In the fall of 2010, the perennially weird and beautifully piecemeal Cropped Out launched their inaugural fest at a musty, virtually untouched for three decades country club-cum-resort on the banks of the Ohio River. It boasted a forward-thinking lineup predating the typical festival zeitgeist by at least two years (JEFF The Brotherhood, Julianna Barwick, Moon Duo). The following year brought a more adventurous lineup and a more taunting presence in a large Butchertown warehouse space that saw the accidental arrest of Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard’s David Yow by Louisville’s finest. The third annual Cropped Out returns to campy, eclectic riverfront resort from whence it came later this month, serving up a lineup that truly encapsulates, in theory and practice, everything strange, meta, and punk– combining the analog tape hiss of outsider artists, gritty wherewithal of DIY, and the hive mind of true Internet lulzery within an almost inconceivable brain-burning harvest.
Reclusive outsiders Jandek, eccentric home recording godfather R. Stevie Moore , Tim and Eric public access protege David Lieb Hart, and the unequivocally uncategorizable Eugene Chadbourne will all be on hand to make you feel weird. As well, the shapeshifting Ian Svenonius as Chain and the Gang, Tampa’s Merchandise, free jazz freaks Michael Zerang with Darin Gray, Dutch lute composer Jozef van Wissem, and (a very special hometown appearance from) David Pajo as Papa M all aim to twist the vibes toward the cathartic. America’s Funnyman Neil Hamburger is gonna do some cool jokes. And lest we forget a rare (in both senses of the word) Midwest appearance from deconstructionist Lil B, among a staggering swath of the country’s most intriguing subterranean dwellers. I can barely believe this is actually a thing. How unbelievably stoned our creator on high had to be to allow such ridiculousness to unfurl is beyond me, but it’s real and, if you’re within at least a day’s drive, it’s the chance of a lifetime to attend what is quite possibly North America’s most excitingly strange festival.
Friday and Saturday take place at American Turners Club (3125 River Road, Louisville) across three amazingly branded stages. Sunday happens in a cave. When you grip a ticket, you’ll find out more, but yes… a cave. A real cave. Also look for a new vendor’s market this year, which is clutch.
Alright, here’s the rundown…
SHE MIGHT BITE
Friday 5:30 – Turner Tavern
“She Might Bite [is a] fresh update of punk-era bands like the Slits and Gang of Four, with sharp, jagged guitars flying into pounding drums. They call it ‘punk-surf-garage-rock poetry’… oddly, they began as two sisters attempting to be folkies.” – LEO Weekly
Friday 5:55 – Scully Alley
Nasty, fuzzy slacker rock from the color saturated early ’90s is alive and well in Disco Doom’s native Zurich. Hope you kids like Big Muff and loose song pop structures.
RITCHIE WHITE ORCHESTRA
Friday 6:25 – Phreedom Hall
An exploration in aural dissonant lollipops perfect for the brain. Comprised of anyone and everybody the Orchestra has featured some distinguished collaborators in the past – Lydia Lunch, Stephin Merritt, Roddy Bottum, Matt Fishbeck and more. As Jacqueline Susaan writes, ‘You have to climb to the top of Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls’.” – Cropped Out
Friday 6:50 – Turner Tavern
In the anti-tradition of whitebread Bay Area thrash metal, the violent morass of New York no wave, and a familiarity with The Residents insanity, Microwaves draws from a palette that is somehow as wide as it seems limited. Spiked skronk-infested guitars spit tonality-impaired riffs like so much chaff from a surgically calibrated tree shredder, while a propulsive fretless bass assault is jammed through all manner of alien effects, often rendering it as more a bowel-rumbling presence than an actual instrument.
7:15 – Scully Alley
Since 2009, Gangly Youth has precipitated shredded psych vibes throughout Louisville, offering up our own little corner of C86-style cementgaze, or proto-dream pop straight from the garage. This co-ed team recently made folks feel real fuzzy and fleece-like opening up for Woods in April.
