Baltimore’s Floristree offered up some regional fare last Saturday, with a healthy portion of drone and noise and performative absurdity, served up hot and fresh. [Insert crab joke here.] We’ve been fixated on the city as of late, and we visited last weekend on one of those New York-centric imperialistic missions to discover the strange, new sounds originating from the indigenous creatures of that small, strange city. What we found will shock all of you. This is totally NSFW.
To start, Floristree makes Brooklyn living/party spaces look like lean-to’s in the middle of the urban jungle. Located in downtown Baltimore in an area where people peddle substances on the corner (Rjyan Kidwell assured us this is why the place hasn’t had any problems with the cops), you could probably play regulation football in its sixth floor interiors. If some walls were knocked out. And if people at Floristree were into it.
Lexie Mountain Boys don’t want to be classed as performance art, so we’ll call it ‘multimedia’. No lasers or HD cameras involved, just billowy home-fixed costumes, giant staffs bedecked in bells and ribbons, shattered cymbals, precariously hanging pies crashing inevitably towards the boys’ own painted faces, and the strangest, coarsest and most inventive vocal harmonies this side of Dirty Projectors. It feels rude to draw a contemporary comparison, seeing as both photographer/writer Nate Dorr and I agreed, we’d never seen anything like this. If you’re lucky enough to catch them at SXSW, or at any of the other scattered gigs that might arise in the future, you might forgive the relative vagueness of this paragraph description after realizing you, too, have been shocked and awed into acquiescence with their strange rhythmical patterns, their shaky, unpredictable (yet clearly choreographed) movement across (and off) the stage, but most of all, as I said, their ability to blend their voices, both bellowing and mellifluous, bleating and somehow smooth and rich with texture. Anyway.
WZT Hearts (pronounced Wet Hearts). Jason Urick, one of Floristree’s eight(?) inhabitants, seemed to us to be the unofficial guidepost for this ruminative laptop ‘n drum four piece during our interview. But with three men literally crouched behind stacks of synthesizers and other electronic boxes, barely peeking from behind their second and third generation PCs and Macs, drummer Shaun Flynn held the crucial duty of reigning in the unmetered rumbles and infinitely processed .wav files crumbling out of Floristree’s formidable PA system. It was Flynn who had the power to suggest the direction towards or away from time signature, meter, tempo; in short, to improvise the foundations of traditional song structure. And to that end, Flynn (a sometimes solo performer at Baltimore’s experimental Red Room) stayed faithful to the uneven keel that characterized the laptop trio’s ample range of noise that I can best describe as what a mattress made of mangled tape-loops would sound like if you lay on it, or perhaps under it.
Ecstatic Sunshine was not a palette cleanser so much as an enrichment of the already thick, full-bodied vibrations that’d come before. While some might remember ES as a delicate, guitar-leaning project based in unconventional melody, the outfit, now numbering three members and only one on guitar, have moved towards a loop-heavy wall of noise that, while still maintaining Matt Papich’s bright, tumbling guitar melodies, seems to have become a band more concerned with textures and intensity.
We suck, we left after that. Crashed. Went back for more at The Depot the next day, saw “one of” OCDJ’s final gigs doing dance music.