Over the Weekend: August 22-24, 2008
I'm not going to lie: I didn't go to a show on Friday night. It was weird, since Friday happens to be one of the prime nights to catch live music in this town, and it gave me a slightly off-kilter feeling for the rest of the weekend. Just as the shakes were about to set in on Saturday, though, I made my way down to the Hexagon Bar and was delighted by a series of surprises.
The first surprise, actually, wasn't so delightful. When I pulled up to the Hexagon, I was greeted by a giant crowd that flooded onto the patio and out into the street, and the doorman was actually turning people away. It was a sight I had never seen at the Hex before, and I'm convinced that it was mostly due to a couple of well-read local blogs who let slip that both P.O.S. and Vampire Hands were slated to play unannounced sets.
After a brief moment of panic/confusion, the doorman started letting in more people and I made my way inside. Luckily, a good 75 percent of the hipsters who hang out at the Hex are habitual cigarette smokers, and it allowed the audience to ebb and flow between the stage, bar, and patio and keep things reasonably comfortable and spacious despite the at-capacity volume.
The party at the Hex served two purposes: launching the latest issue of Rift Magazine, and celebrating the birthday of a young woman named Robyn, whose name was rejoiced many times throughout the night and who, I am guessing, was responsible for lining up all the sweet surprise musical guests.
Solid Gold. Photo by me.
Once inside, I was able to catch the back end of a set by Solid Gold, a band that I had been hearing about for months but hadn't seen live. I was blown away by these guys. Their chilled-out shoegaze music reminded me quite a bit of M83, with twinkling, pulsing synths and persistent guitar feedback layered densely over funk bass lines and electronic drumbeats, and the members of the band appeared confident and relaxed despite the throngs of people milling in and out of the room.
Next up was a "secret" set by Stef Alexander, aka P.O.S., and he used the opportunity to debut a handful of new songs. Accompanied by a little machine that looked like a more complex version of a Speak and Spell, P.O.S. cued up beats and rapped verses about girls and politics to an excited, increasingly rambunctious crowd. "You guys are all about the 'wooo's tonight," laughed P.O.S. between songs. "It's freaking me out. How about you just say, 'Hey, good job Stef!'"
P.O.S. clearly enjoyed playing for a room of acquaintances, leaning into the crowd to fist-bump with old friends and beaming as he bounced around the little stage. He ended his short set with a favorite from last year's Audition, "Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered)," and a new song that included a crowd chant of "Woah... We're so thirsty!"
The entire bar dumped back out onto the sidewalk for another collective cigarette, and then migrated back to the stage as soon as Vampire Hands started to play. Vampire Hands have concocted a style of indie rock that teeters perfectly between gritty, experimental, and poppy, and their popularity seems to grow exponentially with every show they play. I have a feeling that their September tour through the South and up the East Coast might help them to win over a whole new set of fans.