The bespectacled roadie looked over us with a gaze that seemed to penetrate deeply into our extra-dimensional selves.
“You. Horse,” he declared, throwing a horse costume at my friend, Lee. “Elephant,” as Rupert caught the ridiculous elephant outfit out of the air. Finally I was bestowed with my alternate persona, and as I held it in my arms, I understand the enormity of my task. To don Gumby’s visage, one must really dig deep. His skin was my own, (I wore no clothes underneath), his life, my life.
And so, when Starfucker performed their closing cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” Gumby rode his horse onto stage into a maelstrom of pelvis thrusts and interspecies loving that culminated in me crowd-surfing, being endlessly felt in my green felt suit.
(That’s us on the far left for not even a second.)
However, way before that, I handed Jeremy Malvin of Chrome Sparks a tiny blue flower as we met up outside the Music Farm in Charleston. Along with keyboard player Jesse Brickel (Young Yeller), we all took a walk to Closed for Business for a little light dinner and then burgers. We exchanged pleasantries/fries and then had to get to the venue.
We felt the opener, Feelings, before Chrome Sparks had to take the stage, now with their drummer, Bill DeLelles (Kazimier). These stunning young men proceeded to kick off their set and attract the attention of the mass as soon as Jeremy, with a pretty blue flower resting on his ear, gave his initial two nods to the drummer, much like an orchestral conductor who had lost both his arms in some terrible accident.
Jeremy had hands, though, and they were busy beginning to unleash a vibe-alanche to the unsuspecting crowd. Starting off slow, the songs began to gain momentum, and gifted the audience with drops that fell all the way from nirvana.
And the moment that each drop crashed upon us, preempted often by an impressively beat-stuffed roll on the drums (or the finesse of an equally heavy sounding electronic drum pad), an accompanying projection would show something synchronized and spectacular. The visuals consisted of scenes from shows such as Aeon Flux, and also displayed beautiful pixel landscapes of every one of my favorite colors that I desperately wished I could turn into a sweater for my funeral, (maybe morbid, maybe best visuals for real though). Like a train picking up speed, eventually, the songs became more frenzied, and more demanding of the band, and yet, they kept up seemingly effortlessly.
The audience, at first, would nod, understandingly, as they navigated the dense synth forests Chrome Sparks planted for them. However, once the band sicced jungle cats of 808-style rhythms on the crowd, the leisurely mosey broke into a run. There was one fan in particular who was caught up in the pulsing tones, so much so that at a cursory glance, one would assume they were watching some form of interactive theater piece. However, once this one-man-mosh-theater infected those around him with his madness, he was suddenly enveloped in a bedlam of eccentrically jerking audience members. It was beautiful to see the crowd get utterly lost in Chrome Sparks’ intricately woven wilderness.
Ending on an unreleased song that can only be described as a twerk ode born in a test tube optimized for mathematically-exciting ultrahype glory, they left the stage to a buzzy and energized audience.
Rupert, Lee, and I all followed Jeremy up a flight of stairs to a green room that overlooked the stage and audience from an inside windows, (for some reason I’m in love with inside-outside things. Which is why I like children’s museums and A Night at the Roxbury.) Grabbing some beers and sitting down with him, we gained some insight into Malvin’s arts and sciences. Doing our best to not simply pore over how radical his music/performance is/was like reading a receipt, we started discussing the parallels between bands and relationships, (“I just got out of a band, so I’m not looking for anything serious right now,” or “I’m just trying to jam.”) Most importantly, we discovered his spirit animal.
“It sounds like everyone’s stepping up their games for their spirit animals, more than just, you know, an aardvark or a whale, it’s, like, an aardvark with a purpose or a whale with a dream.”
“So what’s yours?”
“An eagle with a tattoo.”
“A tattoo of what?”
“I’m an eagle with a tattoo of just a guy’s head.”
A brilliant choice, (though it may be a Farside comic already), we moved on to focused more explicity on his music.
“In your heart of hearts, do you miss drumming?”
Jeremy lets out a reluctant groan. He has drummed for groups like Stepdad and Miniature Tigers, and began drumming at the age of two.
“NUHNHH yes. Once this EP is out, I’ll have a lot more time to play drums with other bands in the area.”
We then went on to discuss his deliciously butcherous usage of sampling.
“What do you look for in a sample?”
“You don’t look for a sample, a sample finds you… but mostly butter. Like crispy butter. If you took a stick of butter, you coated it in Crisco, then stuck in the oven at 360 degrees for three to six days.”
And, attention ladies, jaboi can cook!
“I like spicin’ up ramen with veggies and seaweed. I sometimes put salami in there.”
Also, at one point, the other band joins in, I gush over Bill’s magic fills, and we share a spontaneous moment of literal harmony.
Around then is when we were recruited into the furry army.
BUT THERE’S MORE. As we parted ways and said our farewells to Chrome Sparks, we had no idea that in only a week we’d be seeing these yahooligans come to our lovely city of Columbia- which is continued in part two. Here’s a preview.