No need to try fitting the Starving Weirdos into any pre-ordained category. They've coined their own name for their non-genre -- "floorcore" -- although it's more a description of the band's performance style than their sound. Bandmembers kneel or crouch on stage or in whatever room they're playing (there's often no stage) amidst an assortment of electronic gear and instruments, bells, shakers, drums, sax, bugle, violin ... and, yes, guitars, although seldom played in traditional fashion. They shift from one thing to another in a set, typically one long soundscape that may begin slowly or abruptly, depending on the mood du jour, moving with a sonic ebb and flow.
A Brit who goes by the name Skif, writing for The Art of Noise blog, described the band's recent show at London's Tufnell Park Dome as follows, "California's Starving Weirdos begin their debut UK show all in a state of genuflection, all at their knees tinkering with their scattered instruments. It starts ornately, a gentle clang and jangle of bells, before it ramps up to scarg atmospherics, the tones abrasive up top but oscillating down below, yet on an ambient keel around the middle. It is not a one-note post-rock performance however, as beats come in and crag, as though chiseling at headstones. Violins scrape and slalom, sax and bugle open like imploding chasms as it grows haka-like with rumbling intensity. Their half an hour is like peace and chaos undertaking an epic arm-wrestle, with peace putting up an untypically stoic resistance."
While I have no idea what "scarg atmospherics," might be, Skif definitely nails the SW experience, which, I'll point out, gets a lot more respect over in Europe than it does here. "We started recording as Starving Weirdos in 1998, but we didn't play out for a long time," said S.W. founder Brian Pyle.
Truth is, the band still doesn't play out often. They typically do shows only when some like-minded band is coming to town. Such is the case on Halloween, when the Weirdos host Boston's Sunburned Hand of the Man at a house show in Arcata. As that band's current label, Ecstatic Peace, put it: "Sunburned has been dropping mind bombs since 1997." That's when the band evolved out of the Boston punk combo Shit Spangled Banner, which included SHotM mainstays Rob Thomas and John Moloney. With literally dozens of recordings over the last few years, most of them CD-Rs, they've established themselves as leaders in the free-form alt. alt. world along with bands like Jackie-O Motherfucker and The No-Neck Blues Band (both of whom have played locally with the Weirdos). Where do they fit in the music scene? When Sunburned was featured on the cover of Wire magazine, the headline read "New Weird America," and vague as it may be it fits.
Other "new weird" bands playing the Friday night show include Arcata alt. garage/psyche band White Manna and Pipe(s) of the Doctor of Witchcraft, who have two brand new CD-R releases, Nouvelle Redwood Folk Music and a comp, Eureka Freak! No. 3 Sampler: A Tribute To The Godz. (Pipe(s) and W.M. also play Thursday at the Jambalaya.) And added to Friday's bill, a duo, Marauder and Alibi, just relocated here from Oakland, who claim they play "indigenous music from a culture that doesn't exist." Showtime is 8:30 p.m. at 1164 11th St. in Arcata. Be there and be weird.
What with the holiday falling on a Friday, there's costumed Halloweeny action everywhere. Rooster McClintock and Stolen Taxi (great name) play Trinidad's Ocean Grove (aka the Open Grave). Moo-Got-2 is at Muddy's Hot Cup. Strix Vega holds court at the Jambalaya joined by Portland friends Power of Country and Tainted Zucchini from Blue Lake. Humboldt Brews has Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo plus The Bucky Walters. Lil' Red Lion's "scary Halloween party" features Scotch Wiggly and Brett the Truck plus touring Teenage Faggot Werewolf. Saint John and the Sinners are throwing The Sinners Ball at Sal's Myrtlewood.
The Red Fox Tavern is on Day 2 of a Thursday/Friday run of Operation: Raise The Dead with electro-dubstep masters Heavyweight Dub Champion, featuring Dr. Israel, Stereo Lion and Jillian Ann.
Six Rivers Brewing has its 5th Annual Pirate's Ball featuring creepy Americana and murder ballads by The Pine Box Boys, who stick around for shows Saturday at Blue Lake Casino and Sunday at the Red Fox.
SoHum headbangers take to the Mateel for Helloween Harvest Hell Night. "Woe to you Oh Earth and Sea for the Devil sends the Beast with Roth. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the Beast for it is a human number, its number is 666, and with that in mind the Beast will seize the stage at the Mateel," says Dave Sky dramatically. He goes on the note that the all ages event, a benefit for "Clive Aid," includes the all-female Iron Maiden tribute The Iron Maidens, Nural from Los Angeles and local metalheads This Dying Wish.
At Portuguese Hall, it's a Deep Groove all-nighter (10 p.m.-6 a.m.) featuring music in two rooms including DJ Red, Mixmaster Crushington, J-SUN, Boogie, Justin B, Jan van Lier, Piper, Mike D, Masta Shredda, and Ragnarok, plus The Middle Agent with Chris Noonan and Brian Swizlo, and special guest MC, Scarub from Living Legends, who should be on around 2 a.m. This one's dry: No booze served or admitted.
Latest in the Redwood Jazz Alliance series is a show Thurday, Oct. 30, at HSU's Kate Buchanan Room with the Dafnis Prieto Quartet, led by a Cuban-born drummer who has been taking the New York jazz scene by storm. Saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum (from The New York Hieroglyphics), pianist Manuel Valera and bassist Armando Gola complete the quartet.
Michael Eldridge of RJA talked with the drummer (their interview is posted at www.redwoodjazzalliance.org) asking if he identifies his music as Afro-Latin jazz. "I would say it's contemporary Afro-Cuban jazz or kind of avant-garde," said Prieto. "People relate to Latin jazz or AfroCuban jazz as what happened at the earliest stages of the music, but we are like 60 years after that ... I perceive music as the way I live and the way I breathe and the way I walk. So, even though it has certain influence [from the past] it's more about what's happening now in the music scene in New York and in the world, and in my life."
It's only moderately music-related, but drummer/chef Chuck Kircher revives his old Blue Lake Cajun restaurant The Jubilee Saturday night as part of a series of special dinners at the Larrupin'. The menu includes Cajun stew, Creole catfish, The Cajun Tower, Creole-style eggplant parmesan and other dishes for vegetarians; beignets and pralines for dessert. An unplugged version of the Bayou Swamis will supply appropriate tunes.
Saturday night also marks the Eighth Annual White Trash Family Bash at E and O Bowl with Entheogen, LCA, Machete, Sick Bitch, Money Shot Lincoln, DJ Boogie and an All Saints Day costume contest.
Coming on Sunday, Nov. 2, for a Humboldt Folklife Society show at Muddy's Hot Cup, Alaskan fiddling poet Ken Waldman, who explains, "Striped Pig String Band opens, and I'll be joined by members of the band for my mix of spoken word and traditional music. Though it's my first public event in your region, I've had lots of support on KMUD, especially for my [very political] disk, As the World Burns, which might be especially appropriate for a show the weekend prior to the election."
Tuesday, Nov. 4, HumBrews brings in David Nelson Family Harvest Tour 2008 (sponsored by several hydroponic distros) with psychedelic warriors David Nelson (of course), Barry Sless, Mookie Siegel, Pete Sears and Joe Chirco.
And don't forget, Tuesday is the day we go to the polls. That night at the Red Fox, Passion has an Election Day Celebration featuring the truly fine Virginian alt. Americana band, The Hackensaw Boys, with The Bucky Walters opening. And hey, they'll give you a free draft beer if you show your "I voted" sticker.
So, don't forget, VOTE!!!