First Friday's provides an eclectic experience

Apart from learning that our closest living relative lives in a highly sexual, matriarchal society in which females tend to dominate males through alliances and sex, I found the performances at the Natural History Museum’s First Fridays to be anything but dull.

Photos courtesy of Esteban Galvez

After I received my press pass, I made my way up to the main exhibit floor to where I discovered how eclectic the people around me were. Politicians, artists, photographers, intellectuals, and musicians were a few who culminated to form the event’s attendance body. I soon made my way to the second floor where the discussion on “Darwinian Feminism and Bonobo’s Social and Sexual Interactions” was about to be held. Once the discussion concluded, the audience quickly engaged in questions to the possible consequences feminism could play in our society’s future. The conversations were thought provoking to say the least. Many theorized that gender equality was inevitable and we would one day live in a world where there would be no dominant sex. Others proposed that society would eventually come to be as the bonobos, meaning that females would be the dominate sex. I began to think, “would gender oppression of one lead to the retribution of the other?” My thoughts were racing with philosophical moral issues. I needed to ease my mind. It was time for some music.

As I returned to the first level, I entered into the African Mammal Hall, where DJ Anthony Valdez was holding down the crowd with beats from remixes of David Bowie and Ozomatli. The hall appeared as an exotic lounge nightclub surrounded by displays of exotic animals, from a taxidermist in the middle, to the Kenya plains. There were modern sofas in combination with African-style woven bard being used as drinking tables. It was difficult to find someone not drinking a beer, wine, or a cocktail. The relaxed ambiance gave way for more susceptible conversations. Entering in and out of social sets proved to be easy, due to their attractiveness in topics. The inner nerd in me was rejoicing! I said to myself, “finally, an event that made it cool to know about organic chemistry or the political writings of Rousseau.” It appeared that everyone had some experiences or well formulated arguments to continuously spike whatever discussion they were in. Valdez was soon replaced by Mario Cotto who cruised his first set in with some tranquil house tracks before transitioning into his own remixes that fused forms of pop music with dilated house beats. The pop songs correlated in a time linear fashion from the 60’s into today’s top 40, which made the dance floor inclusive for all ages.

A mob of devoted fans and I made our way across to the opposite hall to see the main acts. Soon it was time for everyone’s favorite lead percussion gum drummer, the explosive vocalist Shannon Funchess, who is half of Light Asylum. I would agree with the statement that calling Funchess as a commanding lead singer is an understatement. Her hard attacking vocals delivered a menacing awakening. On first impression, I mistook Shannon to be a man as she fluxed her voice between low and mid-range vocal levels.

Light Asylum’s other half is composed of the fluid synthesized measures of Bruno Coveillo. The intricate style of the synthesized measures amalgamated marvelously with one another. Who would have thought that aggressive vocals with a synthesizer could be so harmonious? The Hall withstood the sonic blitz with ease, but the audience’s collective sense was shredded to smithereens. I was so overwhelmed and immersed in the transcendental state brought forth by Asylumism that at time I forgot about the audience for extended periods of time. Concluding on their last song, “Skull Fuct,” I peered over my shoulder to see the audience mesmerized by the paradox of sound they just encountered.

The Soft Moon wasted no time raising the bar from where the previous act left off. Their thunderous sound of distortion gave way for an eerie but meditative post-apocalyptic sound. My favorite song by far was “Parallels.” It invigorated a sense of existential urgency within me while also putting me in a state of Zen. This music felt contradictory in nature. Harsh, but majestic. Disordered, but at the same time orderly. I had no complaints about the music, but I was not fond of the vocals. Vasquez, the singer, did not project his lyrics clearly. Perhaps that was intentional though. Maybe Vasquez’s purpose was to have the audience intuitively capture the music with the senses instead to decipher with the mind. At first experience, both bands came off as abrasive and disturbing, but left me with an impression of serenity. Perhaps they were imploring us to pierce through the superficiality in order to find the beauty in things we might missing.