Last Night: Mission Creek Music Fest w/ Tussle

Categories: Last Night

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Mission Creek Music Festival
w/ Tussle, Christopher Willits, The Drift
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Gray Area Gallery/Fat City

Words and images by Jennifer Maerz

Better than: a full moon rave in Bonny Doon on a school night

Raving came up quite often in conversation at last night's Mission Creek show at Fat City. I think it started with the space itself, which felt sorta underground (and by underground, I guess I mean the Gray Area Gallery has definitely moved across the street since I went there last, and like a dumbass it took me a good while to find it). But we figured out the address, then figured out the entrance, then walked through two sets of doors (from the Gray Area Gallery to Fat City) to get to the band room, and low and behold, the Mission Creek party full of Mission District types was in full effect, lone beach ball sailing through the air.

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I was with my friend J, an old school raver from Santa Cruz, and we started talking about the Full Moon raves they held down there in the '90s. The Mission Creek party was bringing back memories: of girls doing trippy dances in the sand (part of last night's show involved a modern dance trio doing bendy things through the crowd); of an occasional backdrop of kaleidoscopic visuals on a sheet (ambient laptop 'n' guitar wizard Christopher Willits performed a set with nature scenes being projected from his iMac); and of shitty bathrooms where the toilet paper's gone, and the wet bar napkins on the floor are totally unusable (just like at Fat City!). Ah the old days.

Thankfully, though, "dance" music's gotten much more creative on the West Coast in recent years. My favorite style is the heavily rhythmic, Krautrock-influenced jams of acts like Tussle. The band came on stage late (on a school night! Unfortunately the crowd had kinda dissipated a bit by the time they started playing well after midnight). Tussle just picked up their instruments and started jamming with Willits on his last two songs, creating a mix of live and programmed beats that in was super heavy on percussion (after all, Tussle performs with two drummers facing one another on stage).

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I've seen Tussle play before and they're good at juicing up the static limbs of a stationary crowd. But last night it was mostly a sea of bobbing heads due to the late hour. A couple fans made their valiant efforts, though, including a mustachioed dude who was one of the best dancers I've seen in a long time (he didn't "move" so much as his body stayed stiff as a board while his shoulders shook with some kind of inner electrocution) and a drunk girl who liked to slide under people's legs.

Honestly it was a little anti-climatic. Not because of Tussle's performance, which I pretty much always enjoy, but because on a weeknight you don't need that many acts on a bill (six total, half of whom I missed). It leaks the energy (i.e. all the other people who came out) from the room. But hey, what I did see I really enjoyed -- from Tussle to Christopher Willits to the Drift, who had a beautiful Miles Davis trumpet thing ribboning through their instrumental post rock.

In the end I think one of the biggest differences between that old rave scene and a Thursday night out at an experimental arts festival (well, besides the fact that the music, the art, and the color palates are so much better now) -- folks just don't want to stay out all night when they're staying sober enough to go to work in the morning. Myself included. Cause at this point, I'm barely coherent enough to write a crappy little Last Night review.

P.S. The Gray Area Gallery had some cool paintings up in their current group show.

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