idea how long the movement would last, but it didn’t matter. I had reached a rare and temporary state of equilibrium that resisted the intrusion of external thought. And I still haven’t fully processed it. -Maddie Higgins

 

Tyondai Braxton: HIVE

 

so many drummers. the sounds made me feel like crimes were taking place all around me. one dood played the drums like a gargoyle and it was awesome. -Jay Smith

Max Richter: The Blue Notebooks & Infra with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble

 

I settled into a middle seat in the balcony of the Bijou Theatre, creating precisely the same vantage point from which I watched Jonny Greenwood’s and Iannis Xenakis’s pieces performed the previous year. “Infra” confined most of the fast-paced movement up to the treble range, complemented by slowly-evolving droning harmonies and textural sounds. His pieces have the effect of confusing the listener’s perception of time by drawing attention to the dramatic foreground while subtler elements of the piece continue to evolve. I kept finding myself completely absorbed in the feeling of one moment of the piece, then suddenly, with no recollection of how it got there, I’d realize the piece had entered a different stage entirely. Richter has an interesting compositional ear that is creative at the least and downright extraterrestrial when in full force. -JPM

 

Ben Frost

Ben Frost

 

I’m writing this re/+/cap as if it contains a typog/+/raphic strobe light because by /+/far the most mem/+/orable sensation from F/+/rost’s show was the incessant fl/+/ickering of a collection of str/+/obes. Ben Frost’s sh/+/ow was one of t/+/he more energetic performa/+/nces of the weeke/+/nd. Frost himself coolly/+/ let the music guide his moveme/+/nts and a continual head bob rippled t/+/hrough the crowd. Frost’s fu/+/zzes, tings, and glitches some/+/times took on the persona of IDM, so/+/metimes ethereal soundscapes, and s/+/ometimes mechanical ind/+/ustrialism–most of the time all/+/ three simultaneously. Similar to his strag/+/gly yet sculpted beard, his /+/music is in many ways fr/+/ee yet structured. The quietly confide/+/nt Ben Frost is a powerf/+/ul force in the experimental elect//ronic world and it w/+/as a real pleasure to get to see him in s/+/uch an intimate ven/+/ue. -JPM

 

Jamie XX

Jamie XX

 

Jamie XX reminded us that WNUR knows how to shake its groove thang.

 

Tanya Tagaq

 

yoo this performance was WILD. probably my favorite of the weekend. I wasn’t sure if Tanya was an exorcist or an exorcisee or somewhere in between, but this set was DOWNRIGHT ANIMALISTIC. That shit was primal af. WOW. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever experienced a more psychedelic performance (and I’ve seen String Cheese Incident like twice!!) Tanya’s one of the illest throat singers in the game right now. all the way turnt 10/10 -Jay Smith

 

Clark

 

Maddie had the gnarly opportunity to interview Clark! Check it out here.

 

Norton Wisdom

Nels Cline & Norton Wisdom: Stained Radiance

 

My only exposure to Nels Cline before this performance was through his work with Wilco, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. We joined a seemingly aimless line that wound back into a long, narrow amphitheater with no windows. All the seats were filled, so we lined up along the stairs, one of us on each stair. Cline began the set by requesting that audience members look at painter Norton Wisdom, not at him. The duo blew us away with Cline’s seemingly effortless ability to reflect the mood and tone of Wisdom’s painting in real time. This was a “whole is bigger than the sum of its parts” situation–Cline’s strands of ambient electric guitar dictated how the audience perceived the figures spewing from the tip of Wisdom’s brush. The two had obvious chemistry with each other and with their respective media. Wisdom’s wizardry with a paint brush awed the audience, while Cline’s reflective drones tied the artwork to their hearts. A once-in-a-lifetime experience I’m feelin’ lucky to have witnessed once in my lifetime! -JPM

 

 

Grouper

 

        “Once a song has left me I want it to belong to whoever finds it”

                                                                            -Grouper

        “Everything subjective, which due to its dialectical inwardness eludes a direct form of expression, is an essential secret”

                                                                                -Kierkegaard

So an impasse. I thought really that Grouper’s performance suggested that she would not, could not escape the fundamental inwardness of her art and offer something readily available to the audience. I would have said that of all the artists we deem confessional, the music that is called so deeply personal, Grouper and her performance stand out in taking seriously the claim that this type of expression is necessarily not for the taking. Any attempt by Grouper to directly express the kind of really inner things she has in mind will only mislead, and the performance indicates an awareness of this difficulty. Phrases bleed into one another and sounds collapse into noise just as they become discernable. She almost hides herself on stage, sitting on the ground surrounded her gear. I thought it was stunning despite my being necessarily outside her world.

