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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Show Review: Pharmakon & Body of Light @ The Void San Diego

Pharmakon/Margaret Chardiet as she appears live.

Show Review:
 Pharmakon &
Body of Light
@ The Void San Diego

  Watching Pharmakon is like seeing a Margot Tennenbaum esque woman being possessed by a Japanese water ghost, playing music that seems to have sprung forward in time from early Throbbing Gristle period Industrial/Noise Music.  Most impressively, it is just her, one person- Margaret Chardiet- there is no dopey looking dude twiddling knobs while she makes her unearthly screams.  Pharmakon inverts the traditional pop formula of pairing an edgy/threatening looking image with a sound that is rooted in America popular music song conventions.  Rather, Charadiet pairs a preppy image (seriously, she was wearing a black Polo dress) with a sound that is edgy/threatening.
Pharmakon channels a Japanese Water Ghost

     I think if you had to look at the overall Pitchfork aesthetic sensibility, she represents a larger category of Artists who are seeking to bring extreme sounds to mainstream Audiences using a variety of "cloaking/disarming" strategies. Liturgy would be another well documented example of what I'm talking about.  The two actual genres where this strategy is a verifiable phenomenon are death metal and noise.  I think tied to this inversion of traditional pop formula is the idea of the rock concert as a performance/performance art.

 I had a conversation with Shub for Dirty Beaches about their recent performances in Southern California and he said, "We want the Audience to see it as a piece, like a movie."  After seeing their performances, I totally get that, and I believe that Pharmakon has similar ideas.   She is an Artist, performing a piece, which is called "Pharmakon plays a rock club."
Japanese Water Ghost example

  Chardiet showed real maturity and sophistication during the Audience interaction portion of her performance.  Like many DIY/Indie artists she walked into the small crowd gathered around the stage, but she actually walked up to individual audience members, touched them on the shoulder and made eye contact- which is a far cry from the useful thrashing and wailing that you see.  She successfully created a moment of intimacy with the Audience that was completely at odds with the harsh, discordant nature of the performance.

 Thus, you can see how Pharmakon is manipulating multiple conventions of the DIY/indie scene at the same time during her performance. So if it isn't already clear, I was deeply impressed and I highly recommend you see Pharamakon live if given the chance- you will not regret it.

  Openers Body of Light was another one man show that worked in the emotive gothy territory of Cold Cave, a band I saw over the weekend in two piece form.  The singer/only guy on stage had a noticeable presence on stage that engaged the attention of the Audience.  He wore leather gloves, a white t shirt as well as a belt.  I frankly question the belt or the leather gloves- one or the other.  But there was a lot to recommend Body of Light, particularly to fans of emotive goth pop.  He actually reminded me of Majical Cloudz.

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