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Anyone who's ever been to an electronic music concert featuring laptop performers (we often have them here in NYC at Tonic) knows there ain't much to look at. Paper Rad, the Providence-based art collective, went through the entire repertoire of stage moves last night [June 27] at the closing event for "Blinky," an exhibition at New York's Foxy Productions. Concentrating intensely--check; nodding sagely--got it; leaning over to look at a band member's screen--several times; avoiding eye contact with the audience--consistently. The only problem with all this sincere, scientific-looking activity was it had nothing to do with the sound coming out of the speakers: the "laptops" were Fisher Price toys with colored yarn for cables and the music was a prerecorded mishmash of stop-and-start drumming and desultory, singing-in-the-shower vocals--all completely non-digital. You gotta admire a group willing to exhaust an audience's patience to make a point.
Considerably more exuberant was the act that preceded it: the reunion concert of New Yorkers Cory and Jamie Arcangel, who last performed together as hockey-mask and fright-wig wearing metal teens in Buffalo (documented on a hilarious home video). The duo, now civic-mindedly decked out in Sabres T-shirts and caps, demonstrated a Nintendo Duck Hunt game scrambled to electronic hash with a Game Genie, and then challenged Williamsburg's vaunted electroclash scene with an infectious tribute to Miami Bass titled--why kid around?--"Booty." While an 8-bit computer pumped the bass, Jamie rapped through a heavily-distorted microphone, Cory played electric guitar on his back, and the crowd got down. The last performer, Towondo Clayborn of Occasional Detroit, had a hard act to follow after all this insanity, but did an extended, intermittently dazzling set of hip hop electro noize that had people wandering in off the street (and also leaving--the philistines!). Think a bipolar union of Anti-Pop Consortium and Detrechno, with inspired segues between the two modes, plus off-the-top-of-the-(hot)head lyrics that gave new meaning to the term "loose."
A couple of other photos of this event are here.