Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Various Artists 

Live From the Afterworld --Recordings at the Afterworld Lounge 1991-1993
(Electro Motive Records/ Qualipy)
Clit Stop Live CD Sampler
(Swezlex Recordings)

Wednesday, May 17 2000
The Bay Area has seen many fringe music venues come and go in the last decade, the Afterworld Lounge being one of several establishments that provided an outlet for more adventurous performers before falling victim to legal snafus and/or unfortunate circumstance. Located at a downtown Oakland Vietnamese establishment called Heinz Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge, for some 17 months the Afterworld Lounge hosted a world-class cavalcade of cutting-edge music, local and beyond.

Unpaid rent and no cabaret license reportedly helped padlock the Heinz; the After-world Lounge carried on for a short while in other venues. A "fairy godmother" handed Afterworld booker Lexa Walsh two grand as a sort of renegade arts grant, and the end result years later is the recent release of the vinyl double-LP Live From the Afterworld. As Walsh notes, it's a fractional document, but one that captures the flavor of a watershed period in the local avant-garde scene. Side A is locals only, devoted to some of the stalwart indie types who were pivotal to the East Bay scene; tracks by Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Fibulator, Little My, Three Day Stubble, Vomit Launch, O-Type, and the Molecules represent each band definitively. Side B features combos from other parts: Sun City Girls (Phoenix via Seattle), Mecca Normal (Vancouver), C.C.C.C. & the Ruins (Japan), and Caroliner Rainbow Scrambled Egg Taken for a Wife (18th-century time-travelers). Sides C and D are crammed with the spaz-jazz and avant-whatsit the East Bay so prolifically spawns, with Vacuum Tree Head, Pluto, Rova Saxophone Quartet, Splatter Trio, Crawling With Tarts, and others providing an engaging variety of bleating horns, angular improv, and esoteric experimentalism. Far removed from straight-from-the-board flatness, this anthology is colored with exuberant crowds, passing sirens, onstage banter -- a bittersweet flashback for those who were there.

For more than a year, a cozy art space at 557 Howard called the Clit Stop (soon to be Hot Rodney's Bar and Grill) has been hosting showcases at the edge of the odd. Packaged betwixt transdimensional erotic cover art and a track listing of the 38 artists involved is a testament to the exceptional versatility of noise: From dynamic chatter and clatter to old-school power electronics and rawkish roar, there's cacophony for all on this disc. Thrill to the splintered electronic shards of Ghlorgeschlect; marvel at German sax player Frank Gratkowski's sonic approximation of balloon animals mating; witness Symplx generating creaky, clanky noise on homemade electronics; gasp at the electroacoustic discombobulation of Commode Minstrels in Bullface; frequently wonder if your speakers are supposed to be doing "that." Some of the players on Afterworld pop up at the Clit Stop as well, including the ubiquitous Three Day Stubble, Donald Slusser, and, oddly, Japanese sax shrieker Tamio Shiraishi. There are some "names" on this CD and a bunch of more "obscure" artists, but the real reason to seek this thing out is the sheer scope and bounty of its audio perplexity. The only place to obtain this under-the-radar primer may very well be its namesake venue; which is good an excuse as any to go check it out. While it's still there.

About The Author

Mike Rowell


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"