Cochina Fest is an annual event occurring this year on June 5 and 6 at Higginbotham Park in Claremont. Festival coordinator Chris Payne forbids the featured acts from using any electric instruments that aren’t battery-powered, but Chris stresses that Cochina is “not an acoustic showcase.”
“We strive to incorporate all kinds of styles of music into the festival each year,” he says, describing a lineup that includes artists as diverse as John Thill (an acoustic singer-songwriter called “The Bruce Springsteen of Pomona Valley” before his late-2008 departure to greener pastures in Napa) and Nora Keyes (who sounds like a mix of the Sex Gang Children, a broken carnival ride, and a punch in the stomach).
The artists involved also have a great deal of latitude when it comes to how, exactly, they will reinterpret their sound for the festival. According to Chris, “while there will be some people who play acoustic guitar, it is far from limited to that… Battery powered amps, noise-makers, keyboards, toys, and the like are acceptable.”
Last week on SEANCARNAGE.COM, you were treated to profiles and mp3s from four of the groups that are playing Cochina.
This week we feature four more acts, each of which will strive to present something a bit more offbeat than the folk sounds that pop into the minds of most people when they hear the words “unplugged concert in the park.”
Band: No Babies
MP3: Flesh Mountain
from an upcoming release on Upset the Rhythm.
Called “an ever changing cast of anonymous friends” by member Sean Nieves, No Babies is a frenetic punk outfit whose songs feature herky-jerky blasts of guitars and various horns and whose shows are propelled by “openness, improvisation, and guest players.” After Cochina, the band is going on a West Coast jaunt with Hawnay Troof, who doubtlessly expects them to rage at every show. Sean’s explanation of their unplugged setup gives us every reason to expect anything but quaintness:
“If you’ve seen us play, then you’ve seen friends sit in on trumpet, saxophone or vocals. Or maybe we were just shoving mics and instruments into strangers’ hands who didn’t necessarily know how to play them. Once we were supposed to play at a leather bar in San Francisco but when we got there, they refused to let us play (certain no-babes were too youthy). Rather than play without our offending members, we walked across the alley and set up in the bus parking lot across the street. Bereft of electricity, we pounded two drum kits and reinterpreted our songs by the seat of our pants on bass clarinet, saxophone and trumpet. This time around, we are rearranging some songs for outdoors with brass, reeds, strings, boxes and broken cymbals.”
Artist: Nicole Kidman
MP3: I’m in Love with a Jehovah’s Witness
from Teen Worship (Obeast)
Monday regulars already know Jon Barba, whose intimate and cathartic performances as Nicole Kidman have become to stuff of legend. Jon answered my question about Cochina with characteristic self-depreciation, but fans shouldn’t bristle when he says he “sucks.” He’s not just a bedroom musician; he’s a craftsman and a perfectionist. As such, he’ll probably never accept the excellence of his own performances:
“Nicole Kidman sucks with electricity so I’m really planning on it sucking hardcore without electricity. I’m hoping the sounds of the kids on the swing sets and the birds and wind will drown out my set. That’d be cool. I don’t really know what im going to do that day other than have all my equipment there, set it all up, and just really try and make it a good good set. I haven’t played a good set yet, like ever. The roots of my music are in the IE, so I’m setting it up in my head for that one to be the best yet. I’ll talk about everything I’ve always talked about—I do a lot of talking when I play—but I’ll try and make what I say actually make sense this time.”
Artist: Kyle H. Mabson
MP3: Symphony in D
from Wozzeck II
It would be impossible to overestimate the contribution of Kyle Mabson to the landscape of post-Cagean Angelino classical music. Mr. Mabson has long been challenging and inspiring audiences large and small with his radical re-interpretation of modern forms. At the helm of the acclaimed Kyle Mabson Ensemble, the Maestro is often featured at the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He has shown extreme humility by appearing at the last few Cochinas. It was nothing short of an honor to interview him:
“I am planning something very experimental for my upcoming performance at Cochina Festival 2010. As this is my fifth year in a row performing, I really have to do something exciting. My background is in twelve-tone composition (Anton Webern/Arnold Schoenberg/Alban Berg, etc), a form of composition primarily focusing on dissonant pitch language to make atonal work. The piece I am working on reflects these influences and also takes inspiration from later artists such as Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. I believe my piece will surprise and delight my audience.”
Artist: the Comedy Stylings of Peter Moran
from an upcoming 7″, 12″, or cassette
Everyone has gone bananas over Peter’s band Essay (watch the SEANCARNAGE.COM exclusive video here), which played pants-less at Pehr last week! The only bad thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about Essay (which is actually a good thing, anyway) is “their set is too short.” Peter is going to be doing something at Cochina, but from this I can’t really say I know what it will be:
“The track is called ‘Air.’ I made it while hallucinating. I got the drug from a musician. Parts of the song feature 1120 airhorns per minute. It has nothing to do with my comedy though. But for both, I rehearse to be as pro as possible. The game’s tricky and I gotta stay on top. I got a 7inch coming out called The Comedy Stylings of Peter Moran—Not Your Mama’s Yo Mama Jokes. It might be a cassette, so noise fans might buy it. Actually, I’d rather put it out myself on vinyl than have to deal with those meth smokers. I’m going for the more upscale, new vinyl-buying market. I’ll put some weird Arabian scales, or maybe some Afro-pop behind my jokes. Maybe it should be a twelve-inch for the DJs that still spin vinyl? So many questions to deal with. My life is complicated.”
Make sure that you return to the site on Friday, when we unveil a video playlist of the Cochina artists’ favorite moments from the history of MTV’s Unplugged series.
Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages
Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown
See you there?
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