Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mike Dillon's Gogo Jungle @ Dan's Silverleaf

I don’t go to a lot of shows without knowing the performers, and I haven’t actually done so in years until Friday, when Dan’s Silverleaf brought in Mike Dillon’s Gogo Jungle. I decided to go based on four criteria: The band’s name kicks ass, it was described as punk/experimental rock, this punk music was led by a vibraphone, and the only picture I could find of the band had Vibraphonist Mike Dillon sweating, thrashing the vibes in a fur vest. I was sold.

I had the show time wrong, so got to the bar way, way too early, but conveniently didn’t have to pay a cover. The place was deserted and, never having worn a watch and not having a very good internal sense of time, when I stood around with my Shiner or two, I got nervous that nobody was going to show up. Eventually, they did but, seeing who was showing, I wished I had been the only person there. Two distinct groups showed. One was a group of 8-10 middle-aged, well-dressed people who looked like they’d just got off work and congregated at Dan’s for a little drinking and vibes. The other was a gaggle of hippies just out of a drum circle…not a good sign. Now, I have no inherent problem with true-blue hippies. They have a philosophy that, while I may not completely understand, works for them and they are harmless. However, the privileged, trust-fund hippy that populated my, and many other, pretentious, high-tone college drives me crazy. There’s very little of the selfless communist philosophy in the decision to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to college, because you can, for the express purpose of getting stoned and playing drums (news flash, Moonbeam, go to the fucking park). Anyway, it was these two groups and me, totaling probably less than thirty total people watching when the band got on stage.

Dillon himself looks like a complete cretin. Slouched, tattooed, and kind of mean looking, it seemed like the punk epithet might be true. He was set up with the set of vibraphones and a little kit of homemade drums. Especially for how rough he looked, it was surprising the changes in subtlety and speed he made. These parts of the show were best, and sometimes very fine. When he went to his little kit, though, it became simple jam-band pretension and this is when the hippies started spinning, closer and closer to me until I had to move to get away from the smell of patchouli. The drummer, “Gogo,” and the bass player, “Jungle,” (get it, Mike Dillon’s Gogo Jungle) were both excellent but, make no mistake, this was neither experimental rock or punk. It runs more closely to Herbie Hancock or Medeski, Martin, and Wood than anything. It had its moments. I bought the CD, more because I’d attended the show for free, and the unique instrumentation was interesting, but I would really like to see people of this skill level rise above simple party band posturing.