Multiverse Playground event was presented by Paper Garden Records @ 3rd Ward in Brooklyn, a member-based design center. Sponsors included: 3rd Ward, Uncensored Interview, Art Battles, Lomography, 1776, The BLDG, Project Fathom.
Paper Garden Records' current roster, Peasant, Emanuel and the Fear, and Darla Farmer, represent a perfect diverse live line-up. I endured Art Battles and Comedy Central's Kurt Metzger before the bands started. It was an "Experience" for me, but both were enthusiastically received by the crowd.
Peasant's slot was to follow the comic, a difficult feat for a guy with a guitar at best. Fortunately, everyone who slowly reentered the backspace and committed to staying soon realized Peasant (Damien DeRose) is not standard singer-songwriter fare. His is a voice to follow. He played some new songs from Shady Retreat to be released in 2010, and one never performed live. We were treated to two older songs from On the Ground. "Your Good" was fabulous without the drums, and Damien said he usually plays "Manners" when an audience is polite. "Hard Times" was appropriate and gave me pause to think about Peasant's ability to weave topical content without being preachy. Peasant is a quiet but reflective voice of his generation. And his voice penetrates in a subtle but lasting way.
Emanuel and the Fear are a great live experience with multi-layers of sophisticated composition and an accomplished orchestra. Emanuel Ayvason, on keys, guitar, and vocals, leads the pit with dynamic zeal and musical prowess. He is a music force with a vision and is willing to fuck with it in a good way. Adding drummer Jeff Gretz's metal magic adds an aggressive contrast to the mix. The sound leaves the listener on edge and shakes things up with untimely structures and raw and in-the-moment vocals without ever losing the sensuous full embodied sound. Aggressive Orchestral Pop!
Darla Farmer makes me smile. They are an ambitious six-piece outfit plowed through a lively, diverse set. Take guitar, bass, and drums, mix some horns and keys and grind it out. Their geeky awesomeness is appealing, blurring art rock, noise, metal, Orleans-style jazz, and screamo with the quirkiest nasal vocals of lead singer Bryce Leonard. We were treated to what seemed like impromptu Devo-style Hip Hop with the best awkward dance moves. It was a rip! Darla Farmer's original sound might be a result of geographical southern roots. Whatever the inspiration, I'm looking forward to more.