Friday 7:45 – Phreedom Hall
Winston Churchill was specifically referring to Russia when he coined the phrase “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” but it’s quite appropriate decades later when beginning any conversation about the reclusive Texas songwriter Jandek. He is the vanguard of outsider music and true maestro of what could be considered blues from hell. His guitar sounds like a nightmare. No one is completely sure of his given name (it’s thought to be Sterling Smith) or how much he’s recorded (approximately 60 albums from the shadow government arm Corwood Industries), but it’s generally agreed that Jandek not only crafted a distinct new sound, he deconstructed how we think about folk or pop – creating a vision in which outsider music and the aural equivalent of mental fracturing is artistically beautiful.
This Jandek performance will be especially memorable as both he and Cropped Out hand selected various local musicians able to tackle the challenge of a Jandek improv tour de force. The band includes Thrill Jockey luminary and Freakwater founder Catherine Irwin, Sapat/Softqueue/Another7Astronauts’ Dane Waters, Chris Wunderlich of The For Carnation, and more!
THE SEDIMENT CLUB
Friday 8:10 – Turner Tavern
The fact is that Brooklyn has shitty beaches, and anyone who says otherwise is fucking kidding themselves and you at the same time, and that’s just impolite. So it’s very refreshing to see good NYC acts that, despite being born years after, dig deep into the trenches and catacombs of the city’s storied no wave noise carnivale of yore and return with some fresh ass cuts that gives punk rock another needed kick in the wiener. The Sediment Club is one such offering.
Friday 8:35 – Scully Alley
“Listening to Buck Gooter you hear contradictions of caterwauling, cacophonous railing; screaming, snarling and gnashing hurled over drony beats and jarring guitar lines. One can’t help thinking to oneself if this is a white-trash parody of trailer park life, a punk-rock free-style or some sort of crypto-intellectualizing with a ciphered message.” – Cropped Out
Friday 9:05 – Phreedom Hall
Street Gnar is the nom de plume of the homie Case Mahan, who relocated from Lexington to New York (and perhaps back again I think?), dropped a tape on the do-no-wrong label from the Raccoo-oo-oon hombres Night People, and mashed potatah’d all up in Impose’s line of sight. Cool thing about Case is he likes all the shit you do – no wave, shoegaze, paisley underground, dream pop. Real shit. Raw shit. And he synthesizes those aesthetic through a one-man pop project that’s good for vibing in both your goin’ out trousers and sweatpants. His debut album Study Wall is really great.
Friday 9:55 – Scully Alley
“As far as I’m concerned, they are one of the only garage rock bands in the United States of America that don’t just repackage the Nuggets comp and sing about paisley daydreams and chocolate alarm clocks. They take it all the way back to Hasil Atkins, Link Wray, and Bo Diddley—and they make rock and roll sound scary again.” – Vice
Friday 10:25 – Phreedom Hall
With the auteure Sacred Bones’ tacit approval and design aesthetic on the cover, you know what’s inside the package has got to be good, and Brisbaine’s Slug Guts deliver. You may only be vaguely familiar with the name, but maybe that’s all you need. I mean, they are called Slug Guts, so certain expectations have already been established. But for more info, the guys all met in juvy, emanate an extremely gothic tinge to their punk proper palette a la their Birthday Party ancestry, and aim to agitate. They don’t often come stateside, save for appearances at SXSW, so enjoy this treat.
