Show Review: Big Business at the Nomad Gallery, Los Angeles 10/31/09

words and photo by Sean Lambert | Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

bigbizWhat could be better than attending a costume-compulsive affair bolstered by a ballsy band like Big Business? Halloween, a day that offers up way more fun time than your modern day consumer Christmas, couldn’t disappoint. I dressed as Keith Richards, complete with ’70s area accessories, a truly ridiculous wig held on my head with a long black bandana, and the requisite chest-barring dress shirt. My jeans were tight and my shoes pointy. I studied Keith’s weird speech patterns via YouTube clips and listed to “Main Offender” from the time I rolled out of bed. What did my lovely girl dress up as? A Fraggle. Red, the Fraggle, specifically. If you don’t know what Red Fraggle is, you probably don’t know who Keith Richards is, so I won’t bother you with anything in the way of an explanation. Regardless, the two of us standing side by side looked admittedly outstanding. Emboldened by our appearance and general determination to celebrate, we met up with a gaggle of my girl’s closest buddies at their nearby apartment.

The Big Business show, which happened to be in a gallery located on the same street where I purchased my wonderful piece of crap Hyundai about a year and a half ago. Weird. Cool. We successfully parked, but it was disconcerting stepping out of my car dressed as Keith Richards, escorting a Fraggle and a flapper girl, in a questionable, poorly lit Los Angeles neighborhood only to get hit square in the olfactory zone with the overpowering smell of dog shit. A bad omen? Nonsense. We were out to have fun, dog shit be damned. The girls wandered ahead as I retreated back to my car to retrieve a pen and yellow pad of paper on which I planned to take notes for this piece. Keith Richards probably never took such dutiful notes at a rock show.

Inside, there were groups of white-faced ghouls huddled by a pit fire, laughing loudly and eating popcorn. A priest stood nearby chatting with a guy sporting a Devo getup, topped with that weird Lego-like cap they wore in the “Whip It” video. Two oversized pieces of bread, one backed by a girl dressed in purple (representing jelly) and the other supported by a dude dressed all in brown (representing peanut butter) awkwardly entered the gallery space hand-in-hand. Note to partygoers: you’re only truly committed to Halloween when your costume requires you to shuffle sideways through a doorway.

The first band, Tweak Bird, got things moving. The majority of us freaks, monsters, and general partygoers crowded in the gallery space and rooted on the very loud drum and bass duo as they buzzed through loosely-structured tempo shifts and drawn-out rhythmic explosions. Their nicely echoed vocals and impressive energy output with such limited instrumentation colored me impressed. Regrettably, I couldn’t say the same for the following supporting band, 400 Blows. I guess when you name your outfit after a French film exploring a familiar theme of misspent youth, you kind of set yourself up for a bit of boredom. Their sound might have been more appealing about 10 years ago when they first came on the scene, but it struck me now as derivative and lacking innovation. Loud doesn’t necessarily mean good.

I wandered outside and found my Fraggle along with a few other friends that had gathered around a looping projection of old horror movies. We waited for Big Business to get up and do their thing, chatting among ourselves and planning our next course of action following the conclusion of the show.

I knew immediately that Big Business was in good humor when I caught Jared Warren wandering to the play space in a tie-dyed Fleetwood Mac t-shirt and matching trucker cap. When all band members emerged, spewing forth their first noise of the night, the diversified, slap-happy, and daring audience responded in kind, pumping fists and bellowing back. This time around loud, was assuredly good. Big Business’s chops were on full display as they barreled through the sound that has defines them. They sped up on tasty metal licks and reversed their course just as abruptly, bending feedback, harmonizing fuzz and cranking it all back up again. It was a sweet beating for us audio masochists willing to take all the electrified abuse and scream out for more. This is what Halloween should be once you’ve graduated from the smaller world of soliciting candy door-to-door.

My ears were buzzing something awful as we stumbled out of the gallery. I knew it would be deafening. I had witnessed Big Business before. Why didn’t I bring earplugs? As I discussed this with my Fraggle, we hopped in the car and got the address of a party somewhere deeper in the bowels of the Los Angeles night. All the girls we had met earlier were there getting their drink on and wanted us to come on out and dance. Why the hell not? When we finally arrived at the place after zigging when we should have zagged, ending up in Chinatown until we hooked up with the 110 freeway heading north, our ski bunny Gale was sipping from a small bottle of tequila and our pal the peacock was strutting her stuff in style. The porch was packed with revelers deep in their cups, shouting wildly, enjoying the night. We eventually made it up to the second floor of the house where our bearded buddy Jason was dressed as a most unsexy nun and spinning weird creepy music. Once we filled the room, he turned up the juice with some classic soul, obscure garage rock and hip hop hits until we were all dancing. Our friend the goldfish kept losing the dorsal fin that was her hat. Out Bowie space cadet danced as if fighting against limited gravity. Other friends dressed as a witch and the ghost of analog tapes boogied back and forth while Prince acted cool, an uptight nerd with tinfoil on her head spazzed-out and a bunny-hopped across the floor.

My Fraggle was getting a bit tired, so we headed back home. I convinced her we should at least stop at the roller skating party to check out the scene before calling it a night. She thanked me later after we arrived. Most everyone had already left, except for Pan the emcee and our flapper girl who hooked my Fraggle up with a pair of skates. They tore up the empty floor while Pan made some inappropriate comments over the PA system due I’m sure to his generous intake of cheap beer. Of course, I thought this was all in good fun and took several pictures of my Fraggle on wheels until we had to leave. Later that night, around 3 AM, just as I was about to get into bed, I got a text from the peacock explaining they were caught in an emergency situation. Could I pick them up? A group of girls’ emergency situation could be any number of things I would or would not classify as such. I didn’t, however, want to have anything on my conscience in case something truly bad was going down, so I agreed to go pick them up. As I was sitting in my car, punching the coordinates in my GPS system, I got a call from the peacock explaining that their cab had just arrived and they didn’t need me to come get them after all. Crisis averted. Stand down. I went back inside, kissed my Fraggle, and went to sleep.