I like performing at Sun Space. What is Sun Space, you may ask? It’s this crazy-cool-artists-collective-hang-out-live-music-poetry-comedy-performance-totally-out-there spot in Sun Land (near Pasadina… yes, it really exists), founded by Noel Rhodes.
I first met Noel when I was invited to see his band Fergus Show play in Topanga by an old college friend. It was a neat out of the way venue up in the mountains, forget where exactly; the kind of place that you think only exists in your imagination. After waiting a bit, strange music started and someone, an apparition, came out wearing a big papier-mâché mask. The man in the mask starting singing, by pulling his mouth open using a draw-string.
It was weird and cool. And unusual. My friend and I couldn’t stop laughing. We filmed it on our iPhones; we had to. This must be documented and shared. Then, the band came out and started playing these great original songs. Really catchy, too. It turned into a great night.
I became Facebook friends with Noel, who was the man behind the mask. One day, I posted a video of myself playing the Gymnopédie No. 1, by Erik Satie, to Facebook. Noel saw it, and asked me if I’d like to play at his show, something called Unusual Tuesday. I said, ‘sure!’
Unusual Tuesday was unlike anything I’d seen before. They opened with skits involving the papier-mâché masks; one sings, just like I’d seen in Fergus show. Then another comes out and plays clarinet to subterranean syncopations, ultimately squeaking until he gets so frustrated with his performance that he eats his own instrument; another comes out with a mounted iPhone for a mouth, shouting and exhorting who knows what.
Then the last one, a hideous creature, starts carousing about the stage, playing the drum set… until the unlikely hero, Noel, comes out in a sparkling red hat and shoes, red blazer, and tames the beast by hypnotizing it. Then he cuts into the giant head, and pulls out various random objects, trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Which is inevitably: UNUSAL TUESDAY.
After that, a bunch of truly unique acts perform. Before I knew it, I was up, and played my Erik Satie piece. To round out the night, Noel returned with a character called Austin Drizzles, who discussed ultra-local news and weather patterns in a truly bizarre and hilarious way. What’s tonight’s weather? The answer, always: Normal and Dark.
The rest is history. I’ve been playing there, on and off, ever since, and have met a lot of really cool and talented people through the space. The thing about Sun Space is that it feels like a thing by friends, for friends; where everyone is welcome and the weirder, the better; far enough from Hollywood to be free of that icky Hollywood feeling. A place where experimentation is encouraged and everyone is super friendly.
Which leads me into last week’s performance, a song about Pikachu, which I sung and accompanied myself on with beats I created in Ableton Live. I guess I’m trying to figure out something that feels ‘new’ to do in music, if that’s possible. Here it is.