Ads Top

Words and Photos: Machine Girl / Evicshen / Camp Clover at The Bottleneck

Machine Girl at The Bottleneck. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Date: February 21, 2022

The Bottleneck - Lawrence, KS

New York digital hardcore duo Machine Girl delivered a rapturous performance to a sold-out crowd at The Bottleneck last month. Vocalist/producer Mike Stephenson and drummer Sean Kelly hit the ground running as their headlining set of roughly 50 minutes began. Kelly slammed on his drum set and electronic pads like Animal and Stephenson flew across the stage in his jumpsuit as he screamed. Though the lightning-fast breakbeats took a backseat for some portions of the set where Stephenson strummed along on his bass, there was never a moment one could really call tame. After playing bass for the second third of the set, Stephenson dropped the instrument and went to town again, jumping into the crowd, standing atop one monitor (which many kids were clutching for dear life due to the ceaseless push-pitting behind them), and nearly swallowing the microphone. 


By the end, both band members and everyone located in the mass of limbs in front of the stage was pouring sweat and had likely suffered a small injury of one sort or another. There was a moment or two that may have lead hardcore purists to chuckle, but undeniable was the technical skill, creativity, and energy required to put on a show like this one.

Machine Girl was preceded by San Francisco experimental artist Evicshen (born Victoria Shen). Though it lasted only 23 minutes, Shen's performance was perhaps the most compelling and entertaining noise set I've ever seen (in my limited experience), rivaled only by Australia's Justice Yeldham. Shen approached her set with a sort of casual confidence that made her playing and (what some may call) antics all the more entertaining. Much of her set revolved around recorded loops and feedback (some emitting from a vinyl or plastic disc that could be seen spinning on her table) that she would manipulate with pedals, scratch and spin with nail extensions on her fingers, and even bite once or twice. Other tactics Shen employed included leaning her table over to the point where her gear almost fell off, walking around the stage with the turntable on her head, climbing a stack of amplifiers, and swinging a long set of strings like a whip just above attendees' heads. It was impossible to look away.

The evening was opened by Kansas City rock band Camp Clover. Clover's core group consists of musicians Spade, Simon Huntley, Bud Nicholas, and J. Ashley Miller, plus live members Fritz Hutchison and Aryana Nemati. Together, this experimental supergroup performed 30 minutes of songs that pulled from pop-punk, art rock, indie, and beyond, tied together with a playful gothic aesthetic. Songs like "Kiss And Run" (which could've been written for Avril Lavigne) were punchy, fun, and to the point, while others meandered (at a slower pace) past the six minute mark with the help of guitar soloing from Miller and sax soloing from Nemati. I may need to hear more than just the few recorded singles the band has released so far before I can get to understand the core dynamics, but the live show is mostly fun and certainly more than intriguing.

Click here to view the full photo gallery.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.