By: Billy Murray
Sullivan Hall in NYC recently bore witness to a stellar performance from Disco Biscuits drummer Allen Aucoin with his new project, DrFameus. Aucoin was greeted with support by MUN, a 4-piece Brooklyn based jamtronica band, and Bang Bang!!, a two piece electronic improvisation act consisting of Todd Stoops, better known as the keyboardist of RAQ and Kung Fu, and Scotty Zwang, drummer of Sonic Spank. Each of these artists threw down with zeal and ambition, casting aside “side project” aspersions.
Kicking off the night was MUN, who describe themselves as “live future space improv.” Their set ranged from genres including spacey jazz improvisation to fast paced hardcore techno. The clarity and sound output of their performance was extremely advanced, especially for a crew of young and aspiring livetronica artists. Overall, MUN had a tight sound and crafted a compelling performance. These boys are on a mission, letting their passions guide them through a rough and tumble industry.
After MUN, Allen was welcomed to the stage by a crowd consisting of many die-hard Disco Biscuits fans, eager to hear what the doctor had prepared. I had never witnessed the DrFameus project in action before, and the first set was different than what I expected. Allen was not playing as technically as he normally does, and I was thrown off by the simplicity of his drumming. After a few moments, Allen was joined on stage by three of his friends. Once these guys arrived on stage, one on guitar, one on keys, and the other controlling MIDI, everything began to make sense. The simple and almost disappointing first few minutes of the DrFameus set quickly turned into a stunning display of electronic improvisation filled with a variety of styles and genres driven by the consistently perfect drumming of Allen.
After the introductory first set from DrFameus, Bang Bang!! entered the stage. Given it was only their third performance, this was an unexpected highlight of the night. While Zwang tore up the drum kit, the crowd watched in awe as Stoops controlled MIDI and software-based sounds, while shredding complex and catchy melodies on an analog synth, similar to solos played on a guitar. Along with danceable house beats accompanied with hard drops and heavy bass, Bang Bang even sampled popular electronic tracks such as “NewJack,” by Justice. This performance was an extraordinarily impressive surprise for everyone.
When Aucoin and his bandmates entered the stage for their second set, their approach was radically different. As the intensity of their playing increased, Allen began to blow minds with his drumming, leaving many attendees completely stunned. As the set began to progress Allen proved to everyone why he has acquired the nickname, “the robot Allen.” He began to bust out quick and frequent fills on the snare and tom drums, while still managing to play 32nd notes on the hi-hats in completely perfect time. This set was what everyone had been waiting for and consisted of many different styles and genres. This performance was exactly what the DrFameus project was created to achieve. “I'm trying not to lock down a specific style with DrFameus and hit many styles of the electronic realm... techno/trance, breakbeat, drum n bass, dubstep, drumstep, trip-hop, ambience and funk,” stated Allen via email.
As the set progressed, the guitarist and keyboardist left the stage, leaving Allen and his friend on the MIDI. Allen picked up the pace even more and proceeded to go on a percussion-induced rampage, covering nearly all of the assorted genres he mentioned earlier.
“I am trying to take this (DrFameus) as far as I can take it. DrFameus has been a dream of mine since about 2003,” said Allen. Evidently, this sensational night at Sullivan Hall can be considered a dream come true.
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