Saturday, July 23, 2011

Greenhouse Lounge | Sir Charles | Aquaphonics 2011.07.23 Old City Limits Delray Beach, FL

Part 1: "Un-be-liev-able"
As an avid patron to local music venues in South Florida, and abroad, bearing witness to a night like this seems inevitable. It is unfortunate, but rest assured that even upholding a status as a seasoned veteran could not have prepared anyone for the series of events that transpired.
Aquaphonics and Marc PaperScissor Team Up
After months of mounting anticipation, the North Florida dub-fusion trio Greenhouse Lounge kicked off a two night run from Delray to Miami last night. Hailed as a staple act of Aura Music and Arts Festival, as well as garnering a strong support base on their turf,  South Florida ready for a strong dose of homegrown live electronic music to get the weekend started.  

The heat lightening overhead lit up the sky above Atlantic Avenue. Ominous clouds threatened rain but more importantly served to set the tone for an eerie and hot summer night. Something in the air was off. I felt this even before I arrived. A cold beverage in the lot cooled my nerves and my body temperature. I was on time for once but the venue had the doors closed. This was odd given that every other establishment in the surround area was full and in swing. An unsettled group was forming outside but I wrote it off and readied my camera bag.

Things Go South

A member of the Cheesehead Productions crew hit me up and warned me to not come in. He came out and told me they just kicked Matt Beck out of the venue. As the head of Brotherly Love Productions and the promoter for the event, booting him would have some heavy repercussions. I made my way towards the entrance and caught up with him. A perfect storm of misunderstanding, mismanagement and inflated egos that stemmed from earlier in the evening had catapulted into the illogical decision to have him escorted out by a third party security personnel.

Given my personal interactions with Matt and Brotherly Love Productions, I know how much time and effort goes into bringing in talent and making sure every show runs smoothly for the band, the audience and the venue. He takes this very seriously and this was a big night for him, the bands and the local scene. Like any well oiled machine, the more simple things appear on the surface is usually an indication of more intricate processes going on in the background.  In a nutshell the whole thing went awry when the venue kept the doors locked after the scheduled opening time out of some unjustified fear that no one was going to show up. When Matt stepped up to point out possible problem areas he was seen as a threat to the internal power struggle. Even as I write this it seems incomprehensible that a revered promoter could be penalized for simply doing his job.  

Beyond that the staff was disproportionate with only 1 bartender and half a dozen security guys, complete with ear pieces and bad attitudes. The end result was a tragic case of too many chiefs distorting the truth and the upper level management of the venue letting his staff make executive decision based on misinformation. No matter what was actually said or not said, the way it was handled was completely unprofessional and a huge turn off to the concert goers and BLP  Krewe faithful.

Despite the blatant mistreatment by the venue, Matt swallowed his pride and put on his professional face when he rallied for everyone to support the bands and tear up the dance floor for them. The venue realized they were in a bad place and decided to wave the $10 cover, thus sacrificing an easy $1,500 that would have been kicked back to the establishment and promotions. This kind of drastic decision making coupled with other revelations, such as a poorly stocked bar, may be an indication that this place is in trouble. Now we know why.

Music Saves The Night

Aquaphonics hesitantly took the stage around 10:30 PM to a decent sized crowd of eager fans. The vibe was tense at first but as soon as the music started all negative thoughts were out the door. This was the biggest stage I have seen them grace and they took full advantage of the sound capabilities. Images projections displayed local artist Marc PaperScissor's designs through psychedelic filters and sequences as the boys hosed the crowd with smooth electronic movements  and reaching jam sections. Much like they have been doing in recent history, Aquaphonics was on point, playing up and the best I have ever heard them.
Taking a vow to never again monetarily support the current management of the venue meant heading across the street for a beer and shot combo before coming back to Sir Charles' electronic bass efforts. My research into his sound lead me to believe he would have a different approach, but the crowd was vibing to the hybrid dubstep-electronica. I could not help but place him as a generic rendition of producers like Derek Smith, but that could be a result of my limited exposure to the genre or the limitations of the genre itself.  The guy believe in his music, which any music fan will applaud regardless of their own personal preference. His unending energy on stage proves it. I will give him another chance tomorrow.
Sir Charles 
The Last Straw 

It was getting late and Greenhouse Lounge took the stage. They band made a point to give a warm shout out to Matt that was met by a loud, positive response from the crowd. In hindsight I think that jab might have set the venue personnel off. The staff collected every piece of BLPJessiah, the drummer from Aquaphonics was tossed for an undisclosed reason. Those that protested and tried to question the security were also given the boot. It was an unreal turn of events and the most unsettling thing I have seen happen at a show. After the show was over I went back in to question the general manager. She had no idea who I was but went off on Brotherly Love Productions management and responded that the other patrons were forced out for rough housing. Having nothing to lose at this point, I called her out on this false information before being told to leave.

Greenhouse Lounge Kills It

Unfortunately the peripheral events taking place were a distraction from what was happening on stage. That being said, Greenhouse Lounge took the crowd on a trip through heavy dub lead by Dave Sweeny's thunderous bass and robotic posture. Skillful hip-hop vocal samples from  the likes of Ole Dirty Bastard incorporated well with their break beat tendencies. The tones were on point, especially Zach Welnert's clean space guitar. I had to shed my own predispositions about how they might take the hypnotic composed sections to soaring peaks and improvisational segments. Instead they rely heavily on grooving textures and strategic effect sequencing that aim to capture the ear and no necessarily fulfill tension and release junkie's desires.
Greenhouse Lounge 
The set was much shorter than expected, but for obvious reasons. I enjoyed some of the darker moments in the music and was impressed with their tight transitions. The crowd put in a good energy for the band and seemed more than satisfied with the performance.  It was only night one and the general consensus was to get out of there reasonably unscathed was a major plus. See you guys in Miami tonight!

Greenhouse Lounge
Set 1: Bebot (Up Until Now Remix), Koto, Backdoor Deal, Sands, Let's Go (Trick Daddy Remix), Empires Fall, Scream (Michael Jackson Remix) 

Set ISip, Spooky, In Dub/In Dew, Animal, Super Moon, Waiting For It, Fingerbreaker

Videos Courtesy of Mark Duclos - Cheesehead Productions!

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