Kierkegaard describes his “knight of faith” as admirable but not comprehensible. We can watch the truly subjective person dance between infinity and materiality, but in doing so gain no knowledge of how we ourselves might emulate the motion. The direct relationship between the individual and God, or for Grouper between herself and Love, is something for which observation offers no education, as everyone must work out their salvation in radical isolation. If all of this seems ridiculous then everything is in order, because gleaning anything other than awe and mystification from the story of Abraham or a live set by Grouper is the highest of comedic paradox. Two thumbs up. -Brian Campbell

 

 

Loscil

 

Lovely midday set in Knoxville’s Modern Art museum. Loscil provided subdued, watery vibes whilst surrounded by some sweet glass sculptures. Pleasing sub-bass tones. Heavy low pass filter. Grainy textures. Contemplative. Everything you’d want from an ambient set. It was hot. -Stephen Antonoplis

 

Steve Gunn

 

this guy’s gnarly. no better place to listen to Steve Gunn than Knoxville. Hints of Appalachia bleed through Steve’s pensive guitar licks and weathered vocals. It’s impossible to overstate how phenomenal this performance was. Fans of Kurt Vile look no further; a former Violator himself, Steve’s melancholic melodies hit at the same feels. Me and Emai got to meet Jim Jarmusch after the show which was also cool. Sweet dood, former Wildcat (meow).

-Jay Smith

 

Amen Dunes

 

These gents are righteous. Big Ears was kind of light on the traditional bands (at least traditional for me: guitar, bass, drums… discernible melodies), but Amen Dunes hit the spot and provided a nice dose of downright listenable grooves. LISTEN: you gotta listen to these guys.

 

Holly Herndon

 

Stephen interviewed Herndon! Checkout the killer feature here.

 

 

Maddie Higgins’ Interview with Chris Clark

We spent the majority of our brief Friday night at the Standard. A small warehouse with concrete floors, a makeshift bar, and standing room only, the Standard was the temporary home of the artists deemed more “electronic” performing at Big Ears. Around 10:30pm, Chris Clark occupied the stage in a plain black t-shirt that matched the black tape obscuring his Macbook Pro logo. His head bobbed to the rhythm as he manipulated the live set controllers spread in front of him. We, too, bobbed along in the crowd, our idiosyncrasies manifesting in kinesthetic form. Yet, some of us felt an unpleasantly familiar sense of inhibition.

 

The mass of bodies pulsed self-consciously, oriented towards the stage, eyes locked on the DJ. I reeled through memories of concerts and club nights in my head and recalled the typical and strange disconnect between the two distinct spaces of musical enjoyment. At clubs, where the DJ is often nestled in a booth or somewhat removed from the spotlight, dancers let loose individually or in groups. They fully utilize their spatial circumstance as they lock into a “flow” for hours. At concert halls, on the other hand, you get an effect similar to the one at the Standard: hesitant shuffling, with an occasional enthusiastic dancer as the exception rather than the norm. Amidst the shuffling, I thought: “Are we here to watch music or here to listen?”

 

As the set drew to a close, I wondered if Clark had an opinion on the matter. Jay and I spotted him standing at a table near the bar with his manager and felt compelled to interrupt. We didn’t get the first part of the interview–and the full answer to our original question–on tape, and our attempt to follow up with Clark’s team after met with failure. A nonetheless engaging conversation ensued. What follows is a transcript of our discussion, beginning at a moment when Clark mentioned moving around stage more than usual during his Big Ears performance. His manager had just offered some insight on the matter.

 

Clark: Testing, one two. Ok go on. If you’re not like, uh–the less you do on stage, the more, like, the flaws of the music show up really, really brutally. When you’re not trying to cover it up with a dance move. Is that kinda what you’re saying?

