On Friday 21st Oct. I went to Cavriago, which is a quite small and far out city near Reggio Emilia.
Emilia Romagna itself (google it if you’re utterly lost) is a pretty interesting region for the indie scene, with plenty of small indie live clubs and festivals. Calamita is one of these clubs, a ‘Music Attractive Experience’, providing some pretty interesting acts throughout autumn and winter, in order to save music lovers from cold and boredom. On Friday night I went to see Dirty Beaches, a quite famous solo project that blends in lo-fi minimal and rockabilly in a really fascinating experience. For the ones who don’t know him, Dirty Beaches is the moniker of Alex Zhang Hungtai, an American of Taiwanese origin who released some EPs before the debut ‘Badlands’, which he’s promoting around the world. So yep, quite a good introduction.
23.10pm. After getting lost/swearing at the city and my GPS, I eventually found the place – a really old building from which some electro-based music was blasting. After smiling and saying I’m working for the fanzine which organised the event (Youthless, check it out by the way) I got in. The place was quite packed, so I found my editor and we went backstage together, where Alex was hiding in the soundproof room, playing drums (?!) and the others were drinking all the refreshments and chatting. Paolo Iocca (aka Boxeur The Couer, the supporting act) entered asking when should he start playing, and people kindly answered him with ‘now’. Boxeur The Couer provided a fascinating half an hour of hypno-electropop made of auto-tune, synth and drum machine, blending in different layers, and mostly getting the listener’s attention, only losing it a few times. We eventually get the time to applaud after 35 dense minutes of space atmosphere, in which Paolo was alone on stage, playing with his tools. But the best was yet to come.
Alex is a really captivating figure when playing live. First he was tinkering with the pedals, wearing a long black coat (total black rules) and being calm, relaxed. In the meanwhile Francesco De Gallo, the saxophonist, put his sunglasses on (?!) and started playing. In that exact moment, when a rockabilly base blasted through the amplifiers, Dirty Beaches became somehow restless, lost in its music, creating something in the balance of minimal and a noir soundtrack, alternating screaming and deep vocals (Elvis came to mind quite easily), lo-fi tunes and a bluesy guitar, accompanied by an experimental saxophone, which often stands out with its own ‘voice’. Knowing so little about it, I got enraptured by this sound, disturbing and fascinating, melancholic and fresh at the same time. First of all, I’m going to get my copy of ‘Badlands’, and then I want to strongly advice you to do the same, and get to see Dirty Beaches live.
Boxeur the Couer