So Cropped Out 2012 fucking ruled. No surprise there. What was particularly refreshing this year, though: witnessing the coupling of the super friendly, blue collar riverfront resort from a bygone era American Turners Club with the serious momentum the festival had yet to establish when Cropped Out last graced these grounds in 2010. When you turned off River Road into the funky yet scenic facility, you entered a totally different realm, secluded from everything else going on in the city. Or on the planet for that matter. You’re fully enrolled in weirdo summer camp. Welcome to it.
Approaching Cropped Out’s big ‘Phreedom Hall’ stage just shy of 7:30 p.m., I got to utter words I never thought I’d be able to: “Oh hey, there’s Jandek.” Yep, Cropped Out up and called Corwood Industries, and there’s Jandek – tall, lanky, well sculpted skypiece, very shiny boots, and, I shit you not, cheesin’ like a motherfucker. Disturbed, maybe… but at least Jandek is happy about it. His performance was more of an extended jam session rather than the club bangers we all know and love from like Six and Six. And the improv featured a selection of Louisville musicians to ride the dark grooves, handpicked by the man himself: Sapat/Softcheque’s Dane Waters, The For Carnation’s Chris Wunderlich, Tropical Trash’s Jordan Richardson, and holy moly wouldn’t you know it… Thrill Jockey songstress Miss Catherine Irwin on the 4-string! The best part of the Jandek band’s performance though… the best part… was watching this dude run up to the stage and drop off a CD at Jandek’s feet. “Yo Jandek, peep my band’s disc one time when you get back to Houston.” What a cool ass thing to do.
The other internationally lauded recluse of the evening, Eugene Chadbourne, threw quite a curve ball. Propped against the backdrop of the Ohio River at night at the ‘Scully Alley’ stage (a corridor between Turners’ two main buildings), Chadbourne delivered a totally fucking pleasant 45 minute set of unadulterated steamboat folk – nothing more than frantic banjo strumming and storytelling somewhere between populist and surreal. It was fantastic. Chain and the Gang had enough energy for ten punk or hip-hop groups combined, and it appears local hodgepodge collective Twin Sister Radio, who delivered a particularly spirited performance, got the memo from Ian Svenonius about wearing red. Supression truly summoned “psych from hell” with crunchy, gut-punching headtrips all clocking in under a minute. The band also produced one of the most cost effective and inventive visual mediums I’ve seen employed by a psych rock act – agitating bowls of jelly on top of a simple elementary school projector. Canadian punks Lantern steamrolled through with one of the tightest sets of sludge I’ve heard in a minute. Honestly, everything and everyone ruled except for Slug Guts, who kinda sounded like a high school band covering The Birthday Party. Maybe it was an off night for them.
Cropped Out Fest is a Twilight Zone man, and already on the first night, the festival offered up the best year yet. And that says a lot.
THE SEDIMENT CLUB
TWIN SISTER RADIO
CHAIN & THE GANG