Friday 10:50 – Turner Tavern
“Indiana creepers TV Ghost, usher in a vile and squalid new disposition to ugly art punk, and have carved out a black hole of pestilence that will delight its sufferers to no end. If you can swim through the murky grime long enough to let your frazzled senses adjust, it’s clear how effectively TV Ghost incorporates the licentious nuances of the earliest Cramps scuzz, alongside cavernous bellows from the depths of the third layer of hell” – Cropped Out
Friday 11:15 – Scully Alley
At the crosshairs of Beefheart, John Cage, and The Shaggs, you’ll find one of the few artists that I find almost unlistenable. “Almost,” of course, is the operative word. Eugene Chadbourne adheres to no conventions, and as such, concocts a bizarre amalgam of jazz, bluegrass, and noise using little more than his small arsenal of banjos and guitars. Oh, and his electric rake (it’s a real rake). His unrelentingly bizarre approach to composition has seen him collaborate with the disparate likes of John Zorn, Jello Biafra, They Might Be Giants, and Sun City Girls.
CHAIN AND THE GANG
Friday 12:25 – Turner Tavern
Although probably more recognizable now as the host of his VBS show Soft Focus, conducting interviews that often teeter between the profound and the painfully awkward, Ian Svenonius would probably rather be remembered for his self-described “Gospel Yeh-Yeh” genre of soul and garage rock realized by his former band The Make Up or outsider punk vehicles Nation of Ulysses and Weird War. The newest incarnation of this notion, faux prison-gospel outfit Chain and the Gang is his least polarizing persona thus far. Chain and the Gang’s fucked Americana builds itself upon campy takes on Fun House rhythms, neurotic folk ballads, and archetypal melodies contorted with an off-beat sense of humor. Largely sung in a conversational manner, Svenonius tackles subjects from the value of a dollar to conspiracy theories: “I faked the moon landing, I saved Hitler’s brain. Yeah, it’s in Argentina, but it controls the USA.” Like a non-obnoxious version of The Moldy Peaches, the Gang tap into the irreverent energy of anti-folk to try and make their point. What is their point? Couldn’t tell you, but it’s a lot more fun than listening to NPR.
BINARY MARKETING SHOW
Saturday, 2:30 – Turner Tavern
“The Binary Marketing Show is a lo-fi, intensely experimental electro-pop and rock duo based out Brooklyn that’s produced a tiny little work of art I recently discovered called Clues From The Past. It’s a cozy collection of alluring ear candy that melds strange sonic textures with woozy horns, digital noise, found sounds and distant, haunting voices. Bethany Carder and Abram Morphew say they met in a post-apocalyptic world while “wandering the ancient underground tunnels beneath (a) mystical city, in search of a place that cured the loneliness of existing in one’s mind.” Heavy.” – NPR’s All Songs Considered
Saturday, 2:55 – Scully Alley
I ain’t even mad at this ambient Louisville group for naming themselves something practically im-fucking-possible to Google, as their latest full length Wetter Than Wet regresses my shit back to the good ol’ days chilling back in the embryonic fluid wherein I didn’t have to do shit or pay bills, just float around in utero and cold lamp it.
Saturday, 3:25 – Phreedom Hall
Free improv from members of Louisville’s veteran boundary pushing collective Sick City Four.
Saturday, 3:50 – Turner Tavern
“Cave Bears are less warped trad-rock insurgents than Situational melee given gooseflesh, amplification, and a counterfeit license to ill: a mind-fuck cocktail of Culturicide anti-demagoguery, Box the Bunny-era Bunnybrains schizophrenia, and Vieuphoria-interlude Frogs bile. To get the full effect, it’s essential to catch their live act, where the band feeds off the audience’s collective vibe.” – The Village Voice
Saturday, 4:15 – Scully Alley
Massive free ensemble from Louisville which features a revolving cast of over 50 musicians including members of Sapat, Valley of Ashes, Virgin Eye Blood Brothers, Son of Earth, Taiwan Death and The Belgian Waffles.
