Hidden Agenda: Go See Synthetic ID, DSTVV, and Moe! Staiano This Week
The music community is sharply divided over many things: whether a 12-inch record that has seven tracks and spins at 45 RPM constitutes an LP; the marketing efficacy of streaming an album in advance of its release date; or the position that live sound engineers are untrustworthy concert saboteurs. One debate is especially prevalent among upstart groups: to play out as much as possible or be selective about shows? Each approach has its drawbacks. In extreme cases, bands that accept every gig end up with their moniker mistaken for a club name due to its ubiquity on fliers. On the other hand, waiting for the ideal live debut with a lucrative guarantee looks smug and entitled.
Synthetic ID's story testifies to the merits of both views on gigging frequency. Following the release of the local quartet's 2012 debut, many enticing local rock bills bore its name. The band's slithering riffs and devastating rhythm section appealed to both hardcore devotees and dour post-punks, so Synthetic ID performed in varied live contexts -- and that eclectic company helped it remain engaging show after show.
Lately, Synthetic ID's live appearances are rarer, but not so infrequent that memories of its lean, powerful presence have faded. On the contrary: Synthetic ID's show with Airfix Kits, POW!, and Riflemen at Hemlock Tavern beckons attendance on Saturday, Feb. 22.
The web presence of local trio DSTVV shows an aesthetic built around Internet extremity, particularly where digital technology and youth culture collide. In the age of short-lived microgenres, DSTVV's online streams boast an array of bizarre tags: "grungegaze industrial," "tweetybird," "janglegaze," and so forth. The band's garish blog platforms host animated gifs. A photograph shows the band in front of a computer keyboard. The Molly Soda EP nods to a popular Tumblr account. This digital media assault seeps into the music, too, with its tuneful sheen of clipping guitar, keyboards, and drum machines, all tempered by wistful vocals. Cheeky, satirical, and committed to that 'netty, maximalist aesthetic, DSTVV appears live in the flesh on Friday, Feb. 21, at Hemlock Tavern with Snow Wite and Blood Sister. Cassette tapes will be available.
Moe! Staiano insists on stylizing his first name with an exclamation point. For the local experimental percussionist and composer, the emphatic bit of punctuation feels appropriate. Considering his musical output with avant-post-punk outfit Surplus 1980, and his work as a solo percussionist and bandleader of various experimental ensembles, Staiano likely takes his rhythms of speech as seriously as he does musical timing. Staiano headlines the third and final night of the Active Music Festival at Duende in Oakland on Saturday, Feb. 22, with Black Spirituals and Bischoff, Brown, & Perkis.