Wednesday, 25 June 2014 10:41

‘68 Returns to Grand Rapids to Unleash In Humor and Sadness

Written by  Robby Hartley
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Listener wsg ‘68, Cave Needles, Homeless Gospel Choir
Take Hold Church, Grand Rapids
July 8, 9:30 p.m.
$10

It was Grand Rapids in October 2013 where Josh Scogin’s former metal band, the Chariot, made its final Michigan appearance. By the following April, it’s also where his new project, ‘68, spread its wings.

Apart from South By Southwest and South By So What?!, that was the first show we [‘68] actually played,” said Scogin, vocalist and guitarist for ‘68. “I didn'tknow what to expect, but it was very enjoyable for me because I enjoy not knowing what to expect.”

Likewise, there were few ways Grand Rapids could have been prepared. The duo of Scogin and former Becoming the Archetype drummer, Michael McClellan, released no material by the show's date except a 7” vinyl with two tracks, which sold out in less than a day after its online release and wasn't re-released until the day of the show.

Grand Rapids is no stranger to two-man acts such as ‘68, however. Fes2val 2011 was the city’s latest celebration of local and regional two-man bands, making it a great launch pad for ‘68’s debut full length album, In Humor and Sadness, due July 8, when the band comes back to town.

I’m enjoying my time right now with the mystery that’s involved," Scogin said. "It’s cool to have this clean slate. A lot of times at live shows, people would come up and be like, ‘Man, I didn'teven know what to expect,’ and as an artist, it’s very nice to not have those preconceived notions. But as much as I’m enjoying right now, it will definitely be nice to be past that process and in terms of live shows, have everybody involved and the camaraderie that rock shows bring.”

Scogin's passion for gritty live recordings, rife with human error for the sake of rock-and-roll, will continue with In Humor and Sadness. In fact, ‘68 went so hardcore making the album that you will actually hear their audio equipment breaking (don’t worry, that sound coming from your speakers isn'tyour speakers).

Just don’t expect the Chariot 2.0 or old-school Norma Jean reprised. After all, Scogin is holding a guitar this time around. Scogin’s shift to a two-man band maintains similar musical ideologies to his former bands, but was spurred by the challenge of working with limited human resources to create a wall of sound a la garage rock, post-punk and Americana.

Scogin’s shift is also a challenge to the audience, quite literally in the case of ‘68’s latest music video for “Track Two,” which was released in two separate videos – one featuring only Scogin playing while the other features only McClellan playing – and the listener must sync up the videos in order to hear the full track.

It's rathertricky to pair the videos perfectly with the play buttons' lag time, but the tracks play surprisingly well together unsynchronized, to the point that listeners could create many permutations of the same song. It all comes back to accentuating the harmony of human error and raw, non-digitized qualities in ‘68’s style.

The thing I enjoyed with the Chariot and I’ll hopefully be able to say with ‘68 is that we had a very smart audience,” Scogin said. “Our music’s not very easy to swallow and sometimes it can be stressful and sort of chaotic, but I think it makes you dig deeper and find the beauty in that.”

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