Sound Check

They play for tips: Valet
Daniel Corrigan

Baby I Can Park Your Car

FIFTEEN MINUTES BEFORE they hit the air, the just-over-drinking-age members of Valet are screwing around onstage. Family, friends, and bandmates have filled the Bryant-Lake Bowl theater for Mary Lucia's Sunday-evening local-music schmoozefest Popular Creeps broadcast live on Zone 105 FM. As the audience mingles, outgoing bassist Adam Bagniewski loudly challenges his successor, Jeremy Doering, to a musical duel. Doering would seem somewhat handicapped, wielding only a child's Casio SK1 and a sampler. In acceptance, he turns to the audience and greets them by repeating only the name "Nelson Mandela" on his sampler, over and over again--sort of a "Viva Zapata!" for surrealists.

Taking her seat near the group, Lucia looks at the young crowd and quips into the microphone, "Man, the Foxfire must be hurting for business tonight." Then the show is under way. The host quickly grows discouraged by Valet's general unresponsiveness to interview prods, so she urges them to launch straight into their handful of deceptively simple pop numbers. Soon, a disarming melody creeps out of Paul Fuglestad's Farfisa organ as disheveled, sandy-haired vocalist Robin Kyle surveys the room dreamily under the sickly pink klieg lights. "There you go again, my dear/Always talking 'bout your art," he sings, his melodic sweetness undercut by a veiled jab: "Mr. Haines, you can rest assured/You know I got it from the start."

Opening Valet's eponymous new EP on Roll Music, "Ode to an Auteur" is a tribute in title and songwriting style to Luke Haines, frontman for the overlooked English guitar band the Auteurs. "He's the person that started me writing songs like a film, in glimpses or shots," says Kyle, "He doesn't get sentimental and nostalgic." Kyle's Irish accent is more pronounced in conversation--he moved here from Belfast in 1994.

From under a mop of hair, Fuglestad sums up his band's tone more succinctly as "emotionally sarcastic."

"I assume characters," continues Kyle, who once performed in the Entry under the moniker Lenny Valentino, from an Auteurs song title. "I think it's a lot more interesting to assume a facet of my personality that I can't in real life."

These songs might have lounged in obscurity forever if freckled drummer Judd Hildreth hadn't approached Kyle last year and convinced him to start a band. Kyle had spent some time playing acoustic sets with a cellist in local circles after moving here from Northern Ireland, but he wanted to move in a more rocking direction. Valet soon recorded the EP with producer John Tranberry (Accident Clearinghouse) in November. Three of the four members still play in other acts--Hildreth in Mollycuddle, Fuglestad in Roy G. Biv, and Bagniewski in Poland--a situation that presents obvious time strains for all concerned. "Basically, we're all sluts except for Robin," Hildreth deadpans. Even so, the band plans to tour and release a full-length album behind the singer-songwriter before year's end, allowing audiences to take what it will of his songs. "I hope they think our subject matter is different," Kyle says. "I hope they don't think that we just sound like a local band." (Kate Silver)


Toys for 'Bots

FOR THE NINTH installment of the multimedia electronic-music carnival Future Perfect, curator Chris Strouth decided he needed a narrator, someone to observe and interpret the evening's happenings. So he did the logical thing: He disemboweled a Pokémon doll, rigged it with a radio, handed a script to actor Charles Hubble for its voice, and prepared to videotape it live. He'll display little Pikachu's image on various screens around the Weisman Saturday, letting the critter muse on the meaning of time and its application to how we experience music.

"I wanted something soft and innocent and nice to ask some serious questions," says Strouth. "He's based on the narrator from Our Town. Nobody interacts with him, but he just describes what is going on."

Accompanying the automaton will be Zaftig, a new local ensemble that builds its own string instruments from aluminum cylinders. Another group to check out: Alpha 61, which features Paul Horn and Jason Shapiro, founders of the pivotal local space-music band Ousia. Speaking of: Ousia alum Jason Ducklinski appears in a band cleverly titled Big Daddy, Jr. and the Spook (as in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).

As usual, other notables abound, including TS, A Most Happy Sound, Christian Erickson, Satoshi Shinozaki, The Radar Threat, and Rexor. Pretty colors provided by the Magic Lantern Light Show. (Peter S. Scholtes)

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