In a recent study by the Schadenfreude Foundation of Swaziland it was found there are exactly two-and-a-half things funnier and yet sadder than watching a white male act out his "DJ" set from behind his laptop: monkeys riding tricycles and using the phrase "mad sauce" to convince Buppies to buy Taco Bell and midget porn. Not to toot my own horn, but I've sat through all two-and-a-half scenarios plus a Tijuana donkey show with nary a shiver. But as I watched producer Purefunk gesticulate at the Loft Fri., Dec. 2, as he pumped progressive breaks from his digital apparatus, I realized this must be the uncomfortable feeling one gets staring into Bea Arthur's vagina and realizing the abyss stares back.
Leaning against a column, I'm beaded with confusion like a Boy Scout with that deep woods beaver fever. Mostly because as much as I want to lambaste the scene like a schoolgirl's game of MASH (remember paper prism-flicking Mansion-Apartment-Shack-House?), I find it so genuine that it's immobilizing. As perhaps you've gleaned from how perpetually I harangue hipsters and the unfathomably chintzy Family Force 5, I have been under the impression there is a dearth of earnest behavior in Atlanta's music scene. Well, that impression got a crosscheck from a crackerjack conduit at this show, and I'm standing transfixed like a medieval relief of Knight Templar Sir Real as Cypher Cell joins Purefunk (who provides the technologically enhanced band with breakbeats) on the stage.
Cypher Cell is the latest project of Jimmy Cypher, a guitarist whose embrace of the infinite reverb marks him as a first-class architect of smudged funhouse mirrors. This is rock 'n' roll as a reflection in Tom Cruise's Ray-Ban sunglasses: It's meant to be personal yet bombastic. And as the rest of the band conducts the "full-power groove" of a hornet-powered locomotive, Cypher Cell puts the crowd on lockdown. Instrumentally. Problem is, the crazy inmates called vocalists seem so eager to deliver lines they become tortured monologists. Please tone down to bring the tunes up.
On Sat., Dec. 3, while at Eyedrum for the WRAS 88.5 Benefit I unintentionally come across another funnel cloud forming -- this time taking the form of Deerhunter. I'm originally in attendance to peep a new joint or two from Mars ILL, a socially and spiritually conscious hip-hop duo certainly no stranger to being earnest. DJ Dust's back water breaks rock the back room's "new" stage as MC Manchild freestyles tributes to 88.5, Eyedrum and Minamina Goodsong (celebrating a CD release the same night at the Earl).
On Monday morning I recount all this to my little brother over Instant Messenger. As he sits in Osaka, Japan, on his end of the digital tether he cries out in his best virtual Dave Chappelle, "I'm Rosa Parks, bitch." It's an abstract reminder that you don't have to fight to seed a struggle and sometimes it's better to just cede to a feeling, anyway. Be earnest, but not overzealous.