Entertainment Through EccentricityBy Dan Katz
Question: What happens when a humor magazine puts together a concert party? Answer: You get one of the most bizarre collections of bands and other performers ever to gather in La Sala De Puerto Rico. Friday’s VooDoo Party was mainly structured around local and national music acts, but interim performances ranged from improvised cacophony courtesy of the VooDoo Noise Rock Band and the spectacle of a clown-suited Dan Goode ’01 juggling knives to Matt Malchano ’01 proudly singing along to the MIT Marching Band’s first (and potentially last) rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” While these acts were primarily intended to kill time, many of them provided the party’s most memorable moments.
Acid Wench opened the show with a set of relatively traditional metal songs, supported by appropriately crunchy guitars and a growling lead vocal. While their performance wasn’t all that groundbreaking, the band did add some clever touches, such as miking a barely audible microrecorder and playing recognizable melodies in the middle of a bass solo.
After the generally slow pacing of Acid Wench’s part of the show, Providence-based punk band Arab On Radar proceeded to rip the lid off the room with their unique approach to music, which generally consisted of incredibly rapid cymbal-driven drumming, repetitive guitar licks, and terrifying screams, accompanied by ghastly facial expressions. While one could argue that Arab on Radar’s songs were anything but memorable, the musicians themselves were spellbinding, and the chaotic result was strangely artistic.
The wild and reckless mood of the evening continued as The Children In Heat, Tau Epsilon Phi’s Misfits tribute band, took the stage. Popular around the MIT party circuit, the quartet showed a clear mastery of their instruments and material; however, I’m not personally a fan of the Misfits catalogue, and beyond that the Children had little to offer. In all fairness, though, their set was very well received. Ironically, the next group, Chicago’s Today Is My Super Spaceout Day, created an interesting soundscape I wouldn’t have expected from a guitar trio, but they didn’t seem to capture the interest of the audience. While they pumped out songs with catchy rhythms and cool guitar lines, most of the crowd, who had been moshing throughout The Children In Heat’s set, decided it was time to get food and mingle. It was a shame more attention wasn’t paid to a surprisingly impressive performance.
All eyes were on the stage again, however, for the entrance of Jim’s Big Ego. JBE illustrated why they are one of Cambridge’s favorite local bands with a set that swerved from “Porno Plots” (a funky number that’s about precisely what it sounds like it’s about), to their current hit “Y2K Hooray,” to upbeat songs incorporating lines from Godsmack’s “Whatever” and Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie,” and an impromptu poetry reading of lines scribbled by the crowd onto napkins. While some of the more punk-oriented attendees seemed to find the band’s light Fruvous-esque approach a bit sugary and grumbled a lot, the majority of the people in attendance were highly entertained.
Finally, everyone gathered around the stage in anticipation for the final act of the evening: Wesley Willis, who is visually possibly the most intimidating human being on the planet. Slowly sitting in front of his keyboard, the 320-pound schizophrenic (yes, that’s what I said) proceeded to announce the name of his first song, which I will not even attempt to have printed here. Over the course of about an hour, Willis played nearly identical songs backed by various automatic rhythm settings on his keyboard with little or no additional musical content ... and the crowd ate it up. Some viewers found the performance stupid, others enjoyed it at first but got bored by the repetition, and at least a few people were audibly concerned for Willis himself. However, most of the room was like putty in Willis’s hands, and, as he closed with his closest thing to a hit, “I Wupped Batman’s Ass,” people flooded the stage and danced along.
Aside from just being a fun night, the VooDoo party taught a valuable lesson: weirdness is entertaining. Between the minimalist ponderings of Wesley Willis, the oddball covers of Jim’s Big Ego, and the tortured visages of Arab On Radar that will haunt me until the day I die, VooDoo stocked its stage with things you just don’t see every day. And the less you have seen of something, the less you want to look away.