Author: Grandy, Eric
Date published: June 17, 2010
Journal code: STRR
DUMB EYES AND SLEEPY EYES
Last Wednesday night at Moe Bar, local synth-rock quartet Sleepy Eyes of Death debuted a new video for their song "Data Grave" off recent release Toward a Damaged Horizon. Fittingly for the logistically demanding ensemble, there were some technical difficulties (guitarist Cassidy Gonzales: "It wouldn't be Sleepy Eyes of Death without some technical problem"). Mainly, there was the issue of trying to synchronize Moe Bar's two unconnected TV screens with a separate audio source (we may have been watching things slightly out of sync), but also the fact that the screens seemed to be set to the dimmest brightness possible (maybe so as not to disturb the bar when it gets darker?). So, dark and a bit out of sync, but I think I still got it: Basically, this guy (local artist and photographer Frank Correa) is getting recruited into a baptismal cult (which reminded me of YACHT's fantastic video for "The Afterlife"). Video codirector Kyle Johnson told me that the band's only specific request was that they not appear in the video, not even in a Chemical Brothers/ Fatboy Slim-style cameo-so mission accomplished. After the screening, Correa said: "I wish it hadn't been so dark; I know it'll look better on the internet." (You can view the video at thestranger.com.)
The next night, Dumb Eyes' awesome audiovisual spectacle Penetration returned to the Unicorn. DJs, promoters, et al., take note: The best club night in Seattle right now is being thrown by a graphic design company. Part of what makes the night so good is that it markets itself as a night of visuals that just happens to have a DJ, as opposed to yet another DJ night that just happens to have visuals. This allows the weird genius of Christian Petersen's DJing to sneak up on you. Unlike many DJs, Petersen's sets are not about the seamless mix but rather the highcontrast juxtapositions (the Prodigy into Aerosmith into the Feelies). His selecting, aided by Penetration's atmosphere, reveals the latent psychedelic qualities-strange sounds, hypnotic grooves, disorienting atmospheres, mood-elevating riffs-in all kinds of music not normally associated with mindalteration, from radio hiphop to hair metal. People got down.
The looping (and loopy) digital video projected all over the club-lots of stylized eyeballs and garish smiley faces-with the prismatic glasses handed out at the door provide plenty to look at, but they also encourage a kind of general voyeurism, and it's a good-looking crowd. A friend remarked that Penetration makes the Unicorn look like the bar in an '80s movie about the future, and it does feel fairly science-fictional to be able to trainspot Petersen's set using Shazam on my iPhone. (During Buccaneer's Enya-sampling dancehall track "Fade Away," one guy did this the old-school way by going up and asking the DJ what was playing.) There were technical difficulties-Petersen rewound and replayed one track after realizing it was coming out of only one speaker, and a couple songs skipped in a way that actually kind of worked in terms of "trippiness" (full disclosure: I lent them the turntables and mixer); also, some excitable drinker accidentally knocked over one of their projectors. Penetration returns to the Unicorn every second Thursday, coinciding with Capitol Hill Art Walk. Don't miss it.