Busy Work, Detroit Bar, August 1, 2007

Busy Work is the newish Wednesday night weekly bash thrown by Santa Ana DJ/promoter Dan Sena. When I walked in to Detroit Bar, he was spinning a relentless string of raucous, bludgeoning disco brut from those red-hot French labels I name-checked in my previous Busy Work post. These raw, dirty tracks run roughshod over melody and favor extreme high and low (but mostly low) frequencies. For much of the night, nobody was dancing to the bludgeoning 4/4 tracks, until finally a few girls got a little circle going. But with Sena's decks situated in the lounge, the setup is not ideal for motivating mass-scale ass-shaking.

Over in the main room, a quartet of females called Virago maintained the aggressive vibe established by Sena, but with a feral punk/garage-rock spin that allowed for much venting. The Costa Mesa group ground out a truncated cover of the Stooges' “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and tore through about a half dozen originals, creating a primitive, primal din. Front woman Alejandra Abril Helguero Rivas sings like she has a grievance with the world, and the rest of the band—guitarist Kris Nakamura, bassist TZ and drummer Emily Hoy—backed her agitated caterwauling with thrusting shoulders and razor-sharp elbows. They put out a good, cathartic negative energy, recalling San Francisco's Frightwig. After the final song screeched to a halt, Hoy sprayed the crowd with Silly String. A black dude with dreads received the brunt of the attack, but he took it cheerfully. Then Sena resumed with the disco-machismo woomp-woomp in the lounge area. My unsolicited advice: mix up the mood/tempo throughout the night to avoid monotony.

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