Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Club 930 in DC presents "The Shpongletron Experience" (and what is it?)

Tonight, I finally made it to a show at the Club 930 on V Street in Washington DC (near Howard University and the Town-DC. The basic website for the venue (and this concert) is this

Because the club accepts all ages for admission and most shows are rather “PG-13” in nature, it is very strict about identifying everyone for alcohol. You put your hand down on what looks like a fingerprint press to get a readmission stamp .

The venue is run is an manner similar to "Poisson Rouge" in New York, which I discussed here Oct. 19, 2010, with shows most days and different artists almost every day, and apparently opportunities for new artists to appear.

The show tonight was “The Shpongletron Experience” by The Shpongle.   What is this? It’s about like asking “What Is the Event”?   Wikipedia describes it as a psychedelic trance project from the UK.  You can check “Twisted Music” (link) or Australia’s site. Here is their tour itinerary on Jambase, link.  "Coast to Coast" has an informatory link here.  I also see that Shpongle has its own Blogger thread here

Let me give my own summary of what I saw. I arrived at the scheduled 7 PM; the formal “show” started right around 8 PM.  The set has a Zardoz-Head with various appendages.  The first part of the show comprised a young man playing “drums” (of sort) to music that sounded as if came from a chase scene in NBC’s “The Event”.  I expected Sofia to appear any moment.  Behind the bongo player was a video screen with very creatively conceived animation, mostly consisting of two kinds of sequences. One set is a series of settings, where one is in some sort of urban canyon on another planet (after an abduction, or perhaps passing at death), in some great artificial chasm, that changes appearance. As in a dream (“Inception”), you don’t know how you got there. Another set comprises organic shapes evolving into life-forms, often toward the arthropod or mollusk, as if to show the possibilities for extraterrestrial life. Other additions to the video seem to recall Koyaanisqatsai. This part of the show embeds an independent film experience as well as a stage component.

Then, around 10 PM, much of the stage is broken down, and followed by a second “post-Intermission”, where all kinds of organic images are placed on the Zardoz-head and the appendages, including the Roving Eye of a Stephen King novel.  The DJ sits on top.

The show as not sold out at the beginning, but by 9 PM the dance floor was pretty full, and there was a waiting line outside as I left about 10:30.  The crowd was “mixed” and even "mainstream" (some people I recognized from Town and Cobalt, along with plenty of people from the straight slate side of college life (as shown in “The Social Network”, perhaps  -- plenty of "thirsty scholars" here).  But it was the behavior on the floor that was interesting.  “Dirty dancing” was minimal (this is supposed to be OK for kids, as I said, more or less PG-like). Instead, much of the crowd raised its arms and then jumped vigorously in unison, exactly as Arthur C. Clarke describes on the final page of his novel “Childhood’s End” (and I don’t know why that isn’t a movie yet).  The psybience takes over, as the celebrants join together in a common experience, losing some part of individual consciousness, willing to accept the idea that a future universe may have fewer fully granualized indivuals and instead emphasis a shared journey. It’s a daring but necessary thought.

I met some people; one group was there for a birthday party; then I encountered a “just married” (I think) couple (man and woman – you have to say that these days in DC) who did not have the financial backing of William and Catherine but had the same celebratory spirit. Maggie Gallgaher would be pleased.

It’s rather amazing to see that so many people in this age group and in this economy can afford to fill a place like this up on a spring weeknight. Just as in a conventional disco, most people here look lean and healthy, as if self-selected.  Real world exercise is good for you.

Shpongle Official has a YouTube video excerpt to watch here:

Let me add one dancer's "physic's experiment" with lights and "persistence of vision" that takes in stills only by playing with shutter speed. In motion, it's effective.

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