Big city music rivalries be damned, if you want something major to happen, let the LA underground and the New York underground join forces. We learned this last week when Wierd Fest hit our fair town.
Wierd is a weekly New York City club with a focus on minimal synth and coldwave (a fairly obscure post-punk subset noted for its large, dark guitars) sounds, operating under the motto "(very rare)." The club, founded by Pieter Schoolwerth and Blacklist drummer Glenn Maryansky, eventually led to a record label run by Schoolwerth that features Blacklist, Xeno and Oaklander and Martial Canterel on the roster.
Out in Los Angeles, there are two clubs where you can regularly hear Wierd music, M/R/X-Wolfpak and Killing Spree. Where, in the past, Schoolwerth had collaborated with the former on LA ventures, this time around, he worked closely with Killing Spree's DJ and co-promoter Sarah Cake. She helped book and promote Wierd Fest and hosted the kickoff event at her monthly, Thursday night club.
Housed at Nomad, an art/performance space downhill from Dodger Stadium, Wierd Fest brought the return of Martial Canterel and Xeno and Oaklander and boasted the LA debut of Blacklist. LA performers Tearist, Frank Alpine (ex-New Collapse) and Nite Jewel were on Friday's line-up, where San Francisco's Bronze (ex-Vanishing) opened on Saturday.
Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to the Saturday night event, despite wanting to catch Frank Alpine's live debut. The Blacklist-headlined evening, though, was fantastic. Part of the allure was the choice of venue. Nomad is a big enough space to accommodate a couple hundred people comfortably, yet it's far enough off the club radar to feel intimate, more like you're at a private party than a hotly anticipated show.
We caught Bronze play with The Secret Society of the Sonic Six and Obsolete at M/R/X-Wolfpak almost two years ago. This performance was far more memorable. I became hypnotized by the strange, electronic gizmos that Joe Oberjat used during the performance. Martial Canterel, who had also previously played at M/R/X-Wolfpak, followed with a lengthy set of old and new material. In an LA-meets-NYC moment, he dedicated the first song, "Three Days," to Anarexia, a former LA DJ who has since moved to New York and occasionally spins at Wierd.
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Blacklist, who we interviewed last week, played a powerful and solid gig, including a few older numbers in with material from their recently released debut full-length, Midnight of the Century. At the beginning of the set, we caught Schoolwerth, Sarah Cake and Eric Dead head-bobbing together and thought about how cool it is that people on opposite sides of the country can come together and create an event like this. It is a (very rare) thing, but one can hope that it will happen again.