Human Eye live at the Museum of Contemporary Art 2/2/07
I was a bit wary of paying $10 to get in. The exhibit “Shrinking Cities” made no sense to anyone I spoke to (there were Germans involved and a shuttle to Cranbrook, but I didn’t feel like I should have to read a treatise to understand an art show…I should just be able to look at art, right?)
So I reluctantly pony’d up and walked past “art” and supposed treatments for urban living. I cry bunk. The “Meditations in an Emergency” exhibition, complete with Chris Fachini’s ghetto-fabulous rock box sound-system and Roxy Paine’s riveting blob maker was definitely more pleasing. I am not being ironic. I really liked both of these pieces.
The Eye were privy to a packed room, all sorts of art snobs, look-at-me’s, ne’er-do-wells and other shitterati that an only an exhibit opening in Detroit can make them crawl out from under their rocks for.
The performance was deadly. In front of a cinderblock wall painted white, the band slowly plodded into their intro. Brad Hales on bass has proven to be a key integration. With his gold-lame skullcap/bear ears or whatever you want to call it, he’s proven he doesn’t have to be “weird’ to be in the band. He is holding the shit together.
Around the second or third song frontman/guitarist/troglodyte/pure genius Tim Vulgar (or Tim Punk or Tim Lampinen or T.V. Lamp) starts fooling around with a plastic bottle of paint. He had some absurd industrial hose tentacle glove on his left hand and it was all a blur. At first I thought he was dabbing himself with a bingo card marker…on his face or guitar, you know, something just crazy enough that Tim would’ve thought of it first.
But no. This was paint. Tim biting at the bottom of the bottle finally gets the thing working. Without warning he starts splattering the back wall with this blue paint.
Now I’d seen the Creation at the Magic Stick a few years back and they spraypainted a canvas red with purple flashes but they did that EVERY show. It was dry. It was rehearsed. It was anti-climatic.
But Tim, unleashing his inner Pollock on the wall of this months-old institution was liberating. The confusion and puzzlement I felt when trying to decipher the Shrinking Cities exhibit was instantly erased. Tim eventually resorted to smashing the bottle against this austere white wall. Always in need of iconoclasm, I think I stared it down purely that night. I think the rest of the crowd was in agreement with me.
Human Eye somehow got into the belly of the beast and blew the whole fucking thing open. Tim was tossing around a roll of some decorative trim, something you might find on a shitty tablecloth or blanket and trying to TP the place with it, wrapping it around people’s necks and tossing it in the air with impunity.
There were some loosey-goosey moments that I imagine only other dudes in bands could dig on. Things like Tim and Brad and drummer Billy Hafer all making the “what’d we just do?” face at each other towards the end of “Spiders and their Kin” soon thereafter followed up by a collective “aw, fuckit” face before they ramped into the calamitous ending.
And it sounded fine. No one dare notice. A few songs later Tim skillfully tore open a pillow and with a toreador’s flay let loose an extraordinary snowfall of faux feathers. The look in the room, for that second or two where these pieces of (let’s be honest here) dust were slowly floating down onto everyone, was so majestic. So serene. So unexpected and antithetical to everything else going on in that building that night. It created a feeling an atmosphere more than is possible to convey through words on a stupid website.
Billy is a hellstorm on the drums…all laid back and free when necessary and other times a hail of snare fire and tom rolls. He is a drummer that is exciting to watch and those are sincerely few and far between. He was in the Sights for a show a few years back and I was aflutter with enthusiasm after watching him, imagining the future and the potential the deadly Billy-Bobby-Eddie line-up had. But they went with Mike Trombly before realizing they wanted a Patrick Keeler and instead got Keith Fox. But that’s a whole ‘nother story…and one that end’s up with Human Eye grabbing the pink frosted donut while no one was looking.
The show ended with the previously-mentioned gaudy trim being scrounged up and set on fire in front of the band by a batch of miscreants. Someone graffiti’d beneath Tim’s splattering “TVP (a misappropriation of his Timmy V. Lamp moniker) $1000” The place was a beautiful mess, all paint and trim and dust in a perplexing assemblage on the floor. Whatever the intention of booking the Human Eye to play this night, the band came and did the only thing they could and that was wreak havoc.
After the show the owner of the MOCAD wanted to discuss with Tim what they would do about the big blue smear of paint on their previously pristine wall. Without missing a beat, Tim said “Put a frame around it.”
But before people had begun to leave there was already a gallery schmo trying to clean the thing off. With his back to the crowd a crushed beer can (or something of that sort, definitely with a bit of weight) sailed past his head and thudded against the wall.
Fuck art. Let’s Damage.
(Human Eye setlist...notice small splotches of blue paint)
PS. The pioneers @ 107.9 FM was the only interesting part of the Shrinking Cities exhibition. Twelve different collaborators spread primarily across Detroit (with one each in Hamtramck, Ferndale and Royal Oak) spouting radio signals with 400 foot range each with specific programming running 24 hours a day. Chris Pottinger (Odd Clouds, Cotton Musuem) has an original sound piece coming from his crib near St. Aubin and Casmere streets (I caught it earlier today and it was devastating bliss) while Matt and Hazel Blake host what I can only predict is badass from their homstead right around the corner from the Yorba. These are definitely worth driving around for and checking out at http://www.jonbrumit.com/talking-homes.html
view the rest of the junk at www.mocadetroit.org
photos lovingly supplied by Lauren Hood