 

Manager: Yeah. Yeah, i think so. I think it’s because–

 

Clark: You said it better earlier.

 

Maddie: No, yeah, you did say it– you definitely said it well.

 

Manager: The way that I look at it is: when you go to a performance, and you’re in the audience, you are–there’s a relationship between the person that’s playing music, no matter what style they have, and you, in the audience. And if you’re not doing very much then there’s little, um, dialogue.

 

Maddie: Yeah, room for error.

 

Manager: There’s less body language, and less–there’s less information.

 

Maddie: Less perception, like fewer senses. Yeah.

 

Clark: I was thinking about this the other day. When you look at someone on stage, you’re looking at the effects of the music. And if they’re doing a lot of stuff it distracts you from the cause, what’s coming out of the speakers, and the actual cause is the musical decisions and the thing that you’ll judge the music on purely by its own merits. And if you can just like, do a little bit of a twirl…they’re like social effects. It’s like social or cultural rather than the actual music. Whereas if you’re just like, well I might as well not even be here, you’re opening the music up to severe criticism. But, at the same time if your music’s good, people will be like “well okay, this guy’s not gonna do a bit of musical theatre, he’s not in pantomime, he’s not an actor, he’s not like, he’s not a break dancer, so I’ll just listen to the music.” And if you’re music’s good enough, then I think people are really into that. When you’re just like, “Well, no, I’m not gonna ask the crowd to applaud after every breakdown.”

 

Maddie: No, of course.

 

Jay: What about from your performance aspect? Do you enjoy it when you’re kinda up there, putting on a show?

 

Clark: Not always, no. I enjoyed it tonight.

 

Maddie: I would agree, I would agree. not always.

 

Clark: yeah?

 

Maddie: Yeah.

 

Manager: No, definitely not always.

 

Clark: Sometimes it’s awful.

 

Maddie: Especially when you get discouraged. Like, if something–sometimes–I don’t know. For me at least, something bad happens and I’m just like “Now I don’t wanna–” I mean, I know I gotta keep going but it just–

 

[…]

 

Clark: Yeah. I think as soon as you start thinking too much about what people are, you know–

 

Maddie: Perceiving, yeah?

 

Clark: I mean, just people are. You know, you can’t look at it like it’s like uh, I don’t know. I just can’t. I wish people–well, I don’t wish this at all actually, but like people–

 

Manager: Disclaimer, that was a disclaimer.

 

Clark: People are so unpredictable. You can’t get into this mentality that you know what people like and you just need to think about what they want. Because it’s chaos–it’s utter chaos. Every human on this planet is far too intelligent to have one clear motive. So, if you just think of like, you’re playing to an audience of everyone who’s totally different in their own world, with different expectations–they might hate what you do, they might love it–and then you’re just like, well, fuck it, I’m just gonna do what I wanna do. Because you can’t–there’s no way you can–

 

Maddie: You can’t please everyone.

 

Clark: It’s not like a focus group, you can’t ask them “do you want to hear a kick drum? Do you want to hear a melody?”

 

Maddie: Like, how does this snare feel to you, can I make it a little tighter?

 

Manager: Yeah.

 

Clark: Yeah. It would be really bad, if it was like that. If it was so proscribed, it would be actually–not good.

 

Maddie: Yeah, that actually brings up another question for me. I guess, for me, when I’m DJing, I’m always wondering…because I have friends who say different things. Some of my friends say, “forget the crowd, just play what you wanna hear, and if you’re really passionate about it then it should come through,” right? And then I have other friends who say, like, you know, “try to tailor what you’re interested in also to the crowd and shit…”

 

Clark: Oh, fuck that, no. I would reject the second one. Quite strongly.

 

Maddie: Okay, true. Good, good to know.

 

Clark: But then–

 

Maddie: You gotta have a good time, you know.

 

Clark: Yeah, but then I’ve really gotten into trouble in the past by doing that.

 

Maddie: Of course it doesn’t always work.

 

Clark: Yeah, doesn’t always work. Because I’ve just got–I’ve got really shitty taste in music. Like I really love that Beyonce track–this isn’t on tape right?–that Halo track.

