As you recall from our last field report, the revelation of this underground activity shook our understanding of how the local music scene operated, and we were determined to find the truth. Tonight we will share what we discovered about the shifting power dynamics between different music styles in the Capital District. The changes become more extreme every year: post-punk, pop-punk, vaporwave, techno-sludge, all battling not only for our ears and our wallets, but our hearts.
We want to learn if this network of musicians battling for rank can explain the mystery of why certain genres are popular one year and panned the next. If these absurdities somehow manage to bring balance to the erratic energy of the local music scene, then our terrifying foray into this darkness will not be in vain.
We left you last time waiting for the match to begin. We were allowed briefly to approach the ring and speak to the performers and promoters. We caught the attention of Scene Mayor/Master of Ceremonies Bobby Carlton, who leaned over the ropes for a quick interview. When asked about the lineup and the odds, he responded artfully as the seasoned politician he is; “These semi-finals always get me a little anxious,” he said, smoothing his lapels. “It’s distressing to see a solid post-punk band that worked really hard doing rough shows over one of our famously shitty Capital District winters come down here and throw it all into the ring. The battle is really for the supremacy over the summer season lineups, for all those good-weather gigs and festivals. And often this is only to lose out to some experimental noise artist from the suburbs that will move to Brooklyn in a month anyway. They might lose on a costume technicality, a chair to the back of the head, anything really! But we have to allow a fair fight. It’s an egalitarian system, really.”
E.S. Cormac, a.k.a. Lord Humongous, doing some deep hamstring stretches next to Bob, agreed. “Yes, it is some hard street justice served down here. Draconian, even.” He and his band-mate and tag-team battler, Kat Celentano, a.k.a. Yukari Hitsugi, took a quiet moment to sip mineral water from matching silver flasks.
“But how else would these things be decided?” Lord Humungous whispered. “No one votes. No one buys anything anymore.” Hitsugi agreed with a sad shake of her head and delicately tipped some water into the mouth of Mr. Whiskers, the smartly-dressed cat on Lord Humungous’ shoulder.
Suddenly, the starting bell clanged. Mr. Whiskers leaped from his shoulder perch to his chair in the VIP section. Bob returned to his place at the center mic. A team of Luchadore battle-fluffers hurried the strutting, hyped-up fighters into their corners. The noise of the crowd and the wrestlers throwing insults at one another was deafening.
Holy PinkSlip hollered across the crowd for last bets and then waved over Keith of Che Guevara T-shirt to help escort us back to our seats in the press box. We asked Keith if he was here to support his band’s drummer and rookie fighter, John Olander, a.k.a. The Big O.
Keith frowned and said through clenched teeth, “He knows the consequences if he loses again.” Holy PinkSlip checked her clipboard and clucked, “Yikes. 18-1 tonight. Says here ‘his energy level was so inconsistent working on the last CGT album, he lost all his backers.’”
Overhearing our conversation, event commentator Philip Donnelly covered his mic and laughed, “Sure, but look at him. You wouldn’t guess he’s the long shot.” Into the mic, he purred, “Well folks, looks like the Big O, is quite the smooth lounge lizard for tonight’s match.” The Big O, a beautiful woman draped on each arm, strolled around the ring in a floor-length, crushed velvet smoking jacket. The crowd gasped as the women pulled the jacket from his shoulders to reveal that his costume consisted only of black silk pantaloons and Persian slippers.
Christopher Brown, a.k.a. The Cipher, back-flipped across the ring and barged into Hans Christopher, a.k.a. Primo Voyager, who roared, “Hack! Steal costumes much?!”
Behind us, a woman wearing a veil and a black cocktail dress and leaning over a drawing pad whispered, “This doesn’t look good for Primo. He’s already on the defensive. And his match hasn’t even started. See, he represents the self-effacing rogue artists among us. The sardonic solo performers. There’s just not enough muscle behind that. It’s too much for one man!” She sighed. “I’m capturing the irony of that, visually, for the Super Dark zine.” We stayed respectfully quiet as she began sketching.
Primo Voyager pulled at his black tights and gestured rudely at The Cipher. “I’m in black tights! You have black tights! How’s anyone supposed to tell us apart?!”
“You’re topless, Primo. And The Cipher is dressed like a Ninja,” Hitsugi interrupted, trying to separate them. “Save it for the match, you two!” shouted Koko, bouncing across the canvas. The Cipher shouldered Primo Voyager roughly and glared at the crowd as he smoothed his mustache.
Phil announced: “There’s Chris Brown, a.k.a. The Cipher! Headlining tonight in the main event, tag-teaming with Koko Chaos against Lord Humongous and Yukari Hitsugi.”
