VHS or Beta
with I Am the World Trade Center
The Social, Orlando, FL • June 27, 2002
You may think that time travel is still a new and complicated science. You’d be thinking the wrong thing; following are some instructions for a quick and cheap travel through the chronographic continuum. Of course, you’d have to wait for conditions to be just right, and admittedly some of the required materials are hard to come by (if they’re available at all), but I’m sure this tutorial is worthwhile reading for both the seasoned temporal traveler and the amateur enthusiast.
Begin by driving to downtown Orlando, with the goal of seeing the bands VHS Or Beta and I Am The World Trade Center in mind. While Orlando in particular may not be necessary, you will need some area which you have been witness to during the period 1990-1999. You will also need someone unfamiliar with the area, a person to whom you can describe the “scene” and its evolution over that period. Architecture, venues (anyone remember Club Spacefish?), bands you saw before, during and after they were big. Anything goes, as long as it took place or was noted during 199x.
After a generous helping of this reminiscing, you should be at the venue. If you timed things right, I Am The World Trade Center should just be hitting the stage. Otherwise, it is important you fill the wait with more ’90s trivia, or lose all temporal momentum.
Once the band takes the stage, your backwards slip through history will resume its smooth motion. I Am The World Trade Center are a duo, musically and romantically involved; they get many bonus points for keeping the name they’ve been touring and recording with for many years now, despite recent events. Performing to partly sequenced songs, the two will share all duties on stage; Dan Geller for the most part the musical beds and Amy Dykes on vocals. In the middle of “Metro,” from the band’s first full-length album Out of the Loop, they will seamlessly shift gears into Berlin’s “The Metro.” You will notice the pace of chronological dislocation increasing, and a revelation. The two create a remarkable sonic likeness to Terri Nunn and company, with fat synthesized riffs wrapped around clearly danceable tracks. Dykes’ girlish vocals, pure and high yet strong and confident, give the whole thing an air of Europop. A cover of Blondie’s “Call Me” may be performed that night (it’s also on their most recent album), which may throw the time experiment’s calibration off, but you can take advantage of this by shunting some of that ’70s stream into the batteries, for use later.
I Am The World Trade Center record straight to a home laptop, but if they record as they perform, their home must be a shambles. The two are quite animated on stage, often dancing towards and with each other, clearly interacting not just with one another and the music, but frequently making it out to the audience for a little one-on-one. Geller may even drop in some breakdancing moves. Dykes should be using a Chaos pad to great effect, waving her hands in the air to trigger all sorts of manic musical punctuation. Meanwhile, not to be upstaged, Geller would be bashing at his keyboard with maracas. All in all, the two will manage to be in constant motion — not only sounding like a full band, but having enough energy for twice as many members.
After the band nearly drives the handful of dancers to exhaustion (you could talk about the days where this would have been a full house, Thursday or not, but it would bring a ’90s element into things and possibly disrupt the band’s ’80s effect), they will pack it up and take a spot in the merch booth. It will be difficult to maintain your chronological position; if you find yourself slipping, you can stabilize the situation by challenging each other to name one- and two- hit wonders from the ’80s.
Soon enough (or is that earlier enough?), VHS Or Beta will ignite their multifaceted mirrorball spacedrive. The name may conjure up memories of a fabled ’80s battle, but that is merely coincidence. Make no mistake — whatever good could be extracted from ’70s disco lives on in VHS Or Beta, and it’s an amount that is much larger than you may think. If you’re thinking this will be some musical equivalent of cheesy polyester flare, you’re wrong and should take the chicken exit out of the time-travel experiment. No questions will be asked.
The Louisville, KY four-piece will add a touring keyboard player, bringing the number on stage to five; still, his role will be mostly as support. As the live drummer pounds out the expected dancefloor thump, bass and twin guitars will build a frenzy of bomp and wah, distilling the best elements of rhythmic porn and esoteric chord changes into something like disco gone fusion. The band will seemingly stand transfixed in concentration — in contrast to IATWTC’s animated performance, but in this case, the real action will be going on in your head. Swirling bouts of slapback echo, those little squeals made by sliding up the neck real fast on the high strings, chords that seem to hang unresolved for measures on end… these are the elements of disco which are rarely heard outside cliches, but in the hands of VHS Or Beta they will make an impressively original racket.
Sometime during VHS Or Beta’s set, the members of IATWTC will take to the dancefloor and show the crowd how to boogie. The jarring mix of decades will be dangerously electric (“don’t cross the streams!”), but you can simply apply some of that ’70s juice you stored up earlier and neatly counterbalance the anomalous presence. After the show, things will take a while to return to normal, and evidence of chronological dislocation may still be evident, as both bands will be selling CDs next to the stage for about half of what they go for in 2002. Still, you should return from the excursion unharmed, and if you prepared correctly, you should have plenty of digital evidence to prove your journey.
So there you have it. With the right circumstances and careful preparation, you can leap backwards for about 30 years and return unharmed, if a bit enriched. Remember, this web page is presented for instructional and demonstration purposes only; we make no endorsement as to this method’s safety or reliability. Time travel looks like fun, but it’s best left in the hands of scientists and trained professionals — gonzos need only remember the fate of the Nebraska team that somehow got trapped in Lollapalooza II for six years…