Saturday, 4:45 – Phreedom Hall
“Bold as it might seem, we feel that it’s safe to proclaim Alan aka Raw Thug (aka Arsenio Zignoto aka Arthur Kalow aka The Brothers San Angeliquez aka…) to be Louisville, Kentucky’s very own Magical Power Mako (from the earlier end of that spectrum, of course). Yes, we all know that in this post-Pessoa musical landscape the usage of shifting pseudonyms and heteronyms are quite the fashion. Who doesn’t like sporting a new mask every once in a while, right? Raw Thug, however, is just one of many distinct and self-contained musical cosmologies blooming from this good gentleman’s noggin. Having done time in many of Louisville’s finer subterranean outfits, most notably as a mainstay in Sapat (whose “Mortise and Tenon” LP on Siltbreeze from a while back was a real gem of head-spinning, free-spirit group-think), it’s safe to say that Alan is fully comfortable occupying his own musical territory.” – Volcanic Tongue
Saturday, 5:10 – Turner Tavern
Michael Zerang has been a professional musician, composer, and producer since 1976, focusing extensively on improvised music, free jazz, contemporary composition, puppet theater, experimental theater, and international musical forms. As a percussionist and composer, Michael has over 80 titles in his discography and has toured nationally and internationally to 33 countries since 1981, and works with and ever-widening pool of collaborators.
Darin Gray is an American musician and composer best known for playing bass in St. Louis’ Dazzling Killmen, and with Jim O’Rourke in Brise-Glace and on O’Rourke’s solo albums. A prolific musician since the ’80s, Darin has appeared on albums ranging from noise to math rock. Besides Dazzling Killmen and Brise-Glace, he played in Yona-Kit, You Fantastic!, Sad Lewis, Grand Ulena, and On Fillmore. Darin’s collaborators include Jim O’Rourke, Glenn Kotche, Gastr del Sol, Bunnygrunt, Chris Corsano, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Cheer-Accident, Kevin Drumm, Bobby Conn, Early Day Miners, and KK Null among others.
Saturday, 5:35 – Scully Alley
Adam Brewer is kinda fascinating. He’s full mountain man – heavy drawl, knife wielding, versed in the hollers of the mountains. Musically, imagine a Hasil Adkins character as a noise punk. His menacing noise squall lives up to the foreboding swimming blobs of organic horror his namesake evokes. This dude’s rad as shit, and man can he thrash. Check out the recent mini-doc on him.
Saturday, 6:05 – Phreedom Hall
Dahm Capolla is the mastermind behind (in my opinion) the best band out of Louisville since Rodan – Phantom Family Halo. To my knowledge, this is one of his first appearances as a solo performer since relocating to Brooklyn in early 2011. I can speak at great length about Phantom, however, and I’ll go on and quote TDT from October 2009, when they released their sprawling double LP Monoliths & These Flowers Never Die – a nasty psych-glam-protometal primordial headtrip that still kicks me in the dick on a regular basis. “The grainy, dry psychedelia found within evokes both an intimacy and mystery not often found in this genre. If you knew nothing else about them, you’d probaby be baffled as to who they are, where they came from, and what they want from you. They probably like it that way. Phantom Family Halo doesn’t float above the horizon line like the flower power groups do – they’re standing behind you.”
Saturday, 6:30 – Turner Tavern
“On their [latest EP], Cool Memories utilized every sound available. From breaking glass to angelic vocals to fuzzy guitar solos, Debt is filled with a mixture of delicate and darkness, and really captures the raw emotion of all involved. The album is honestly epic in sound and scope, but like so many, fall below the radar.” – Deli Chicago
Saturday, 7:25 – Phreedom Hall
Back when wall of sound meant something, when no wave guitar squalls and pouding post-industrial rhythmic pop could catalyze cataclysmic pole shifts, the trippy as all hell Crys was in the back of the classroom taking notes. This far under the radar act will undoubtedly inflict irreparable collateral damage to your cerebral cortex as well as your ulna-radius system (i.e. head music you can fist pump to).
