Adult. was never retro. Sure, the duo’s many obsessions come through the music, from sterility to an obvious love affair with the quirks of New Wave 7-inchers and industrial B-sides. Yet their vision has always been contemporary, recontextualizing their influences and exploring some never-before-charted territory in Detroit: crossing the boundaries from Detroit electronic purism into the world of “rock” hipsters. In creating such a powerful hybrid, they’ve spawned a very strong cult. And on Friday, June 22, at the Magic Stick, their cult came out in full force.
Adult. has faced its share of challenges in trying to do shows around town, from being told by a local venue that they were “not Goth enough” to play there to being mocked by a club’s bookers when they said they could fill it up. This night proved all the critics wrong as Adult. not only filled the place with fans and a who’s who of the Detroit underground scenes, but with visual footage provided by Phil Burke, there was certainly enough blood dripping on stage. From Ersatz Audio’s latest deal with Thrill Jockey, it’s clear the band’s crossing boundaries, but it was a true show of justice having Adult. headline for Oval, showing just how far things have come.
The night was full of interesting entertainment and conversations. I regrettably had to miss onetime Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti duo Alder & Ellius, who record for Manchester’s Skam label, but I did get the special treat of meeting their Bionic Vagina (a character walking around in a cape and a costume not far from the Children’s Television Workshop). Apparently they have quite a bizarre stage show.
When I first arrived at the club, I heard what sounded like a CD skipping through an air ventilation shaft, so I knew Oval was on stage. I enjoy microtonal music greatly, but it’s hard for music usually listened to in very personal and relaxed environments to make the transition into a typical rock dive. It’s simply impossible to convey the qualities of those tones without a highly specialized sound system (I experienced the same problem when I saw Pan Sonic play there — too much full-frequency sonic detail for that environment). Having thought Oval was a duo, I watched the single performer stare at a laptop while I listened to the dark side of the influence of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.
Between sets, selector Chris McCullen played great tracks to accompany the night, my personal highlight being Drexciya’s “Take Your Mind.”
Sometime after midnight, Adult. took the stage with a commanding performance. With all their songs performed in medleys, so you never had a break, the energy became really intense. A blank screen appeared behind them and slowly what looked like blood dripping began to reveal ADULT. written in white. The crowd responded with great enthusiasm to songs it clearly knew and got introduced to some new things and cover versions. As this was a show at a rock club, the highlight of Adult.’s live performance was the encores, where Nicola Kuperus asked the people politely (she had been shouting all night before this) if they wanted some more, and they did. So Adam Miller picked up the electric bass and played “Contagious” and then a killer cover version of Tuxedomoon’s “No Tears” (Nicola’s eyes were clearly dry) to great effect.
Those who missed Adult. or are anxious to see the duo play some new songs (they’ve promised to do “Minors at Night” next time) can catch them warming up for Add N to (X) on Thursday, July 19, also at the Magic Stick (4140 Woodward, Detroit — 313-833-9700).
Not entirely unlike music
Beginning this first week of July, Sharif will be throwing regular weekly events at detroit contemporary on Thursdays and Saturdays. Thursdays will focus on live electronic shows leaning toward the experimental (Monolake is planned for early August) with special visual elements. Saturdays are more the Omoa classic thing: late-night parties with Scott Z and Recloose and the usual cast of suspects, going like most Sharif parties do, into the late hours, and starting typically after midnight. For more info, call detroit contemporary (5141 Rosa Parks, Detroit) at 313-898-4ART.E-mail Pitch’d at email@example.com