Shoegaze fans, stand in solidarity; Kalamashoegazer is back.
Now in it’s eighth year running, the show is West Michigan’s yearly bloodrite to the dreamy swells we know and love as shoegaze. With performances from longtime K-Zoo players glowfriends and Crash City Saints, this year also features sets from Dear Tracks (Grand Rapids), Panda Riot (Chicago), Brief Candles (Milwaukee) and others.
Other than being a show where a lot of people would be down to talk about Loveless or Nowhere, which is totally fine, Kalamashoegazer is a tradition more long-running than a lot of self-described mini-fests and an event that draws delightfully spacey music enthusiasts.
For Dear Tracks’ guitarist Matt Messore, the attractive part of a shoegaze show is what draws a lot of people in: the capacity for experimentation and soundscaping within the style.
“[It’s] almost like being in your own world, where you can create your own rhythm, time and mood,” Messore said.
Joshua Garman, of Crash City Saints, agreed (albeit with mystic eloquence).
“It’s that sublime tension that comes when guitar noise experimentalism slams head first into a classic pop sensibility,” Garman said. “Like, a twin juggling act, for a moment they work together to defy gravity.”
Far from just a niche genre, shoegaze came up in a big way during the ‘80s and ‘90s in the UK while grunge was building speed stateside. Bands like My Bloody Valentine (from Ireland) and The Jesus and Mary Chain (from Scotland) took listeners for a new sort of ride, demonstrating a healthy reliance on equipment to mold the swell and “wall of sound” vibe that are now trademark to the genre.
Some corners of the Internet will tell you the term “shoegaze” comes from the inherent tendency of the performer to be looking at their feet, which control the guitar’s effects pedals that control the tone. When I asked Garman what his favorite pedal was, he said, “That’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child!”
Regardless of whether you’re a guitar techie or not, Garman said it’s a good opportunity to check out a different corner of the already-eclectic Kalamazoo music scene.
“... For a city its size, Kalamazoo has a vibrant and eclectic music scene that could rival many major cities,” he said. “There are far worse places to be stranded in the Midwest.”
It’s also a good chance to check out some new tunes from Crash City Saints, which is currently putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to its debut album Glow In The Dark Music.
The show kicks off at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11 at Louie’s Trophy House Grill.
Grand Rapids, say hello to two new record labels. Sorority Vomit, technically a “cassette label slash art collective” headed by Indiana imports Shane Gettig and Tim McGinn, kicked things off last month with a show at Vertigo Music for Cassette Store Day (Sept. 27) to celebrate the release of the Doomed Boy EP from local outfit Super Medusa. Gettig said Sorority Vomit will be putting out limited quantity cassette releases and hosting more shows this fall.
dizzybird records, headed by Grand Rapids locals Nicole LaRae and Brian Hoekstra, is also stepping out into the light this month, with a launch party scheduled for Oct. 17 at The Pyramid Scheme. The label’s first two releases, a 7” from Atlanta-based Gringo Starr and a 10” titled Solstice from Grand Rapids’ own Heaters, will be released the same day. For more on Dizzybird Records, click here.
Double Phelix, Kalamazoo’s beloved venue/studio/collective, hosted its last show at the 505 E. Kalamazoo Ave. location on Sept. 27 and announced it would be moving to a new, unannounced space. Keep your eyes peeled.
Welp, autumn is pretty much here. Soak in the season at Founders’ Harvest Party on Oct. 11 with Whiskey Shivers, The Hooten Hallers, The Carboys and Angela Sheik.
There’s at least one confirmed Halloween dance party with tunes that don’t suck: Grand Rapids’ Stepdad will be playing the Pyramid Scheme with Sphynx and Flint Eastwood on Friday, Oct. 31. Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door.