Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sitting on the Fence

It's a very quiet and enjoyable Sunday afternoon here on East Mountain. The skies are darkening, the wind is kicking up, the temperature is dropping and the sound of thunder is in the air. A brief but refreshing summer storm is bearing down upon us and it should be raining in moments.

Things quiet down here during the summer months. The university students are gone and there's less traffic on the roads (yea!). Summer activities are in full swing though. On weekends folks seem to flood out of town to the lakes, rivers and favorite campsites. But in the world of Goth, there's really not much going on. As for my own personal life the last event I'd been looking forward to, The Vore 20th Anniversary Show is now a couple of weeks behind me. I don't mind; and as a matter of fact, I always enjoy these quiet times. Still, there is one opportunity that now presents itself that is both very exciting and disturbing at the same time. I'm really sitting on the fence over this one and it's a situation that only an introvert such as myself ends up in turmoil over. 

There is a non-profit organization here in town that has for years, talked about getting the rights to operate a low-power FM radio station. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave approval to some 2,000 organizations to operate such broadcasting facilities. The local group has both received approval and chosen a frequency. They are waiting for the FCC to complete certain paperwork and the issuance of their call letters. After that, they'll be cleared for broadcasting. 

Low-power FM stations are licensed to broadcast with a power output of between 10 and 100 watts. When you consider that our local public radio station broadcasts at 100,000 watts with a signal that reaches well into Oklahoma on the west and Missouri to the north, and way below the Arkansas River Valley to the south, you can begin to appreciate that 10 to 100 watts is not very much. The signal strength must be adjusted according to the height of the transmitting tower and how well the signal is able to bypass neighboring hills, buildings, etc. All things considered, Fayetteville's new all-volunteer community radio station will have a signal that should serve all of our community and will likely be one capable of extending outward for a few miles, thereby reaching, at least partially, into neighboring towns as well. 

Community radio stations determine their programming according to the needs of their respective communities as well as according to the interests of those actively involved with the station. At this point in time, it looks as though Fayetteville's community station will be focused primarily on talk and discussion shows. There will be a smattering of musical venues, which may include cool jazz, bluegrass and heavy metal. 

Heavy metal you ask? Yeah, that's me. Back in April I signed up to do a metal show and since that time my mind has been working overtime in terms of how I'd like to not only mix the music, but also incorporate the occasional horror theme into the programming. As I mentioned a bit earlier, this whole thing is, in many ways, a very exciting prospect. I love mixing music and I feel confidant that I'm capable of creating an excellent program--all with a classical but spooky touch. 

All I want to do however, is have a two-hour weekly program and otherwise, slide back into life as usual. After all, it's not like I don't have important personal projects and other responsibilities. But when I attended last week's open house I quickly came to realize that if I want to do this show, it's going to take a much bigger commitment than I'd bargained for. Before I knew it, I was on the programming committee; and although I'm not even sure what that will entail, I was asked to sign a skills list. Do I have construction skills? Got a truck? Can you write news or do web work? How about getting into fundraising or public outreach? By the time I left the place I was already free-falling into a funk--in other words, a depression.

There are three meetings set for this coming week that by all rights I should attend. I have to mention here that years ago, I swore off meetings and promised myself that I'd never attend one again. I absolutely loath them and truly don't like being thrown into groups of people that I'm suddenly supposed to become close to and work with.

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with all of this. If I want to do my metal show it's going to take much more of a commitment than I was expecting. I don't mind helping out a bit, but jeez!  

