ADULT. at the Silent Movie Theater – live DECAMPMENT
Tuesday night’s first filmic performance by the band ADULT. (for there were two back-to-back performances) was full of familiar faces as well as just plain full. Local electronic intelligentsia, from theremin players (Kevin Li of Seksu Roba) to three-year-old impressers (DJ Lance Rock from Yo! Gabba! Gabba!) sat captivated as the Brian Eno prelude faded away, the Silent Movie Theater went dark, and images of a woman’s legs and pant suit skirt stood starkly on the screen, motionless, even as ricocheted sounds of electronic knocks and phlangers bubbled up from either side of the stage. Nicola Kuperus’s horror film “DECAMPMENT” had begun.
It’s hard to convey how amazing a movie can sound when scored live. Kuperus and her bandmate/husband Adam Lee Miller are currently heavily influenced by the electronic sounds of seventies and eighties Italian horror, from Lucio Fulci to Dario Argento, and DECAMPMENT’s wordless plot flowed in a similarly severed vein. From what I could make out, a coven of witches dressed like long-haired versions of the “Simply Irresistible” girls give a new girl a book with a witchy Prince-like symbol on it. That night, she drops it on the floor, and blood comes out–maybe it’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret?
Anyway, a lot of horrific stuff with knives and fires and tree-chopping ensues, including a refreshingly Kenneth Anger-esque scene where the witches spend a lot of time replacing their high heeled shoes with galoshes and tying on rubber aprons. It sounds like I’m making fun, but I’m not–as a huge cinema geek, I appreciate Kuperus’s attention to detail, and the way the film creates tension by showing something ominous, then making us wait through long shots of beautiful sterility until the violent payoff.
But more importantly, we got to see a visceral live performance without all the bullshit trappings of a rock show: no encore, no pauses to tune, no headbands or water bottles or running to the edge of the stage to grab some kid’s hand. DECAMPMENT was a duo of talented big kids playing music, lovingly crafted, to captivating moving photographs that they had put together themselves for our enjoyment. Not since Public Image Limited played the Ritz in ’81 have I seen such a show involving a screen–and even then, I was only five years old, and only saw the show in my imagination.