All the stay-up-late preparation I had been doing led up to this trip to Ithaca. I stopped by to see my old friends Sean and Kelly — so long has it been, that they have a 3-year-old kid I had never met. Nonetheless, we picked up where we left off and had a nice time catching up.
Afterward, I headed to Castaways (413 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca) to catch the show there. The place is great to see live music. I can't think of a comparable venue in Rochester: it's laid out as one big room with the bar on one side and the stage on the other. Low ceilings and acoustic drapes keep the sound from being overwhelming. Plus, the people I met were pretty nice … I expected it out of Ithaca, realizing it was just an arbitrary opinion about the town.
Starting off the show, Willie B. (a.k.a. Brian Wilson) played drums with some MIDI electronics. I was kind of disappointed because I thought his songs really don't go anywhere — I suspect he's better in a band such as Johnny Dowd which I really liked years ago (although I don't remember if it was this same guy on drums). Headlining was That One Guy who was just fantastic. As I've described before, he plays a custom-made, 7-foot tall "magic pipe" which includes a guitar string and a bass string along with a bunch of buttons that control a synthesizer. As such, the gyrations necessary to play the magic pipe automatically affect a dance performance. Plus the sound is practically unclassifiable: it's cousin to jam bands, hip-hop, rock, synth-pop, and novelty acts — in degrees that vary considerably from song-to-song.
Although I didn't leave all that late, the two-hour drive won out against my stay-up-late practice and I had to pull over for a quick nap before getting home around 2:30 a.m.
I headed out to The Bug Jar (219 Monroe Ave.) to see Chae Hawk, and The Secret Secret Dino Club. Okay, actually I went specifically because Secret Secret Dino Club is headed by a guy named Jayce, born just before I left high school and not far from where I grew up (according to the MySpace page). [That, and I'm writing this far later than I had intended so some people might miss it entirely.]
Anyway, the show was kicked off with a DJ along with a video projection. The Secret Secret Dino Club was up first and did some fun and clever hip-hop. Chae Hawk brought some stuff that was a little … oh, I don't know … less whimsical? — but similar nonetheless. The crowd was much younger than I was (except for some parental-looking folks) and this style of music is kind of new to me. It's an exercise in overstimulation — between the prerecorded music for the performers, the live performance, the video projection, and a DJ adding in a couple turntables, it can get to be a bit overwhelming. But somehow it all stays coherent, and with a thoroughly rough edge — kind of like an extension of the gritty garage sound of the 1960's and the punk sound of the 1970's, this is the gritty sound of the generation with access to cheap digital replication and editing.
As for Jayce, I stopped after the show and said hi. He said he's usually met by black women who share his name, and I'm the first guy. My own nickname was cemented by the presence of the cartoon show Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors during high school (and for you geeky trivia nuts [you know who you are], none other than J. Michael Straczynski wrote 13 episodes, according to IMDb). I told Jayce this and he said he was also named after a cartoon — presumably the same one. How weird is that? And who'd have thought that 20 years after naming a kid that that he'd end up 3 hours away from home and run into someone who got the same name from the same place. But he's going to have to keep looking because I'm not his father.