 

Maddie: Which Beyonce track?

 

Clark: Halo.

 

Maddie: Oh Halo, yeah! it’s not bad.

 

Clark: My girlfriend caught me listening to it. I listened to it in the morning on headphones, like while I was making coffee. I had it on like four times in a row on loop. And it was like a guilty pleasure.

 

Maddie: She doesn’t know.

 

Clark: She was like, “Have you–are you just there? Listening to that? You’ve just been listening to that for about half an hour on loop?”

 

Manager: That’s almost grounds for divorce isn’t it?

 

Clark: It’s a fucking amazing tune.

 

Manager: No, no, I know, I was joking.

 

Clark: That track is amazing.

 

Manager: I know it quite well. Why do you think it’s bad to listen to?

 

Clark: Well, no. It was more the fact that I was–it wasn’t the track, she loves it as well–it was more that I was like listening to it in the morning on headphones, almost like I was looking at porn or something and she’d caught me having a wang.

 

Manager: And you were in, like, a white vest.

 

Maddie: A moment.

 

Clark: Because I was just sitting there, like, with my tea.

 

Jay: Did she interrupt the moment? Or did she let it flow?

 

Clark: No, she just, like, smirked at me and was like “You’ve been listening to that–you really like that song, don’t you?” You know when you’re called out for liking something a bit too much, and it didn’t deserve that much love.

 

Jay: I feel like that’s where musical tastes are made, though. Like on the fringes–the weird shit that other people don’t like, but that you somehow manage to enjoy.

 

Maddie: I feel like that’s how genres are made, almost. You know, just kinda take something that’s super on the fringe and make this new genre out of it.

 

Jay: Not that Beyonce is exactly on the fringe.

 

Maddie: Not that Beyonce is, no, but…

 

Manager: She’s had a fringe before.

 

Clark: She kind of is, because that track is so fucking technically accomplished. It’s like, these insane melodies that she just belts out. And it’s quite easy to, like–I can sing that to myself internally, but–

At this point, a member of the road crew instructed the men to pack up their items and prepare for travel. Our conversation was cut tragically short, leaving us with many questions: what secrets does Clark know about ‘Halo’? When was Beyoncé on the fringe? When will people stop staring and start dancing? We might have to hunt Clark down at Pitchfork to find out. -Maddie Higgins

To usher in 2015 we will be posting a series of reflections, lists and miscellania that look at back at what the past year has had to offer. Today we have two shows focused on 2014′s underground electronic music and some accompanying notes courtesy of longtime Streetbeat DJ and host of etc. radio (Fridays 10pm-3am) … m50

 

m50, Ashina, and special guest Multipara on 1/2/2015: FULL SET w/ Tracklist

m50 on 12/19/2014: FULL SET w/ Tracklist

On December 19th, I played almost only records from 2014. You can listen on my Soundcloud and Mixcloud webpages. Here are some highlights:

Davor – Ride With Me
Deep Detroit beatdown vibes via Croatia
https://soundcloud.com/unchartedaudio

Niro – Via Newton 1
Housey, cosmic, upbeat, future-garage from Italy
https://soundcloud.com/niro-1

RDMA – Fanciful
Downbeat minimal grooves from Germany
https://soundcloud.com/rdma

Ranko – Ballad Of A Dead Bird
Strange leftfield organic / boom-bap fusion from Germany
https://soundcloud.com/o-rs

On January 2nd, we hosted a guest set from Berlin’s Multipara, where he made some selections from the past year as well, my highlights again:

Quasi Dub Development – Shaky Steak
Super squiggly & tuneful dub from Italy
https://soundcloud.com/qdd

Building Instrument – Bli Med
Gorgeous vocals & low-tech grooves from Norway
https://soundcloud.com/building-instrument

Cristian Vogel – Forest Gifts
Murky spectral techno from Germany
https://soundcloud.com/shitkatapult

Springintgut & F.S. Blumm – Zeitgeschwindigkeit
Elegant romantic folktronica from Germany
https://soundcloud.com/springintgut

Xavier Charles – 10 clarinets in a washing machine
Truth in advertising, from France
https://soundcloud.com/unsounds_label

But really, you should listen to the whole programs, they go a lot further…