Saturday, 7:50 – Turner Tavern
“In Shaved Women’s songs, I hear great bands of yore, like The Fiendz, The Freeze, early Circle Jerks and Black Flag. Real punks are brutally sincere and earnest in their work—no poseurs allowed, and these are some of the most talented -and downright amicable- dudes you will meet playing HxCx today.” - WFMU
Saturday, 8:45 – Phreedom Hall
“Mind-altering substances are a huge part of the PC Worship vocabulary and you get the sense their use here is not for the acquisition of blissed-out love. Drugs are for escape from the shit and the mulch and the deep, but the band also acknowledges that your world can get more evil when you take them. PC Worship seem to say that sometimes getting dark and evil is necessary for your personal growth – anyone who can’t see the full-spectrum of their own emotion is hiding behind a mask.” – IMPOSE
Saturday, 9:25 – Spooky Beach
What is the Spooky Beach?! A new stage hath appeared from the dirges of the Ohio River’s own Atlantis just for Ashcan Orchestra, the audio/visual vehicle of composer P. Spadine noodling with a large collection of toy, re-appropriated, and traditional instruments. Since 2007, the ensemble has been popping up in D.I.Y. style and art house venues thoughout NYC and the eastern seaboard, employing everything from children’s handbells, prepared tape recorders, stacks of discarded televisions, homemade circuitry, colored lightbulbs, mirrors, and more widely accepted noisemakers to create new music in forms more familiar than the instrumentation would lead the listener to believe. Hailing from the nefarious Le Wallet, Ashcan has shared space, members, and ideas with many like minded groups like Chubby Behemoth, LuxLuxLuster, Cavex, and Cropped Out alums PC Worship and The Dreebs.
DAVID LIEBE HART
Saturday, 9:10 – Turner Tavern
You know him from Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job obviously, but more importantly, David Liebe Hart truly delivered the surreal nature of late night public access aesthetics in a package that, through its unbridled weirdness, made sense on a large scale – much like Ariel Pink in that regard. Beyond his Adult Swim roles, Liebe is an outsider musician, street performer, sign painter, artist, puppeteer and actor who has produced the storied televised puppet show The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program for over a decade in Los Angeles. Hart is the Bob Dylan of public access core, and as such, his Cropped Out appearance is undoubtedly a serious treat. David will be preforming with a full band too, and they’re kinda loud! I’m fucking stoked.
Saturday, 9:35 – Scully Alley
“Guerilla Toss has all the makings of experimental greatness: irregular time signatures, an off-putting name, and a singer utterly devoid of self-consciousness. After a few seconds of stumbling around mumbling gibberish as if in a trance, frontwoman Kassie Carlson took a deep breath and let fly a syncopated barrage of screams as ear-piercing as they were exciting to the moshing all-ages crowd, and her male band mates occasionally joined in. As their short, explosive set sped towards the finish line, I thought at turns of Primus, Captain Beefheart, AIDS Wolf, an evil carnival, and Ponytail. But where the late Ponytail dealt in free-flowing, half-improvised compositions, this chaos seemed more or less planned. Their energy was also a good bit thrashier and darker, though certainly not without humor.” - Village Voice
Saturday, 10:05 – Phreedom Hall
“Merchandise’s conflicted feelings about genre are understandable: One of the most interesting things about Children of Desire is, despite being crafted from familiar parts, how damn hard it is to peg. A cursory blog search will tell you that Merchandise play an amalgamation of post-punk or shoegaze or noise pop or pretty much any confluence of notable indie offshoots that gained momentum during the 1980s, and while you certainly wouldn’t be faulted for making similar connections, something about such broad distinctions doesn’t do the band justice. Trying to figure out where Children of Desire fits is not only a fruitless endeavor, it marginalizes the ambition that acts as the record’s most visible engine.” – Pitchfork (7.8 by the way)
R. STEVIE MOORE
Saturday, 10:30 – Turner Tavern
R. Stevie Moore is a goddamned legend, and if I even have to present an argument as to why, I’d kindly ask you to exit my blog. Lo-fi? Moore invented that? Bedroom pop? That’s all him. The Tumblr blog bands and the musical trajectory of the past half decade owe everything to him. Get initiated with the recently released documentary about Moore’s life and music, Arnaud Maguet’s I Am a Genius (And There’s Nothing I Can Do About It). The grandad of cool, believe.
