Last Thursday, CMPVTR CLVB--a collective of musicians, visual artists, and futurists--hosted the first night of their four part event titled CTRL Space CMD at Logan Fringe Arts Space in Northeast DC. The exhibition, which will be running every Thursday during the month of April, is a "series of conceptual performance pieces dissecting mankind's intrinsic connection to space, time, and The Creator." Night 1, or "Ritual," focused on contemporary and ancient ideas of idolatry, religion, cults and more.
The event space is part of Capital Fringe's arts bar. It's reminiscent of Wynwood Walls in the art district of Wynwood, Miami due to its open-air entrance and colorful murals that highlight the side walls. A few cafe tables and chairs fill out the space, doubling the exterior as a performance space when the weather permits. As I walked inside the venue, I wasn't sure that I was in the correct location. It was quiet in the sense that I heard no music and there were only two or three people in the room--a woman tending to the bar and another making fresh popcorn for $1. The venue is actually separated into a bar/reception area and a theater space by a large wooden door.
I opened the door to a black box-style theater where people sat in a sensual immersion. Mr. Daywalker, a percussionist, and vocalist from Northern Virginia, was tracing a metal bowl with a wooden stick. As it emitted a melodic ringing noise, video modulation and projection mapping of psychedelic patterns and images of ritual (e.g., African tribes and obelisks) were simultaneously projected onto video screens by Quannum Throw, Anti-Hero and St.Clair Castro.
CTRL Space CMD operates like a festival style format, so each week will feature a number of artists making progressive music that emotes. After Mr. Daywalker's set, St.Clair Castro, who is one of the two curators of the month-long exhibition, set the ambiance for the remainder of the evening with a DJ mix. At a particular moment, Castro's explorative sounds had the audience nodding their heads along to instrumentals that sounded like a derivative of Migos' "T-Shirt".
A theme that is central to mankind's connection to space and time is race. Though it is an unfortunate truth, race is a part of man's historical context, and especially within the context of the District of Columbia.
"Gentrification. Boy I'm about my isms," rapped Nate G x Afro Velvet, a duo of visual artists who synthesized their interests of design and fashion into a musical performance of Afro Futurism. They will return to the CTRL Space CMD exhibition on April 27th for Night 4: Meta- The Evolution of Blackness.
Sir E.U and RobSmokesBands' collaborative performance created a juxtaposition of those who were content to sit and watch the musical performances in the audience versus those who felt the vibe change to a more participative, turn-up environment. On songs like "Walk to Japan" where Sir E.U strutted around the stage with two microphones, the audience was encouraged to dance and jump around much like at any hip hop show.
RobSmokesBands closed out the show in another collaborative effort as jazz/blues fusion band Funk Disaster paired with the Pittsburgh drummer. Singing similarly to Bob Dylan's nasally, high-pitched riffs, RobSmokesBands Funk Disaster played covers of Hall & Oates' 1981 single "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" and Bobby Caldwell's rendition of "What You Won't Do For Love." Multiple people in the audience began to cheer as vintage highlight reels of the 1970s Steel Curtain dynasty played along with the sounds. The band also brought out lineformation MILF's very own, Tedy Brewski for a surprise performance.
In an interview with DC Music Download, St.Clair Castro and Jamal Gray talked about how CTRL Space CMD is the culmination of three years of research and education. Through performances at other creative venues, like Velvet Lounge, Black Cat--where Glow End Theory is held--as well as smaller gatherings at the homes of artists, such as Rob Stokes' 'HOUSEWARMING' series, CMPVTR CLVB has tinkered with how to present an amalgamtion of production and beat making with live instrumentation, dance, installation art, and video mapping. What's more though, is that their experimentation has also cultivated a network of creative artists in the District of Columbia who are striving to define what the cultural community is going to look like in the nation's capital in the near future.
Gray says of the event, "CTRL Space CMD is just preparing everybody for what's to come from Nag Champa, St.Clair Castro, CMPVTR CLVB, and the extended family...it's a launch pad."
CTRL Space CMD will be an exhibition for the remainder of April, every Thursday, at Capital Fringe's Logan Fringe Arts Space. RSVP here.
4/13/17- Night 2: Alter- Interstellar Escape Plan
4/20/17- Night 3: Sauvage- The Untamed Planet
4/27/17- Night 4: Meta- The Evolution of Blackness
1358 Florida Avenue Northeast
Washington, DC 20002