Club Mercy On the Rise
Club Mercy Blows Up the Indie Scene
LET US NOW PRAISE THE CLUB: Pleasurable shocks of recognition and solidarity accompanied my read of last week’s Independent cover story, D.J. Palladino‘s paean to the wonders of the semi-secret cultural treasury of indie rock-and its kinfolk, indie pop and indie folk. I, too, have drunk the Indie Kool-Aid, am a better person for it, and am beyond the age of 25. (Next year, I will have chalked up as many years on the planet as there are cards in a deck, although, conversely and perversely, each year makes me feel lighter, as if playing with less and less of a full deck.)
One serious omission in D.J.’s account, though, was a proper acknowledgment of a remarkable and possibly revolutionary local forum for this music-the phenom known as Club Mercy. Crazed music fan and enlightened promoter, humble, hirsute Jeffrey Shuman has run Club Mercy for a few years now, ushering significant indie shows into various venues-mostly SOhO, Velvet Jones, Muddy Waters, and the Mercury Lounge.
Of late, Club Mercy has been going nuts, in the best way, bringing to our little town the likes of pumpkin-smashing Billy Corgan (in the compact, and totally packed, Muddy Waters last Thursday), Built to Spill, and ace boot-gazer/Fleet Fox drummer J. Tillman, Blitzen Trapper (a few times), Devendra Banhart, the bird and the bee, Jens Lekman, and, to cite two of this year’s most bodacious recent rock shows (sez this columnist), the Meat Puppets and the mandible-droppingly amazing Deerhoof.
More than its ancestor the rock scene, which has traditionally been greased by the corporate wheels of marketing machinery and hype, the indie rock scene tends to rise, fall, and simmer via a blissfully organic process. Word of mouth and word of mouse, the blogosphere, and other means beyond the control of corporate goons are the favored means of communication. The cultural landscape is constantly shifting, and this year’s hotlist is next year’s veteran list. This revolution will, generally, not be televised, so hearing the stuff takes work. Outlets include college radio, on your terrestrial radio, and streaming on your computer (including the miraculous KCSB-check the necessarily varied, checkerboard schedule), and even, believe it or not, the AOL Radio indie rock channel.
Thankfully, because of the lack of media exposure, this music can regularly be caught live at clubs and venues, including venues near us, thanks largely to the Mercy beat. Wouldn’t it be nice, to quote Brian Wilson, if Club Mercy could bump up to the level of, say, the Lobero? That beloved theater affords a righteous ambience for indie-ish musical matters, as witnessed relatively recently in memorable shows there by My Morning Jacket and EELS. For the moment, new inspiration-seeking rock fan geezers and other as-yet unhipped indie-rock-fans-in-training from the 805 should bookmark this page: clubmercy.com.
NOT-GUILTY PLEASURE OF THE WEEK: Before Peter Frampton‘s Frampton Comes Alive double album sent him into the stratosphere and then laid the groundwork for a career crash landing, Frampton had sturdy respectability going for him, as a nimble guitarist with a few fine post-Humble Pie solo albums, and a tasty rock-pop-soulful sound. There’s a whole lot more to Frampton than a multimillion-selling “where is he now” story and talk-boxing commercials, as we should learn when Frampton plays Chumash Casino next Thursday.
CITY OF SWINGING ANGELS: For anyone who has long longed for a reasonable and artistic jazz festival in our seething urbopolis to the south, a response to the picnic-minded inanities of the Playboy Jazz Festival, and at least the makings of something important, are brewing. The Angel City Jazz Festival, which takes place on Sunday and Monday at the Ford Amphitheater (across the 101 from the Playboy’s roost, the Hollywood Bowl), has been gaining traction, and this year’s lineup is the best yet. On the list are Dave Douglas‘s super-cool Lester Bowie tribute band, Brass Ecstasy, Wayne Horvitz‘s intriguing adventure in the chamber jazz chamber, Gravitas Quartet, and bands led by L.A.’s inspired Cline Boys, Nels and Alex. Got wheels and a hankering for creative jazz? Check it out.