Saturday, 11:05 – Scully Alley
Terrorizing social media shills on Twitter and audience members expecting traditional comedy in a neatly wrapped package, Neil Hamburger is the crust punk of anti-comedy (touring more with bands than other comedians). Along with fellow Cropped Out performer David Liebe Hart, America’s Funnyman helped define the comedic language of hyper-meta, almost Dada comic irony of the Tim and Eric cult. However, Neil (born Greg Turkington) has been sleeping in cardboard boxes in the desert performing for hotel lobbies for much, much longer. Neil is an American hero. You kids like jokes? Neil’s got some jokes for ya. Pre-party at the Golden Corral on Dixie Highway beforehand. Be sure to wear your favorite AXE fragrance.
Saturday, 11:45 – Phreedom Hall
*sips water* OK… where to start with Lil B. Well first, Bitch mob at American Turners, holy shit.
Beyond just the sheer prolific nature of his output (dude put out an 800+ track mixtape last year), the Oakland-based MC is probably the world’s first rapper truly reared from and geared toward the Internet. He started his career by building hundreds of MySpace accounts to host his tracks. He shouts out Pitchfork and 4Chan in his verses. He exhibits the idiosyncratic and esoteric persona that the Internet tends to celebrate. Like Guided By Voice, Lil B is down to release everything he records and leaves it to the fans to sort through what’s good and what’s sonic bullshit. The term ‘deconstructionist’ gets thrown around a lot, and that’s a damn fine reference point for the uninitiated. He recorded a new age album and produced both the worst and most amazing freestyle during his interview with Narduwar. He cooks. Lil B rarely tours so don’t flub the chance to experience Twin Peaks hip hop culture in the flesh. Protect Lil B at all costs.
JOZEF VAN WISSEM
Jozef Van Wissem kicks off the more intimate but nonetheless bombastic Cropped Out closing party. Wissem is a Dutch minimalist lute composer who gives lectures at colleges around the world, amalgamates Renaissance vibes with avant field recordings, wrote the soundtrack to the medieval version of The Sims, and is gearing up to drop a collaborative effort with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. If your interest isn’t piqued beyond a level of scientific notation, I don’t know what to do for you.
Recent Kentucky transplant and Ecstatic Peace do-gooder James Jackson Toth, known to the world as Wooden Wand, is a maverick, good-hearted troubadour whose blend of smoky Americana has been garnering plaudits for the last decade. Unafraid to mix psychedelic workouts with sweet and soulful country, his varied and prolific output has resulted in a wealth of lyrically rich songs; the kind whose lines stick in your head for a lifetime.
Papa M is one of the many moniker of Louisville’s guitar god David Pajo. His importance cannot be understated, from punk-metal founders Maurice, to the era-defining Slint, to his work with King Kong, The Palace Brothers, Stereolab, Royal Trux, The For Carnation, Tortoise and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. Pajo’s fucking ridiculous. These days, Pajo has gone quiet… and plans to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
In 1995, Pajo started the M franchise, issuing a single and a split single in short order. As Aerial M, he released several singles, a self-titled album and a remix album. As Papa M, he produced three full-length albums. In 2002, Pajo joined Billy Corgan’s Zwan, with whom he released an album and toured the world for two years. It was during this time that he started the Papa M singles series. Hole of Burning Alms appeared in 2004 – to date, the last Papa M record. Since then, David Pajo has recorded as Pajo, including an acoustic tribute to The Misfits, Scream With Me. Pajo plays solo very sparingly, as he spends most of his touring time traversing the globe as a member of acts like Interpol and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Also, shitty fucking disgusting wine! See you there!