UCSB hosted the biannual UC Radio Network Conference last Saturday, which entailed a series of events, speeches, workshops and one hell of an after-show.
Students and radio workers from all UCs came to the conference, which University of San Francisco’s Professor Dorothy Kidd keynoted. Several radio workshops commenced including titles such as “Music Directing in the Digital Age” and “Socially Aware Journalism.”
To cap the entire event, KCSB workers set up the conference’s after-show at the Isla Vista Co-op and music venue, the BIKO garage. The bill consisted of two local groups and ended with groups from UC Davis and UC San Diego.
When I walked into the garage, I was greeted with the sounds of Younger Shoulder, a three man jam band, one of whom was hopping around in his socks and providing screaming vocals.
The other members of the band also created a rather odd but attractive aesthetic, as the guitarist concentrated deeply on his instrument and musical combination of distorted guitar and wah-wah pedals (two things I didn’t know could conceivably go together), and the keyboardist played heavy and almost primal riffs while gleefully smiling at his band mates. Despite the fact that many audience members used this time to take a smoke break and escape the sheer amplification of the group’s music, Younger Shoulder responded in regular independent music fashion by not really caring, completely enrapt in their own groove.
The next, short set by I.V.’s own Watercolor Paintings provided an amusing juxtaposition to its preceding act. Normally a trio but performing as a duet due to a band member’s cold, the group was refreshing and surprisingly pleasant to watch, despite their pretty stoic stage presence. The members’ sweet female voices were aided tastefully by the simple accompaniment of one guitar. The duo played a charming set full of Joanna Newsome-inspired vocals and accessible love songs.
Making for yet another stark musical contrast, a brooding group of men standing at the back of the garage turned out to be the next act: UC Davis’ Monterey Babe Aquarium (yeah, I know their name is awesome). The three band members sat at three keyboards, playing individual lines that ranged from minimalist to cluttered, while quietly drawing out their vocals.
What I found most surprising about the UC Davis drone band was that though they had self-reportedly only played three concerts, the group performed with astute finesse at the after-party. A large majority of the audience stayed for the entire set, and I can’t imagine all of them were experienced connoisseurs of the experimental sound.
KCSB and the BIKO garage operators definitely picked the right band to round off the night. With a mix of real and sarcastic charm, UC San Diego’s pop duo Jamuel Saxon kicked off their set with their front man shedding a dowdy sweatshirt in favor of an Aladdin-inspired glitter vest, and informing the BIKO on-lookers that they were, “The best fucking audience ever” after about three minutes of music.
Still, however premature his tactic was for revving up the audience, it seemed to work. After a night full of audience members standing around somberly, Jamuel Saxon succeeded in getting the BIKO crowd to dance. Keith Milgaten, the group’s keyboardist and vocalist, seemed to get good vibes from the audience. In fact, he seemed to never want to leave the stage. After happily saying the phrase, “Okay, this is our last song,” about four different times, the front man ended his set by playfully putting down the mic and suggesting that we all “hit up a few frats.”
Saturday’s show was sometimes thought provoking, sometimes enjoyable and always interesting. I can only hope this demonstration of diversity in music continues to be reflected in KCSB and all other UC radio networks.