with The Apes
Miami, FL • September 19th, 2003
I have just come back from one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time, and I am fucking pissed.
Let me get one thing straight. When I come home from a club, or a show of some kind, I generally don’t do a write up immediately after. No, if I have something urgent to remember, I might make some notes, while it’s fresh in my head, but I don’t write anything concrete. This is for a few reasons. First, I like to give it time to sink in. Writing something so spur of the moment doesn’t always leave an accurate representation that the clarity of a good night’s sleep might bring.
Secondly, going hand in hand with a night of festivities, lack of clarity, and a need for sleep; if I happened to partake in too frequent a sampling of intoxicating libations throughout the night, I find myself not in the best frame of mind to write, let alone form coherent sentences. That is to say, unless you’d like a review consisting of “Dude! This hot girl was totally rubbing up against me during that one song by that guy with those instruments and, damn bro, I could totally see her nipples.”, I’d rather not transcribe the events taking place after suckling on Jack Daniels and/or Sam Adams’ cold teat. Lastly, assuming I even am in the right frame of mine (and being the guy with the big car, I draw the Designated Driver card more often than not), after a night of music and fun, I walk in my front door at the wee hours of the morning smelling of sweat, smoke, and hipsters, I don’t want to start analyzing. I want to sit down, pour a glass of wine (a Shiraz, Black Opal; I’m quite the connoisseur of fine $7 gas station wines), relax, and pet my attention-starved cat.
I simply say this to set a precedent. I say this, so you might better understand the implications when I tell you that after tonight’s Enon show I come home, storm through my front door, kick the computer out of it’s slumber, start a cup of coffee, click on MS Word and furiously begin typing, as I am now. As I said above, I am fucking pissed.
Tonight I saw Enon play an amazing gig, in support of their new album Hocus Pocus. I’d never seen Enon play before, but highly enjoying their new album, having heard wonderful things, and being a DJ who’s spun a few Enon tracks into my sets and seen how well people enjoy getting down to this stuff (“Disposable Parts” seems to be a favorite), I was already geared up for what I was sure to be an outstanding show. And it was, every bit as good as I imagined. I’m still pissed. Let me rewind.
We get to the club in time to catch most of the opening act, a group of fellas (and fella-ette) by the name of The Apes, doing their best to tear up the stage at Club Revolver/Soho Lounge, in Miami’s Design District. I didn’t care for the group too much, a sentiment seemingly echoed by the population of the club, and the majority of their set I spent with my buddy Nick, discussing the obvious similarities yet glaring differences between etiquette on an elevator versus etiquette on a subway. Go figure. The band certainly had some energy, but the music just wasn’t much too my liking. A bit too messy, a sound that felt like they were trying to overpower the dance floor, as opposed to something that lets the people really groove. Sorry, I’m a groover, or at least I’m known to groove from time to time, and I found myself using The Apes’ set, to try and imagine which songs I’d like to see Enon play.
The Apes concluded, to little fanfare. After much set up time and a Jackson 5 single that did nurture said grooving-tendencies, Enon took the stage. Opening with “Daughter In The House Of Fools” seemed like an odd choice, being a light, rather minimal sounding song, though played well in my ears as I readied for the sonic assault to follow (sorry, I’ve said “groove” too many times already). And Enon did me no wrong. I’m not one to extol undeserved virtues, especially when it comes to music, but Enon’s live show was absolutely wonderful, from track selection to stage presence, leaving me glowing more and more, with each subsequent song.
Yet I remain pissed, and I’m getting angrier the more I remember the fine points of this fine show. See, I do love Miami, as a whole. I think it’s a great place, and highly underrated, primarily by its own citizens. People love to complain, no matter what city they’re from, though I must say, Miami breeds a particularly whiney sort. They complain about lack of culture, lack of good music, lack of good clubs, and that there’s just “never anything to do.” This is all, of course, bullshit, as chronic complainers seem to enjoy complaining more than they enjoy getting what they complain about in the first place. They’d rather sit at home and continue to complain about no culture, than actually enjoy the culture you give them. You give them good music, and no one cares, instead opting to listen to the same thing they’re comfortable with, and complaining about lack of music. Aw hell, I’m getting ahead of myself again.
I sit here before you, trying to find a way to phrase this appropriately. To say the crowd gathered in the Red Room of the Soho Lounge tonight was “non-responsive” is letting them off too lightly. Then again, to liken them to a room full of paraplegics might be a bit too offensive, namely to paraplegics everywhere, some of whom I know still would have gotten down to this outstanding performance tonight. I can’t blame the venue either, I’ve been to numerous other shows at this spot, almost always able to count on a lively joint given the proper music. The promoters did their job well enough, bringing the music for everyone to enjoy. Alas, the blame falls directly on the audience’s shoulders. Tonight, the night of Friday, September 19th, it was catatonic.
I felt bad for Enon, I truly did. Hell, I’m even left feeling bad for The Apes, even though their music wasn’t my cup of tea. Please, please don’t judge Miami based on the crowd you saw tonight at Revolver for your show. I mentioned my love for Miami earlier, so as to point out that even I have to admit a horrid civic disappointment tonight. I’m astounded. I’m pissed. This was my show too.
