I’ll never forget the time, probably somewhere in early 2003, when Holy Molar played their first and only show at the Ché Café. Like most present, I was a high school kid whose primary release apart from minor skateboard triumphs and romantic misadventures was the intentional seizure sessions facilitated by weird hardcore bands at all-ages venues. But this show was a particularly decadent spectacle.
The band, wearing white aprons and dentist masks, goaded us into total freakout with sci-fi grindcore bursts of noise. Naked Guy, something of a staple, swung from the rafters, naked, shouting lewd propositions at the bassist. A mob of kids did their best to avoid making contact with his sweaty flesh while also maintaining a high-velocity wiggle and evading physical assault from the band. Everything was pretty much going as usual until someone emerged from the frenzy with a latex contraceptive on their fingertips and lodged it directly in Naked Guy’s butt.
I’ve since been to countless shows, where all manner of unsavory things have happened, but for some reason that night has taken on a special significance. It’s come to represent the pinnacle of San Diego weirdcore, and I sometimes wonder if the insanity of that strange scene — that vulgar specter that once gripped the bulk of San Diego’s misfit youth by the inseam of the skinny jeans — really did come screeching to its zenith right there in Naked Guy’s keister.
Of course, wild bands kept on playing and kids continued to freak out, but the synergy was never the same. Maybe I’m just over the hill, but it wasn’t until a recent renegade noise show on the outskirts of Descanso that I began to feel that unmistakable anarcho-Dionysian abandon electrifying my nerves anew.
We arrived around 11 p.m. at the hillside location off a fire road overlooking the 8. Penis Hickey, a bass-and-drum duo that sounded mostly like a robotic tyrannosaurus consuming an electrical substation, lurched around the improvised plywood stage. Maybe 15 of us watched as, afterward, a girl collapsed to the dirt in spastic convulsions, growling like a woman possessed.
Sweet providence! I thought, the Wiggle is back!
My roommate Eli and I went to the car for more rum. When we returned, a crowd was gawking at a cordoned-off Casio keyboard that had just been modified with a blowtorch.
“This might become a tradition,” said a guy in thermal sleeves, who identified himself as a member of the Digital Sound Lab Orchestra. “This is a Casio Symphonytron 8000. There were only 100 made in 1984, and now there are only 99 left. I couldn’t give this away — nobody would take it. Even though it’s rare, it’s not valuable. What are you going to do with this incredibly rare thing? Throw it in a dumpster? You can’t sell it on eBay. No one wants it. So, let’s give it a nice burial and see what happens.”
“I didn’t hear the sound changing,” his female and possibly Russian coconspirator said stoically. “A lot of keys got stuck but nothing really happened.”
“You buy a computer now and they charge you a seven-dollar e-waste fee,” Thermal Sleeves continued. “Apart from that, manufacturers don’t care what happens to their product. They don’t talk about what it’s like at the end of its lifetime. Well, this is what it’s like at the end of its lifetime. It’s kind of a New Orleans style of going out.”
“A Viking ship,” a cohort added.
“But this particular keyboard was interesting because,” Sleeves paused and cracked a slow smile, “well, it wouldn’t die.” ■
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