EMC festival

Campbell, Annicka

One of the great things about spring term here at Lawrence is the increase in live music on campus. Last Saturday, sophomore Paul Karner and the bands Lights Out Asia and Volcano! played at the Underground Coffeehouse in a show sponsored by the Electronic Music Club.
At 9 p.m., when Karner’s set began, the room was already packed – Con students, English majors, and people who live in Trever were all in attendance. It seemed like every group on campus was represented – a sign of both the Coffeehouse’s increasing popularity and the EMC’s savvy choice of bands. Clad in his requisite flip-flops and track jacket, Karner took the stage with his iBook and guitar to play a melodic mix of synths, guitar, and vocals. He uses the program Reason to create his beats, which are surprisingly danceable even when combined with his rather melancholy guitar. Junior Stephanie Wille noted (once again) that “Paul Karner is an enigma to me… this is the best thing I’ve ever seen.”
Lights Out Asia, a three-member group from Milwaukee, played next. I’m probably going to get beaten up for saying this, but I think Lights Out Asia blew Paul and Volcano! out of the water. Their glowing, atmospheric post-rock makes you feel like you’re watching city lights shudder and flicker from high above or walking down a crowded city street on a cloudy, green, spring afternoon. Their last song must have been over seven minutes long – a glaze of sparse, elegant vocals and waves of static that reverberated through the room long after the amps were switched off and the PowerBook was shut.
Lights Out Asia can’t be classified as synthesized pop or Mogwai-esque rock; their songs are delicately private walls of sound which are too gorgeous to be labeled. Check out LightsOutAsia.com for more information.
It’s safe to say that the members of Volcano! are the musical darlings of Lawrence University, and not only because their drummer, Sam, is a Lawrence alumnus. Taking the stage sometime after midnight, they alternated between sudden outbursts of erratic intensity and intervals of calm melody. I’m not sure how to describe it; all I know is that it was pretty amazing. Nearly every member of the audience was on the dance floor, dancing as though possessed by the devil. Ironically, Karner noted, “Volcano! is one of the best bands that God ever created.” The band has some MP3s posted on their website, Volcanoisaband.com. It was an excellent ending to an excellent show; let’s hope the coffeehouse will bring such relevant bands back to play again.

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