Enon played every song I could have wanted them to play. We all know the disappointment when you show up to hear a band, only to find that they’ve passed over your favorite song. This was no problem with Enon. Beyond the opening “Daughter In The House Of Fools,” they proceeded to rock the place with the likes of (in no particular order) “Murder Sounds,” “Shave,” “The Power Of Yawning,” “Starcastic,” and one of my favorites of show, “Monsoon,” along with assorted others off their new album, Hocus Pocus. Not just promoting new material, a few of the best numbers of the night were off their previous album, High Society. “Disposable Parts,” “Carbonation” and their final song for the night, “Salty,” left me singing loudly in my car later on, almost causing an accident on I-195, which I still maintain was the fault of a stray pelican in the middle of the road.
Of course, I save mentioning the best for last, also off High Society, my own giddiness knew no bounds when I heard the drum intro of “In This City” cue up. As one of the better known songs in their catalog, hearing “In This City” live and in person, just had a particular rhythm, a definite style, a certain panache, if you will, that compels me to thank the musical gods for sending us this bit of blissful repose on an otherwise repetitive Friday night.
Of course, all this was lost on the crowd, who stood there, blankly staring at a stage and engaging in golf-claps whenever they thought appropriate. Everything about it; the way Toko Yasuda and John Schmersal would switch roles on bass and vocals every few songs to keep their sets (and albums) eclectic, spitting in the face of repetition; Matt Schulz’s energetic drumming, driving the songs at a perfectly danceable and (fine, I’ll say it again), groovalicious pace… all seemingly to no avail. I wish there was a way for me to have collectively smacked the entire population of the Soho Lounge upside their heads and scream, “What the hell is wrong with you people!”, though I’m pretty sure if I did, I’ve have been the one ejected from the building. Not that bouncers don’t appreciate someone walking around smacking the ignorant, but I’m not going to test that theory.
I can only gush so much. The stage presence, Schmersal acting energetic and fun, while not killing the mood with over-the-top antics (The Apes seemed to take care of that for them). Yasuda switching seamlessly from the subdued vocal style and corresponding actions of a song like “Shave,” to dancing around, throwing herself on top of speaker setups in the playful manner a song like “Salty” would dictate. Sure, this all seems like common sense for performers on a stage show, but most of us can attest to many bands’ inability to differentiate between what is playfully goofy and what is downright obnoxious. With Enon, everything just clicked, right down to the meek, smiling “Thank you!” Yasuda offered after each song, something that was, as my friend Kathy later said, “So adorable I just wanted to pick her up and put her in my pocket!” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I won’t be the one to deny the inherent coolness of such a petite girl jamming away on a bass guitar that seems to be, quite literally, twice her size.
Not to beat a dead horse, but this group attending the show needed to be beaten (and was very like a collective dead horse in many respects). In an effort not vilify those who aren’t deserving, I’d like to make a few notes. If you were: a tall guy with brown hair and beige button down shirt with a funky repetitive yellow design on it; a short Asian guy with glasses and a black shirt; a girl with hipster-style sunglasses in a short-sleeve red shirt with a little representation of the British flag on short-sleeves; or a guy with short-ish hair, combed and gelled straight forward down his forehead, with a pinstripe, button down, collared shirt… you are exempt from my venting with my own personal thanks. Those were the only people I saw with any life in them, cause as far as the rest of the group went, there was not even so much as a head-bob along with the beat to show that they were hearing the music. For cryin’ out loud, the head-bob is standard; even wallflowers bob their heads. I even spotted a handful of girls actually sitting down on the dance floor, having a smoke and chatting amongst themselves. I’m still astounded.
Still, the most insulting moment occurred just after Enon finished their set, said their thank you/check our album, and walked off stage. The DJ then cued up the same goddamned Le Tigre song (“Decepticon”), that has gotten overplayed every goddamned week at that club (not even possibly the newer version off their 2002 remix album), and of course, what happens? People I didn’t even know existed, cheer the song and absolutely flood the dance floor, grooving on a level that would make John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever, quake in his polyester suit. Ugh, the same group only wants to enjoy the same five songs, since the first day I moved to Miami and went to this club (and contributing to the reason I don’t go there anymore, unless there’s the proper live band motivation). Hell, I can even tell you the songs; Le Tigre: “Decepticon”, Peaches: “Fuck The Pain Away”, The White Stripes: “Hotel Yorba”, Miss Kittin: “Frank Sinatra”, and for number five, eh, just insert anything by Hot Hot Heat or The Faint or something, it’s all so repetitive anyway.
Not that I have anything specific against those artists or songs, but when a bunch of wannabe-hipsters stand by and wait to hear some familiar song they’ve heard a thousand times before (and probably four times already that night), to get back in their comfort zone and finally get a pulse, meanwhile ignoring a great band putting a great show… well, as I already said, I’m left feeling quite pissed off. I made it a point to buy a vinyl 12” of “In This City” from Ms. Yasuda following their set, thanking her for a great show, and internally hoping they hawk a lot of t-shirts for their time (as I sprinted from the club, having already heard three of the infamous five songs, and didn’t care to hear the rest).
Regardless of my disappointing venue, if Enon is coming to your town (with their US tour just underway, promoting their new album Hocus Pocus, I’m betting they are), it’s worth more than the effort to go out and see. Hell, after this great performance, I was toying with the idea of making the three hour drive up to Orlando to see them the following day, hopefully at a proper venue with some folks who care about a great show more than the next tired Le Tigre single.