Thursday, September 23, 2004

Tyondai Braxton, Friends Forever/Asterisk Art Space/Sept.21,2004

Tyondai Braxton / Friends Forever

Asterisk Art Space / Corner of Johnson and White Streets
Sept. 21, 2004

Even though I arrived a good two hours after the posted start time for this benefit for the wonderful East River Music Project, the first act had just started when I got there. Upon seeing how everybody was cramped into a tiny, hot room, I decided to skip Hale Zukas and Dan Friel in favor of getting some food at Loco Burrito. I returned to Asterisk in time for Tyondai Braxton’s set. He sat cross-legged on the stage, surrounded by a bunch of pedals and various other pieces of equipment, holding a guitar and a microphone. For the next half-hour or so, Braxton proceeded to play or sing or beat-box a few seconds of sound, which he recorded and then looped over and over again. Then he’d play something else, record it, and layer it over what he had just looped. And on and on... It was cool at first, but after awhile I became preoccupied with reading what the girl sitting in front of me was text-messaging on her cellphone.

Then … Friends Forever!!!

For those of you who don’t know, Friends Forever are a trio of crazy Colorado freakazoids who don’t play on stage, instead parking their van and performing in front of it (except for the drummer, who stays inside the vehicle). They are also quite fond of explosives. Their performance on the corner of Johnson and White streets (a block away from Asterisk) featured a dizzying array of sparklers, roman candles, fireworks and assorted other smoky, smelly toys. At one point, flames started shooting out of one of the van’s windows, and we all shouted “THE VAN’S ON FIRE!!!” until some people bearing jugs of water appeared. As if all that wasn’t enough, a bunch of inflated objects suddenly appeared out of nowhere, including a swimming pool raft, a large blue ball made out of a tarp, and an enormous ghost with a pentagram, a Jewish star, an upside-down cross and “NFL” drawn on it.

Everybody went nuts. People sitting on top of the van started bouncing so hard I thought the van was going to fall over. One of the Japanther dudes stood in front of me frantically air-drumming the entire time. Everything smelled like burned hair. Cars driving by slowed down to gawk. And, most amazing of all, the cops didn’t come!

Oh, the music? Buzzing, noisy, made me jump up and down. That’s really all I can remember.