Cheer-Accident at the Empty Bottle

This concert was right up there with the recent Japanese New Music Festival show (also at the Empty Bottle) for sheer strangeness and avant-garde conceptual comedy. Or to put it in more vulgar terminology, what a mind fuck.

I walked in late, thinking that Cheer-Accident wouldn’t be starting until around 11 p.m. But they were already going at 10:15 p.m. I immediately recognized what they were up to — they were playing one chord over and over in a “lock groove,” standing on the stage almost perfectly still, with blank robot-like expressions on their face. I know Cheer-Accident has been known to play the same chord for long, long stretches of time. In a way, it’s better that I walked in late, because now I’m free to imagine that they’d been playing this chord since, say, noon. I think it actually went on for about half an hour. Looked like G minor seventh, I think. Some people in the bar were smirking, others looked annoyed, some had the glassy-eyed expressions of those trying to hear some nuance of slight change in the way the band was playing that chord.

Finally, that ended, and the opening act, Lord of the Yum Yum, came onto the stage while the members of Cheer-Accident continued standing there, still expressionless. Now, this Yum Yum dude was something else, a sort of comedic human beat-box singer. When he cracked up one of the members of Cheer-Accident, Yum Yum berated him for not acting enough like a statue. During Yum Yum’s final song, the members of Cheer-Accident slowly came back to life like toys with re-energizing batteries. And then, as Yum Yum departed, they launched back into that same chord and played it for a few more minutes.

Over the next two and a half hours, Cheer-Accident played a bewildering variety of noisy prog-rock and jazz-tinged pop, including some magnificent moments of instrumental power and some downright silliness.

At one point, drummer/singer/trumpeter/keyboardist Thymme Jones came to the front of the stage and said, “It wouldn’t be a CD release party without playing — but wait, we’ve got another song we’re going to do first.” Then, after playing the next two songs, Jones repeated the same banter and the band played those same two songs again. And then they repeated the whole shtick over again. After performing the same banter and songs three times, creating a peculiar feeling of deja vu, the set list finally moved on.

One song featured a few long and silent pauses, which seemed intended to goad the audience into yelling. During one of these interludes, another man came on stage and made noises by rubbing plastic bags on Jones’ microphone.

And for its final number, Cheer-Accident led the crowd in a German sing-along.