It’s Tuesday, which doesn’t really mean anything – somebody once decided that today should belong to Tiw, or Mars, the God of War, but today feels peaceful at least where I am – although, I recall something someone said about a show that happened every Tuesday night. It comes back to me: Make It Up Club. Yeah, I should go to that. If you’ve never heard of Make It Up Club don’t worry, the concept is very simple and won’t take long to explain. Musicians go to Bar Open on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. They bring instruments, but they don’t bring any songs. The music they play will come out of their brains and legs and throats and fingers in real-time. They will make it up.
I roll slowly down to Fitzroy in the blue-grey light after sunset, and arrive at Bar Open just in time to wrap my hand around a pint of yer cheapest and head upstairs. In the corner of the dimly lit, red-vinyl couch-clad room is a small stage, and a mirror in the back ceiling corner, angled so as to provide an inverted image of the performer up and behind them. Instruments and cables are scattered around the area, on and off stage, like dinner party leftovers.
It’s YAG YOK who descend on these scraps and begin beating and contorting them into a big, weird sound sculpture.
“Yaaaaag…..Yooook!” Comes a voice, screeching through a microphone, funneled through a tube of effects.
The voice belongs to Evelyn Morris, (Pikelet/Baseball/True Radical Miracle) whose main role tonight is hitting the drums. Flanking her are Chris Rainer on lap steel, and Morgan McWaters (The Emergency/WORNG) on synth. Morris’ drums run through heavy, breathy delay, creating an additional texture that functions almost as a fourth instrument, and she weaves various handheld percussion into the mix as well.
The jam builds and throbs variably, altogether noisy but still partially tonal, undeniably informed by pop music tropes – though they’re warped almost beyond recognition. I’m getting some Boredoms / Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 kinda vibes; rock gone almost totally abstract. Morris is both the glue holding the more meandering synth and guitar elements together, and the most distinctive creative voice, with expressive and often arrhythmic drum motifs mostly taking the stead of melodic phrases. Still, the haunting and thick textures of Rainer and McWaters are crucial and compelling. There are moments of glitched-out vocals and call-and-response interaction between instruments; the dynamic undulates, until finally dropping away entirely, and the set is over – as quickly and with as little fanfare as it begun.
Next it’s SCOTT O’HARA & KYNAN LAWLOR, both of whom are brandishing electric guitars, though one of the guitars is balanced on a drum and is “strummed” with the beating of one mallet while the other mallet gently patters on the drumskin. It’s a minimal, contemplative set: doom-lite guitar drone in an intermittent fashion, and synthesized string buzz weaving through the airwaves like a dream-sequence bumblebee. Formless, drifting, hazy: not exactly a memorable improvisation, but not unaffecting, either.
To bring it home and mash us into a pulp are a trio called BOUND FOR GLORY, which features Mark Groves, Leith Thomas and Sean McMorrow (all from Worst Electronics on Hand, while Groves and Thomas separately comprise Dead Boomers). Their “set” (it’s very much one continuous piece of sound, without much to demarcate one minute from the next or last) is ferocious and self-consciously brutalizing; the sounds seem to be emanating from acoustic objects with contact mics and/or synths maybe, but it’s largely irrelevant; what you end up with is a wall of sheer howling, blistering, industrial-buzzsaw-and-sander noise that bears no resemblance to anything commonly spoken of as music. Which is great! To be fair, a wall of noise only feels brutal for so long: after a few minutes, despite being painfully loud, it begins to numb itself, and though the kinetic gestures of the performs helps to maintain interest (there’s a lot of shaking things around, be they acoustic sound-generators or electronic contrillers), some sort of a counterpoint wouldn’t have gone astray – even just period silence. But hey, noise was evidently their goal tonight, and let it not be said that they didn’t nail it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a performance that was so definitively “noise” as this one.
Some time by the fireplace, a couple more ales, and I’m back out in the frosty air, a little extra pace in my heels to ensure I don’t miss the last bus-and-tram combination available for my homeward journey. So now I’ve been, my first Make It Up Club – I’m sure I’ll be back. There were moments I loved tonight, moments I didn’t care for – but you take the good with the bad; the spontaneous spoils and the unplanned disappointments; all possibilities are amplified in an improvisational context. Some musicians make it their business to improvise all the time, but most don’t, and a weekly night for that very purpose is a valuable thing. They say practice makes perfect, and good things come to those who wait, but “perfect” and “good” can be totally boring. Sometimes, it’s Tuesday, and all you want is a beautiful mess that never will – never could – be replicated. Make It Up Club delivers.