On Land Festival Offers A Peek Into The Bay's More Adventurous Sounds at Cafe Du Nord


“Damn it! Why the hell do I live on the East Coast?? And why is this in September??” was one comment on the SF experimental-music label Root Strata’s blog, trumpeting the humble On Land Festival (Sept. 19-20 at Cafe du Nord) hailing from the outside edges of a sprawling Left Coast noise and experimental music scene. If you happened to have missed the collection of sound artists performing as part of Mission Creek Music Festival’s Collision series, here’s another chance to check out a slew of ambitious sonic scientists and out-folk performers with explosive imaginations and Bay roots (cultivated in warehouses and spaces like 5lowershop and 21 Grand) when this three-show gathering bunks down at du Nord and sister venue Swedish American Music Hall, thanks to the imprint, KUSF, and KALX.

A quick glance at the schedule shows that this is more than a vanity project for Root Strata co-honcho Maxwell Croy, who plays koto alongside John Davis (also showing his Super-8 films) on Saturday afternoon. That show’s headliner Starving Weirdos are the biggest question mark in my book, since I’ve never seen them live, but the outfit -- comprising Humboldt County natives Brian Pyle (a KHSU DJ) and Merrick McKinlay -- sounds absolutely magnetic: the duo crafts electroacoustic soundscapes, staggering in their eerie, cinematic power. Witness Starving Weirdos’ new 180-gram vinyl LP on UK’s Black Rainbow label, B-P-M Series 1, which takes recordings of bop pianist Darius Brotman to a whole ‘nother level as the twosome fashion entirely new compositions from each number.

Grouper is the lady to catch Sunday: the once-Bay Area based, now-Portland, Ore.-dwelling Liz Harris has been wowing the underground -- and opening for Animal Collective on their recent tour -- with the stirring emanations off Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (Type), a recording that saw her moving from moving, more ambient compositions toward meditations on folk song and drone, working on acoustic and electric guitar. Also vital that night: Christina Carter, who first got attention as part of Charalambides and also has one foot in traditional music and another in the shifting realm of experimental sound, and Common Eider King Eider with ex-Deerhoofer Rob Fisk and Zum label man George Chen.

I’m also eager to see the latest incarnation of Danny Grody and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s always-mind-expanding SF band Tarentel, now extra-fortified with filmmaker Paul Clipson in its midst, as well as the tectonic-shifting, visual and sound feast of the Alps, ex-Yellow Swans member Pete Swanson, and Ilyas Ahmed, who will be joined by Honey Owens of Valet on guitar and Jed Bindeman of Heavy Winged on drums. In the meantime, East Coast Wire readers and followers of music’s avant-garde, can bide their time and wait for the next No Fun fest. And it’s good to know that this scene still throbs with multiple voices, dialogue, dissent and strongly held opinions, judging from a comment from Swanson on the Root Strata blog in response to Cantu-Ledesma’s assertion that “all sets will be pro recorded!”: “God, I hope not.”

Tarentel plays Saturday, Sept. 19, 8 p.m., at Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market St.., SF. $15. Keith Fullerton Whitman, the Alps, Ducktails, Pete Swanson, Joe Grim, and Operative also perform. Starving Weirdos play Saturday, Sept. 19, 2 p.m., upstairs at Swedish American Hall, SF. William Fowler Collins, Metal Rouge, Darwinsbitch, Jim Haynes, John Davis, and Danny Paul Grody also appear. $10. Grouper performs Sunday, Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m., at Swedish American Hall. Christina Carter, Ilayas Ahmed, Barn Owl, Sun Circle, Common Eider King Eider, and Brendon Murray also play. $10. Passes for the three-show On Land Festival are $35. (415) 861-5016 www.cafedunord.com

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