PRF South (Day Three)
With Five Eight, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends, and 1970s Film Stock
Like the day before, I headed back over to Durham to catch a few acts from the all day festivities that are PRF South. This day featured a special guest: a torrential storm! I found their music a little redundant, to be honest.
No slight to the other performances this night, but the real excitement for me was Five Eight. They were one of the first bands I ever saw live, back in the early nineties as a 10th grader (I think). The club was called the Squashpile - it was in a bombed out, super dead part of Asheville that now is the home to breweries and high end lofts for rich people. It also doubled as a makeshift skatepark, which was actually the reason I was there, but I dug what Five Eight was offering and bought whatever cassette they had for sale (which is long since gone, apparently with all the rest of my tapes that
got lost in one of my many moves). I saw them one other time
a couple years later during college, but it had still been nearly 25 years since this band was last in my life. They’re a little older and greyer now (who isn’t), but honestly not a thing had changed…equal parts punk and art rock and that jangle pop sound for which their hometown of Athens is famous, their songs manage to be both weird and catchy at the same time. My biggest surprise was learning this show wasn’t part of a reunion – this band never stopped! The output has been sporadic, but they’ve seemingly seemingly remained a group throughout, including a new record last year that I need to make a point of hearing.
Next up was Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends, a loose musical collective featuring Conan and whichever of his musician friends are free to record and/or play gigs with him at any particular time. Collaborators have included former and/or current members of Melvins, Big Business, Coliseum, and more; and on this particular evening, they employed two-thirds of Maple Stave to round out their line-up. Conan and I go way, WAY back - I met him pretty early on after I moved
to SF, and saw his old band Replicator tons of times. This
is very different – you’re much more likely to get a Kiss comparison for this act rather than the constant Shellac comparisons Replicator always got. They're going for a very big, almost theatrical heavy rock n’ roll sound, and Conan has a stage presence that far outsizes a place with the capacity of the Pinhook. They’re definitely fun, and even though I’d never heard it before, their song “Chair Of Antlers” wormed it’s way right into my head for the next few days.
I stuck around to hear some of 1970s Film Stock, knowing absolutely nothing about the act but having seen the name on
a number of show bills over the last couple of years. Turns out
it’s not a band, but just one dude playing guitar. It was mostly instrumental with the occasional sparse vocal, plus a shitload of pedals and samplers and god knows what else
at his disposal. He did a lot of layering -
playing notes/chords, looping the line, then adding a different
part on top of that, etc - it was at times spacy, swirly,
psychedelic…insert like-minded adjective here. It was somewhere
loosely in the realm of Umma Gumma-era Pink Floyd combined with Chuck Johnson in his Spatula days. These are all things I like, so I give 1970s Film Stock the proverbial thumbs up.