Neon Marshmallow Music Festival at The Empty Bottle on Saturday June 11, 2011.
The experimental music scene is a pretty tight community as I rediscovered this weekend at the Neon Marshmallow Fest (curated by the Neon Blossom cassette label and acid-marshmallow.net, the fest sounds like a rave, but wasn't). Musicians, superfans and folks working the merch table chatted about their favorite live sets from Terrastock psych festivals, the sunset at a memorable Burning Man party and their favorite Spiral Joy Band albums.
Neon Marshmallow Fest was a three night epic with live sets starting as early as 7pm—but I just hopped over Saturday catching Sickness, Bill Orcutt, Oneohtrix Point Never and Pelt. Orcutt, in particular, was a revelation—his extreme dynamics on the prepared acoustic guitar and almost subhumanoid vocal work were executed with a high level of mastery. Oneohtrix Point Never's soundtracky electronics were full, lush and still brainy, but almost too easy to digest in what was otherwise a raft of extreme and challenging sounds. Pelt, originally from Richmond, VA, I've seen a few times before and oddly enough, Pelt's Patrick Best and I once played in a Virginia punk/pre-emo band together long before he met his first gong. That the band has become legendary—and that it worked with late legend Jack Rose, you may already know. Pelt worked a gong and bells for a droning, mind-clearing 25 minutes (or so it seemed) to open its set before exploring other avenues of drone.
What I loved about the few hours I was at the fest was the rapt and respectful attention of the audience, its applause and approval and music-focus—there were no A&R men to be found and while some performers have had nice careers and have landed some big tours here and there, there was very little of a pecking order to be found.