I was very happy to have noted earlier that Molly Nilsson had finally made it back to Asheville for the first time in six years. That was a lot of water under the bridge, especially considering that the artist is fairly prolific with three further albums released in the last six years that I had not seen her live. So I bought my ticket a few weeks ago only to get an email from The Mothlight not 12 hours later informing me that the headliner on March 7th had changed and now Atlanta band Deerhunter were headlining. Thankfully Molly Nilsson and her support act Apostille were still playing. Now perhaps earlier but that’s all I was worried about in any case. The ticket cost of the show was now doubled but my ticket would still be honored. That was great since I had never heard of Deerhunter in any case and could not be bothered to care one way or another. In any case, the addition of this new headliner caused the show to sell out. This would maybe be the first time I was in The Mothlight in a full house. Ulp!
I arrived at the club only to find that what was once free parking in a church lot across the street from the venue was now a paid lot @ $2.00/hour. Welcome to Asheville! It was one of those cheapie pay-through-slot parking lots, and all I had was $20.00 bills so I quickly made a bee-line to the nearby grocery store to buy something inexpensive to break the bill into change. By the time I got back to the club, it was a few minutes past the 8:30 showtime.
Apostille were already underway with a loud, vibrant program of electrotwitch punk that was like an old friend to my ears. Apostille is Michael Kasparis and his set featured his earnest vocals singing some fascinating lyrics while thrashing to and fro and patching small modular units. He laid the occasional lead line down on a keyboard. For a one man operation, he was burning quite a few calories by sheer necessity! His voice was very familiar to me… who did he remind me of? It took me a minute or two, but eventually I realized that his voice had a lot in common with Bruce Wooley.
How I loved the juxtaposition of that clean vocal tone with the wildly buzzing electroshock synths. The music immediately had the same kind of presence and aggression as early Fad Gadget. In short, this guy was riveting. His performance style wasn’t as far-gone as Frank Tovey [who could do that today?] but was nevertheless in the audience’s face; on occasion jumping off of the low stage into the front of the audience and singing just inches away from their faces. I was impressed at how he vibrated his whole body on the floor of the club for effect. Who needs FX boxes when there are muscles always there and free besides?
The Mothlight run a tight ship, so Kasparis had to cut his last song a little short. I enjoyed watching the mental wheels turn as he figured out how to trim “Thirteen Minutes” to about half of its 4:46 length. Which loops to use… which loops to discard. How I loved seeing machine driven music rendered so chaotic and alive. The crowd had been building during the set and by its end, the club was about 30-40% full. Like many performers today, Kasparis tended to segue numbers together live to make long collages of sound and as an audient, this confuses me as to when it is appropriate to clap and show enthusiasm for the artist. Especially, in cases like this where I am encountering the music for the first time. When there was a pause, I jumped on the applause where appropriate. I think this might be the influence of DJ culture on live performance; which can often be just a hair’s breadth from a DJ set in any case.
After his gig concluded I made a bee line for the merch table and there was Mr. Kasparis manning the goods. I gave him compliments on his fantastic set and remarked that it was reminiscent of Fad Gadget, whom he certainly knew. It was treat for me to hear that sort of aggressive electronic attack live in 2019. Though it referenced music nearly 40 years old, I never heard things like Apostille live in 1982! But it seems like there is a will to perform such Post-Punk music live in the modern era, which may be down to the viability of today’s electronics in a live setting. In any case, he had won me over big time. I had planned to buy as much Molly Nilsson music as I could since she had reissues of her early CD-Rs and three new albums, but I had to buy the Apostille album, “Choose Life.”
I had saved up $42 to buy merch if possible that evening, but the parking hit me for cash I had not planned on spending, and I bought some food to break my bills to pay for the parking, so my cash was down. I was musing on the Molly Nilsson merch and decided that I should get her new album, “20/20.” Mr. Kasparis helpfully offered to give his opinion on what Nilsson CDs I should buy since he revealed that he was the head of her label, Glasgow’s Night School Records! Wow! This was literally a case of label tour support. Had I been a bit sharper mentally, I would have thanked him then and there for reissuing Rose MacDowell’s “Cut With The Cake Knife” as soon as he had said that.
Miffed at not having enough for three CDs, I found myself running off the the nearby grocery store and buying a food item so I could get $5.00 in cash back in the transaction. I made my way back to the merch table and decided to get a copy of Ms. Nilsson’s 2010 album, “Follow The Light.” When I first saw her in 2012 the 500 numbered CD-Rs of that were long gone by that time. The 2017 glass mastered CD would be much more durable, in any case. I popped off to the car to leave my purchases before Molly began her set. With her minimal setup [plug laptop into PA] it would not take long for her to take to the stage.
Next: …The REAL Headliner