|Comedienne Heather Lawless was a pleasant surprise at MOCA Geffen's Step and Repeat, and yes, she really does look like Sissy Spacek.|
Show Review: Step and Repeat 2014 at MOCA Geffen Los Angeles
w/ Stephen Malkamus,
Dub Club DJ's
This past Saturday I went to the last edition of the MOCA Geffen Los Angeles' month long cross-disciplinary be-in/event (theme "performance art") where I saw Stephen Malkamus & The Jicks, Neil Hamburger, Heather Lawless, Geneva Jacuzzi and (missed Tim Hecker's thing) inside the empty MOCA Geffen space in DTLA. I am always down for a well curated Museum attempt that attempts to integrate pop culture, and I feel like the MOCA Geffen is certainly headed in that direction, and generally has a downtown type of vibe.
MOCA Geffen takes advantage of the useable space out in front of the museum to make their evening events work. Of course, inclement weather would fuck everything up, but this is Los Angeles, so evening weather is essentially perfect 100% of the time. Also, this space is surrounded by parking lots and pedestrian public space, so there is zero traffic or even people walking by who aren't involved with the event. It makes for a comfy, cozy environment. The bar set up is a bit of a small nightmare, but I would say that is to be expected when you go to one of these here museum events.
The night started off with Geneva Jacuzzi. They sounded vaguely familiar, and a quick check of my Facebook app revealed that 15 of my Facebook friends already like the, including tastemakers like Mario Orduno (Art Fag Recordings) and Mike Sniper (Captured Tracks.) They started their performance with a video-toaster looking edited video piece that featured the two of them as pitch women for "MOCA Lotion" and a series of other typical tv sold products, in a style that seemed to draw from Tim & Eric's aesthetic and earlier parodies of tele-sales. After that, one of them got into a plastic inflatable skull, dressed in a witch costume, and then she crawled around inside it. I made it about 10 minutes after the 10 minute video, what I heard was interesting but the performance was static. When I returned afterward, the plastic inflatable skull she was inside had collapsed, so there may have been a dynamic visual there to close the piece- I don't know.
Heather Lawless opened for Neil Hamburger. I recognized her from the Patton Oswalt starring life action "The Heart She Holler" where she plays Hamrbosia, sister of Hurshe (Kristen Schall.) Her stand up was super duper awkward, by design, I am quite sure. It very much fit with the Neil Hamburger vibe but was otherwise an awkward surprise. I would watch her again.
Hamburger took the stage to weak applause. The audience, as one would expect, seemed to consist more of people who'd heard OF Hamburger but perhaps never seen him or watched any of this online, clips, than of long time fans. I would put myself somewhere in between, but I was excited to see him, and I've seen him before (in San Diego in July 2013). Hamburger/Greg Turkington appears to have grown closer to the Tim & Eric matrix, in particular his online video series with Heidecker, On Cinema and the attendant cross over with Heidecker's other online offering, Decker. Hamburger's act doesn't vary much, but the audience reaction sure does. When you watch Neil Hamburger perform you are really watching the reaction of the audience to Hamburger and responding to that, more than any particular joke. Neil Hamburger is certainly closer to a long running performing art piece than an "act" performed by Turkington.
I was unable to watch or hear the Tim Hecker piece, which seemingly required waiting in two separate lines, having your id scanned, and wearing a pair of headphones. There was no explanation of what was going on other than the description of the piece itself in the program for the night, so I would call that an organizational fail.
Headliners Stephen Malkamus & The Jicks sounded terrible because they were playing inside of a museum. I would have thought playing outside would have sounded better outside but I can well imagine issues with that happening. I haven't followed Malkamus post-Pavement career, but I would have liked to have heard him. The poor sound quality made that impossible, but it's impossible to blame anyone, it is, after all, a museum, and can hardly be expected to have gentle rock acoustics.
On the whole I would judge the entire project worthwhile, and would recommend Step and Repeat to anyone contemplating going in the future. Thank you to MOCA for having me!