Photo by Tenaya HillsIt' s difficult to imagine anyone successfully pulling off a night of visual art and experimental music inside the catacomb-like basement that is La Cave, but that's exactly what local DJ/Everywhere Man Sean Sloan is attempting with Revolver, the bar's month-old weekly Tuesday-night event. A strikingly eerie doppelganger for Mr. Clean, Sean approaches me minutes after a friend and I attempt to quietly slink into a table at the back of the bar.
"Excuse me," he begins, taking a sip from his Newcastle and introducing himself, "do you mind if I ask how you heard about Revolver?"
Contrary to my suspicions, Sean greets every new face at the bar like this—not just inconspicuous nightlife columnists.
While video footage cataloging the inside of an artist's studio—everything from the living space to the artist's works in progress—screens on a large white sheet hanging in the corner of the bar, Sean chats with us about the genesis of Revolver and the challenges he's faced so far.
Tuesday nights were traditionally a dead night for La Cave, he explains, so the bar's bartender/promoter, Dave, asked if he wanted to attempt what has become known as the Revolver Project. Glancing around the sparsely filled lounge, he notes—offering not so much an excuse as a proud declaration of cool-headed huevos—"We're doing this with no built-in crowd following."
What is the Revolver Project, exactly? It's not quite easy to say. Essentially, Sean and his fellow Revolver-ites spend a few hours each week documenting the collections and work spaces of local area artists and then project them on a wall. They also collect old home-video footage—birthday parties, lazy Sundays playing in the back yard, homey Christmas mornings—as well as create new footage of their own. "There's going to be some nudity," he politely cautions, "but it will be tasteful."
Still, when juxtaposed with the bar's steakhouse-cum-Bat Cave interior, everything about the night—stoner lighting, stoner visuals, stoner rock—seems oddly out of place, almost comical, like a 13-year-old attempting to launch a bohemian art gallery inside his parents' garage, right next to the Mercedes. I ask if he's had any problems with the bar.
"Outside of having to carry all our gear downstairs, no," he says. "It's a good space."
How about with the management?
"Oh, they've been totally supportive!" he gushes. "They acknowledge that [attendance] will be up and down. They even give us money, so we can pay our performers and artists."
As Sean is speaking, I notice a man setting up a laptop in front of the white sheet in the corner and plugging in his guitar. This, I assume, is one of the performers Sean speaks of. A short while later, the turntables give way to a soft, vaguely Kid ARadiohead-ish number as the man with the guitar plays along to prerecorded drum beats on his laptop. He's good, but I don't know that many people coming in from off the street for a stiff drink on a Tuesday night would feel the same.
"We not going to pander," Sean proclaims. "We're trying to be true to ourselves and to reach people."
So, um, Revolver doesn't cater to the pimp and ho?
"Exactly. And everyone involved feels it's worth the effort and the undertaking."
With that, Sean excuses himself, presumably to fetch more Newcastle and conduct another focus group. Entranced by the ROYGBIV spectrum of lights emanating from a small box to the right of the man with the guitar, I take a sip from my whiskey-Coke and try to ignore the obnoxious drunk lady to my right who, for whatever reason, feels the need to shout over her martini at her friends sitting a foot and a half away.
Then I laugh, realizing she's almost—but not quite—as dreadful as obnoxious drunk art-fucks at a loft party with home-video visuals and experimental music, and pause to admire Sean and his ambition. It's only a matter of time before they'll begin showing up in droves, I realize, and I can't wait.
Revolver goes off at La Cave, 1695 Irvine Ave., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-7944. Every Tues., 10 p.m. Free. 21+. For more info, or if you'd like to contribute, visit revolverproject.com.
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