Black Light Sundays is a recently initiated biweekly night at the Astoria showcasing experimental/noise/genre-straddling electronica acts. The venue was sparsely populated with mainstays of the local weirdtronica scene, including Colby Sparks and Holzkopf, among others. Twitchy, looping and overlapping footage of what looked like patients being administered electro-shock therapy, interspersed with scenes from an ancient black and white adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, were being projected on a screen in the back of the club.
The first artist to perform was //Zoo, a.k.a. Ashlee Luk, who stood boldly in the middle of the dance floor with a mic, her guitar, and a cluster of pedals. Playing to simple, looping drum tracks, //Zoo chanted her unearthly Amazon warrior vocals and strummed through droning effects that sounded like waves of amplified astral radiation. Unfortunately, the copious amounts of delay and reverb seemed to wash out the vocals to virtual inaudibility, which, based on the tracks on Luk’s SoundCloud, was maybe not exactly what she intended.
Next up was Tassels, a.k.a. Sean Orr, who began his set wrapped up in a string of red Christmas lights. More people had arrived by this time and started meandering up to the dancefloor, doing their best to shuffle rhythmically to Orr’s ambient, sample-heavy but slightly discombobulating psychedelia. As he hunched and bounced manically over his laptop, the spiral of lights around his body made him resemble an enormous bobbing
helix of DNA. Later into the set he doffed the decorations and stood before the pale fire of his MacBook, gesticulating his hands through the ether like a sorcerer conjuring spirits from the underworld. All in all, Tassels’ set seemed to be well received by the crowd, but at times it felt like there was so much going on, sonically speaking, that it felt like being simultaneously caught in a tropical monsoon and an arctic ice storm, or like eating steak with ice cream.
Finally Dylan Gauthier, or RiDylan, delivered uncompromising high-BPM-driven, amphetamine-laced breakcore. There wasn’t a huge amount of people at the Astoria, but pretty much everyone in attendance gathered in and started jiving uncontrollably to the beats, which sounded something like a field recording of an invasion of giant robotic insects from outer space.
“If you come in closer, RiDylan will play harder for you,” Gauthier said matter-of-factly halfway into his set. With the rainbow spectrum of psychotically spinning lights and lasers transforming the crowd into an undulating dayglo Pollock painting, it was clear that everyone was more-or-less satisfied with the outcome of the evening. The atmosphere was altogether welcoming and non-judgmental, and Black Light Sundays promises to be a fertile garden for idiosyncratic electronic artists to blossom and bear fruit.