“Don’t say my real name, Donnelly!” The Cipher shrieked, tearing around the ring. He hurled a giant brass gong at the press box. The crowd screamed and the row in front of us scattered. “Where the hell did he get that?” Anonymous Coward asked nervously from behind the broadcasting equipment. His companion flicked a scathing side-eye at him and said under her breath, “Who can even tell anymore.”
“The gong! That’s mine, dammit,” El Gran Mofongo moaned. “There goes my liability insurance, you ass!” He charged across the canvas at the Cipher.
“Looks like it’s all happening, ready or not,” sighed Phil into the mic. “Here is John Prusinski, a.k.a. El Gran Mofongo! He is normally one mellow fellow, but he’s already out of order with a Rip Snorter around the Cipher’s neck. This wasn’t even his battle, but here we are. Not to be outdone, here’s the Big O sneaking up on Mofongo. Looks like he’s feeling froggy. Yes, folks, he jumped and Mofongo was just bounced clean out of the ring.”
Lord Humongous cackled in amusement, did a few more lunges against the rope and blew a kiss to his cat before flinging himself at Koko Chaos.
“Speaking of chaos,” Phil yelled into the mic; “in the other corner we have John Gill, a.k.a. The Glowering Inferno, trying to get the Big O’s attention. He’s asking to be tagged in. Here he is, running a brutal Reverse Sneaky Pete on Mofongo, who just had an epic fail with his trusty Triple Lutz! Hitsugi has tagged in with Lord Humongous and is up on the corner ropes about to drop in with a Deadly Omelet but—what’s this—Hitsugi has spotted some attractive person in the audience with unusually lush eyebrows and—yes folks, Hitsugi is out. Lord Humongous and Koko are circling each other like panthers; this could get dangerous. Will he use his Inverted Monsanto? The Deep State? Are they any match for her Hustle? This is anyone’s match, folks.”
We watched in shock as the scene changed suddenly. Koko stared off into space and tilted her head. “Shh! Don’t you hear that? Listen to the sound it makes when his body hits the mat!” She grabbed Lord Humongous’s arm and gestured toward the Cipher throwing Primo Voyager repeatedly against the mat. “BWOOV, BWOOV, BWOOV” Lord Humongous said, nodding along with Koko Chaos. She peeled her shiny silver gloves off and exclaimed, “Right? We gotta sample that beat, that is gold. Come on!” Mofongo tore himself away from the Big O and shouted, “Me too! That’s going to sound amazing through my Temporal Disruptor pedal!”
Primo Voyager rolled away from the Cipher and stood with dignity. “Pardon me, but this all just…it just reminded me of something someone said to me a long time ago…someone I loved…” He did a swan dive out of the ring and out into the alley where he could freestyle in peace. The Cipher wiped himself off and reached into a fold in his tights, pulling out a small, fragrant moleskin notebook. “I need to go write this down into lyrics for a song before I lose it” he said in a husky voice and crept out of the ring in search of a dark corner where he could write undisturbed.
Hitsugi had snuck back into the ring and tried to tackle The Glowering Inferno but was now stuck at arm’s length from him, straining her forehead against his palm, her arms pinwheeling in the air. They made eye contact. The Inferno suddenly looked unsure of himself and she seemed to share his moment of doubt. “Why are we doing this?” The Inferno murmured. “Any of this?” Hitsugi stopped struggling and dropped to a crouch. “I don’t know,” she whispered. He sat down cross-legged in front of her and pulled a small packet of gummy bears from his union suit, offering her a few. “There must be a better way than all this violence, sound and fury.” They engaged in a deep conversation as silence started to fall over the emptying arena.
Bobby C. and Phil tried to summarize for the listeners. For all of us. “I think that’s a wrap, everyone! Thanks for coming! Thanks to our sponsors!” Bob shouted and hurried from the ring. Phil explained into the mic, “Well, Hitsugi and the Inferno seem to be exploring some kind of existential crisis, the Cipher and Primo Voyager are… writing songs or something…and Lord Mofongo and our headliners, Koko and Lord Humongous, all seem to be setting up to record various sounds from this event to make music…”
“Great. Just what this music scene needed: another experimental noise collaboration supergroup,” someone snidely commented from the shadows behind the VIP section.
It looks like nothing was decided here, no one won anything, and our understanding of the idiosyncracies of the capital district underground music scene is now even worse than ever (though there are clearly many more layers of ridiculousness to it). If it were up to us, the true winner of this over hyped circle jerk of a Luche Libre match would be the cutting, sarcastic comment we heard at the end.
This is Ne Nee Taartulas reporting for Times Boredom.