Weekend! Nightlife: On the Rocks
- Anne Marie DiStefano
- Portland Tribune - Features
Apparently, Someday's time has come
Is it karaoke? Is it a band? A man in black is pacing the dance floor, microphone in hand.
Behind him on the stage is another man, in combat boots, working the controls of a complicated electronic setup. A mysterious collection of sounds washes over the room.
This is Dirty Deed, which actually wasn't scheduled to play tonight, according to promoter Noah Mickens. Another performer failed to show, but fortunately, all of Dirty Deed's music just happened to be loaded onto the computer belonging to the headliners, Fraqtured Sound.
This could only happen in the world of electronic music.
Standing outside the new Someday Lounge, Mickens is tossing around terms like 'Illbient Dub' and 'Industrial EBM.' These are some of the subgenres of beat-oriented electronic dance music that is featured every Friday night at an event called St. Vitus Dance Club, one of a number of recurring events that Mickens plans to host - or already is hosting - at the Old Town venue.
Right now he's trying to remember what EBM stands for. He asks the doorman and several passers-by (he seems to know everyone), but no one can remember.
That's OK, because Mickens doesn't like to pigeonhole, anyway. 'I want to really cover stuff that's outside the system of genres of electronic music but is still danceable,' he says.
Old arts shine in a new light
Around 11 p.m., RuDement takes the stage. The act consists of a dreadlocked man and his machines, playing ambient hip-hop, creating music out of prerecorded snippets of his own original music.
No one is dancing, which bothers Mickens a bit. He was hoping for a better turnout tonight, but he remains philosophical. 'They can't all be blockbusters,' he says.
Fifteen or 20 people cluster around the bar at the front of the club. The space, carved out of an old warehouse, is dark and industrial but smells incongruously of freshly cut lumber.
The low ceiling over the bar doubles as a platform for light and sound technicians. Beyond billowing gauze curtains is the performance space, with high ceilings, a concrete floor and a new stage backed with crimson drapes.
A young man and woman begin assembling a portable platform in the middle of the dance floor. The woman wraps herself in a voluminous skirt and situates herself atop a small box with a glowing light inside.
This is Jessie Smith, performing as Dead Bird Movement. She uses her skirt to gradually reveal beams of light, then chucks the whole apparatus (skirt included) and performs a jerky, strangely mesmerizing dance for the small crowd.
Freak show's coming to town
Moments like this seem destined to become the trademark of the Someday Lounge. The wildly assorted mix of events that Mickens has planned for the future - experimental open-mike jazz, a haunted house, a circus - all have a way of blurring the distinction between nightclub and theater.
And the nattily dressed 32-year-old mastermind is feeling neither modest nor humble about the possibilities here. 'I'm feeling very momentous about this,' he says. 'We're really creating something important here.'
With a circus? Actually, Mickens plans a monthly event called Batty's Hippodrome in which 'all the various traveling underground circus troupes are going to come here and perform.' So there's a lot of them? Apparently, yes. Mickens adds offhandedly: 'I run a number of circuses, you know. I'm a ringmaster.'
As a matter of fact, he spent last summer touring with Thee 999 Eyes ov Endless Dream, a freak show that will be coming to the Someday Lounge later this month (9 p.m. Oct. 28, $15).
Yes, he does mean a real freak show, including performers with genetic abnormalities and a man who eats bugs. Mickens assures me: 'It's not a bigoted term. They prefer the term freak.'
So many ideas to be staged
Even when the event at hand is not a circus, the title of ringmaster fits Mickens. His enthusiastic patter puts a coherent face on this mixed bag of a venue, which is owned by Eric and Kris Robison, the proprietors of the Internet cafe Backspace, two doors down in the same building.
Like a true showman, Mickens mystifies and amazes. He describes a recurring Sunday event called Gekikai as featuring 'post-Asiatic music and dance and performance.'
He lays out plans for an avant-garde fusion of Tuvan throat singing, Japanese butoh, Indonesian gamelan music and some traditional Hindu dancing, with maybe a little sitar thrown in. Will it be beautiful? Or will it be really annoying? It's hard to say.
At home, I look up EBM, and find that it stands for Electronic Body Music. That's one question answered, an infinite number to go.
The Someday Lounge
Where: 125 N.W. Fifth Ave., 503-248-1030