The rain has ended and the sunshine has returned. It's probably like a steam bath out there but I think I'm going out for a pale ale and a cream stout. I have a few more days to sit on the fence and put off any decisions. I'm still in the information gathering stage. I'll let you all know how things turn out somewhere down the road.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Vore 20th Anniversary Show

I saw Vore for the first time shortly after the band had come together. It was back in 1994 or 1995, if I'm not mistaken. This was before the Death Mistress, whom I've spoken about in earlier posts, exposed me to dark wave/industrial and dark music in general. The group played at an outdoor metal festival in the parking lot of a Wiccan store just off Dickson Street owned by a guy named Shadow Dragon. Not one with much regard for rules, Shadow Dragon organized his music extravaganza without getting a permit from the city. It wasn't surprising then that at some point the police came and shut down the whole affair. Still, Vore played before the forced shutdown and that memorable occasion was my first exposure to them. It wouldn't be my last.

At the time, I wasn't a big fan of metal. Sure, I loved the older rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and some of the other so-called precursors of modern metal. I even enjoyed some of the Black Sabbath I'd been exposed to. All in all however, I was and very much still am an affectionado of melodic music and I didn't yet have an appreciation for death metal's complexity and unique tonal qualities. As a result, I got into metal backwoods. Here's what I mean:

The first real metal band that I went absolutely crazy over was Type O Negative. The music on their Bloody Kisses and October Rust albums is pure genius, in my opinion. Still, that group's sound was commonly described as Gothic Metal--and with good reason! Type O was the first and perhaps, only metal band ever to win acceptance into Goth subculture. What thrilled me about the group was the spooky and melodic aspects to its music. The Gothic designation of Type O however, put the group into a category that differed from the metal I had been hearing. That was discovery number one; there are different types of metal.

My next and most important immersion into metal occurred upon my discovery of the Symphonic sub genre. To this day, I marvel at how quickly and completely I was won over to it. After all, it's hard-rocking music, undeniably metal, which has strong symphonic and classical elements. Although grunts and growls are sometimes present, so are clean vocals, many of which are performed by strong and even operatic female vocalists such as Tarja Turunen, Simone Simmons and Floor Jansen. I quickly came to appreciate the balance offered by these groups between the growls, so signature of metal, and the angelic vocals performed by these ladies. The thing is, each made me appreciate the other and I soon found myself delving in to other sub genres such as doom and melodic Death/Doom. Wait a minute! Did I just say death/doom? I think I did; and as I grew more passionate about that type of music I, at some point, realized that I'd come full circle. I now very much appreciate that which Death Metal has to offer; and over the past few years, I have enjoyed attending local metal events; some of which, Vore performed at.

Saturday night I attended the Vore 20th Anniversary Show at George's Majestic Lounge. From the first chord, the group's performance was superb. Within moments the band's thunderous brand of doom-laden death metal had the whole house hopping, head banging and moshing. One part of the performance I really enjoyed was when the Devil appeared on stage and began prancing around, invoking the audience into who knows what. The way his antics meshed with Vore's music was amazing. Talk about a cool mascot!

The group's current lineup consists of Jeremy Partin on bass, Remy Cameron on drums and guitarist/vocalist/grunter extraordinaire Paige Townsley. The three performed the first set by playing material from their latest album entitled Gravehammer and other more recent entries.  At the conclusion of that set, Page announced that bassist Jeremy Partin would be sitting out the rest of the show in order that two former members, guitarist/vocalist John Voelker and bassist Glenn Wheeler could take their old positions with the group. "Buy him a beer," Townsley suggested before introducing the former band members.

The second half of the concert was extraordinary because the four musicians had been practicing some of the older stuff for a while, specifically to give fans a treat for this 20th anniversary event. And a treat it was as Townsley and Voelker continued to go back and forth on grunts and vocals. Fans reacted so enthusiastically to the guitar and vocal trade offs that as one friend remarked, "things got pretty brutal in the mosh pit toward the end."

In addition to Vore, four other groups performed Saturday night. These included Auric, Macrocosm, Charnal and Apnea. While I didn't catch all of those performing, I caught some of Apnea's performance and thought they were totally awesome. 

In conclusion then, all I can say is that The Vore 20th Anniversary Show was truly epic. It's really good to know that the group is Fayetteville based. So then, please allow me to offer a toast to the next 20 years.

Here's the Official Vore website.